A beautiful reflection of a heart wounded… Please take a moment to read and reflect on your own life. I also want to encourage any of you who feel so compelled to reach out and share yourself with this writer.
Spanking. A huge hot button topic. I know. And now, with post #1, being somewhat normal, and post #2, being an emotional cry, I figured it was okay to break up the hot button topics in post #3.Knowing that my parents loved me, and would do anything for me, and yet still processing how spanking affected me is a very painful process. I feel like I am the problem. I feel like the feelings and effects spanking had on me are unique to only me, and that if I were just “better” in some way, I would not have the severe emotional trauma from such a “normal” childhood event. To put this post in perspective, let me just spend a few moments to brag on my wonderful parents. My dad is a wonderful Godly man. He isn’t afraid to take the uncomfortable road. He is more generous that most people I know. He is deeply committed to taking care of the needy, and reaching people with the gospel of Christ. I am, and always have been, a daddy’s girl. <3 I remember going on daddy daughter dates.. I remember being a able to cry in his arms. I remember how excited I would be when he would get home. My daddy was always the #1 man in my life, until I met Pine.. And now, he still is very important to me. I want his approval, and I have strode to get it my whole life. I feel safer, and more secure if he tells me I am doing well.
My mom is a very strong woman, with a heartbreaking past. No one should be able to be as healthy as her considering what she has gone through. My mom probably would understand the deep soul searching I am doing now, if it didn’t hit her personally, because I have seen her do the same things. Evaluate the way she was raised.. Try to keep the good, and get rid of the abusive, unhealthy patterns she was raised with. My mom was committed to our characters no matter the cost. And she has cried many tears, because she felt as if she never lived up to it. I can totally understand that feeling now as I look at my own little boy, and think of all the mistakes I have made in such a short time.
Spanking. To this day, we (my parents and I) do not agree on the topic of spanking. I can point you to a hundred different studies that show why spanking is unhealthy.. I can show you a hundred different stories like mine to show how it affects people. Not all people, but enough to make me think twice. But that’s not the purpose of this blog. For once, I am not going to defend what I have come so strongly to believe. Instead, I am just going to write out my feelings. My vulnerabilities, my anxieties, my memories. This is part of a process towards healing..
I remember being spanked often as a child. Sometimes several times a day. I remember the panic that would well inside of me as I was forced to bend over. I remember instinctively, uncontrollably rolling off the side of the bed to avoid the spoon, or belt, or hanger. I remember trying so hard to stay still as they hit me.. Because I knew that if I did move, I would get more. I remember crying out in fright, frustration and anger “I am not trying to move! I can’t help it!” And I remember getting the extra lashes anyways. My parents did spank in anger, but some of the worst spankings I got were done “correctly” My parents were not visibly angry. They explained in quiet tones why I deserved what was coming. They explained that it would all stop as soon as I repented. The amount of shame… A sick, dark cloud of shame would hang over my soul. I am not talking about my conscience here. I think that the word shame means something very different than guilt. Guilt is something you feel because you committed a wrong action. Shame is something you feel, because you are worth less.. Your very value is defined by an action, or how someone perceives you. I would be spanked, a minimum of 10 times. That seemed to be the starting point to the best of my memory. When I got better at staying still, it would only be 10. Otherwise it would be until I had received 10 in a row without moving away from the blows. Every time I flinched to hard and moved to the side, the count would restart. After the spanking was over, my parents would hold me. I remember being terrified, humiliated, and scared to do anything that would displease them in the least, lest the nightmare repeat itself. I would sit in their laps and pretend I was sorry. I learned that tears of “repentance” really made them happy. I became a fake repenter. I felt bad about what I had done, don’t get me wrong. I even wished I had not done it. But not because it was wrong.. But because with the punishment came the terror of shame. The sick feeling of worthlessness, and a total and complete failure as a person.
This dynamic I think, is why I am having such a hard time understanding the grace of God. God does not love me because I “perform”. And God’s love does not change when my actions or attitudes are not pleasing to him. God’s love is constant. I learned the opposite.. That acceptance and otherwise love is conditional on performance. And I also learned that if the person you were trying to please thought you were doing right, then you could earn your acceptance, and still behave the way you liked.
There is more than that though. A darker side of spanking. One I have voiced very rarely, and one that is deeply humiliating. And that is the sexual side of spanking. Even typing this out makes me shake a little bit, and the nerve endings in my bottom twitch uncomfortably. Its something people don’t talk about. But I am not alone in the way it felt. Before I had any idea what sex was, or how different parts of our bodies reacted in different ways, I always felt… encroached upon whenever someone even brushed up against my butt. Spanking was a nightmare because of it. I felt dirty, and deeply humiliated by the act of bending over, and willingly allowing someone else to invade that which was so deeply private to me. By humiliated, I don’t just mean embraced.. I mean a feeling so strong and dark it would make me physically ill. I don’t remember any of my siblings struggling so much with staying in the one position while the spanking was administered. But I literally could.not. stay still without trying to move away. It took years of training before I could force myself to, and even then my entire body would flinch. I didn’t realize until after my husband tried to show me sexual attention with my butt just how unsafe I feel. I have a hard time when he shows me intended and healthy sexual attention, because every time he touches me, it throws me down across a bed, and my whole body flinches to get away. The invasion of the basic boundary of my body was devastating.
My parents did not sexually abuse me. There was not one spanking that was intended in any ill manner. I know this with 100% certainty. I also know they have no idea how it felt. And I have no intention of telling them. It would cause to much heartache. If they even believed me. Processing these feelings has been very hard. Actually confronting them, instead of shoving them so far under the surface has been deeply painful. But even now, I know my parents loved me. They sacrificed, money, convenience, and so much more for us kids. They did many things right. They taught us the value of hard work and honesty. They taught us that wrong actions often have unpleasant consequences. And they never once fathomed a simple routine “godly” spanking could cause so much harm.
That thought scares the bejabbers out of me. Aspen! My son.. The one I would die for much in the same way my parents loved me. How is he going to understand and feel the things I do only for his benefit? Am I going to so deeply invade his personal boundaries, to where the simple thought of it makes him quake and shiver with fear, hopelessness, worthlessness?
Not all children have such a harsh reaction to spanking. But if you presented everything in this post to my parents, I am sure they would say with certainty it never affected their children this way.
I have so much fear of hurting Aspen unintentionally. But yesterday I realized something. God is forcing me to deal with the hurt and pain I suffered. He is working healing in my heart. I have forgiven my parents, and love them dearly. Really, what God is doing in me now, is a fulfilment of his promise to my parents. He is being faithful to them to fix the mistakes that they made. I can only trust that he will do the same for Aspen and Sappling, and any of my other kids. There is no such thing as a parent that will not cause their children emotional distress. That I am sure of. I am equally convinced that God has the power to heal the wounds I make in my children, that I have no idea of. He is faithful! And that is so encouraging to me.
I don’t think my parents would understand that I am not angry with them if I shared this with them. I don’t think they would understand that my facing and processing this is a sign of His deep and everlasting love and faithfulness not only to me, but to them. I have no desire to hurt them, so I probably will never share this with them. There really is no purpose.
I praise God for the changes he is making in me… And tonight, for the first time, I thanked him for healing the wounds I will inflict on my own children.
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