Crime and Punishment: Another Memory

I’m sure there have been more children who have found themselves in trouble for using inappropriate language than those who haven’t. I am also sure the majority received some form of punishment for their indiscretion.

The question I have had for far too long is what parents considered a fair punishment for a single word, (which to be honest, was repeated after being warned… once.)

I ask this because for far too long I thought what I received was common for the mid-70s but I now realize was possibly a tad excessive…

You see, in those days our families choice of soap was one containing lye. I don’t know about my step father but I know my mother not only preferred such soaps, there was a time when she and my grandmother made their own. I mention this because she should have been well versed in how dangerous such things were since she once explained a scar on her arm which she received when some of her own soap splashed onto her arm, leaving her with a constant reminder to be more careful. This is important because my punishment for using the word “damn” (twice) was to hold a bar of soap in my mouth… for half an hour. The result was chemical burns to my lips, mouth, throat, and vocal cords.

I can’t say if this was the reason my voice never changed a great deal, I do know I never experienced my voice cracking (which I feared and was relieved when it didn’t happen). Indeed, I’m sure it changed much more as a result of smoking than it ever did during puberty.

(Oh, I forgot to mention I was about 7 at the time.)


A number of times it has been suggested I write down the events of my life. What I remember, my thoughts, dreams, hopes and aspirations. What follows is the beginning of a journey I never wanted to take, memories I felt best left to the dust of time. Yet I have never been able to free myself from them and I know they have shaped me into who I am today. I make no promises as to when I will post one of these, just the idea of putting them into words, never mind sharing them, is difficult to say the least.


The beginning:

What is your first memory? Mine is of hiding in a mobile home with my mother while my step father tried to force is way in with a knife. For years I told myself it was just a bad dream, yet to this day I can still see his rage filled face pressed against the window screen, the glint of the knife when the blade caught the light. I remember being terrified and not understanding why and knowing my mother was every bit as terrified as me.

A day to forget

I had hoped for a quiet, productive day though I knew such was virtually impossible with all three children at home for the holiday break. First thing this morning my oldest got sick and passed out. Later he insisted on trying to eat a muffin which he promptly threw up all over the kitchen table, himself, and the floor… need I mention I am a sympathy puker?

So I had that to clean up, along with clothing, plus laundry I already had to do, plus dishes and various chores… oh, and I had a laptop to clean up and reinstall Windows, (which I am still working on).

So, over all a day I will be happy to forget!

The Walk

Sometimes a situation arises which challenges you in ways you never expected, leaving as many questions as answers. It doesn’t matter what lead to this point in your life, weather accident or fate or where fault lies if anywhere at all.

No, only what you do this moment will have any meaning.

It is a choice between giving up once and for all, (to lie down and die in spirit as much as physically), or to put one foot in front of the other. One step at a time in truth.

I found myself in just such a situation last weekend. As I found out, it didn’t matter what had brought me to this watershed moment, only taking the next step, no matter who painful.

I took a walk, not knowing when I stepped out of the door where I was going or if I would return and not caring either way. I can’t even tell you what my state of mind was as everything is confusing mass of images, emotions, and pain… a great deal of pain.

I made my way to a local walking/biking trail about a half hour walk from my house. As soon as I stepped foot on the asphalt I knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t focus my eyes properly and my balance was off to the point I was having trouble walking a straight line. The smart thing would have been to turn around. Instead I pushed forward determined to exhaust myself. To drive on until I could go no further. Because it was nearing dark, I only passed about a hand full of people, (I can imagine what they must of thought of this person shuffling and stumbling along).

I don’t know how long I walked but I finally reached a point where I knew I couldn’t continue.

Now I had a decision to make.

It had crossed my mind more than once I might not have a place to return to. I had walked out without a phone or even my keys. It was very possible the door might be locked or A might have had enough and took the kids and left. I couldn’t blame her for doing either.

Given the fact I had more than once seriously considered doing exactly what I was doing, that is to start walking and go until I collapsed and letting the cold and exhaustion do what I couldn’t muster the courage to do myself, a nearby bench offered a final resting place if I just accepted it.

Yet there was something deep inside which rejected doing so. It wasn’t even a real option and I knew, looking at around me, it never really was. The thing is, I can’t even explain why, it went against everything which was churning in my head. The endless emotions, the constant thoughts, the certainty the world would be better off without me in it. The whispering doubts and accusations which told me all I had ever done was cause harm to the people I loved. Whatever it was rose up and turned my feet back the way I had come refused it all. A fierce determination I wasn’t sure I actually possessed until that moment.

The journey back was living hell, each step more painful than the last as my body began to fail. I couldn’t stand upright, could barely move my legs, everything from my ribs down were on fire and I fell more than once. Yet each time that force inside me pushed me up again, forced me to take one more step, to catch myself when I stumbled. In the moment nothing mattered other than to keep going.

Eventually I made it to a place where I was able to call A. She never said a word, just came and took me home.

I don’t have words to describe what I felt then or now and I don’t know if I ever will.

I do know this is a terrible way to end this story but I’m still trying to come to grips with what happened (not to mention the physical effects which are slowly fading), but I know I have to work through this just as I did that night, one step at a time no matter how painful.