I sometimes think I hurt too easily. That I’m too sensitive.
I suppose that’s the residue from a painful childhood that included countless lashes to the backside and a non-stop assault on my psyche from a man who should have known better than to batter a small child. That’s what fathers did back in the 1950s and ’60s, though. They beat their children. Not all fathers did. Some spared their children the lash and actually talked to them in an effort to arrive at the root of an issue that might have led to a brief bout of misconduct. Not my father. He wasn’t a particularly intelligent man, so his way of talking was to take off his leather belt and start swinging. Violently. And with rage.
It was an acceptable form of punishment, too. Your kid a problem? Beat some sense into the kid. Then tell the kid that she/he is useless and will never amount to anything.
The trouble with that, of course, is that the physical bruises vanish but the emotional scars don’t and no amount of Cover Girl can conceal them.
I like to think the scars of my childhood don’t show, but I know they do. Every unwelcomed word or act brings them back to the surface and it takes me places where I no longer wish to go. When I was a child, I would hide in my closet and weep softly and wonder if all my friends received a beating for not eating their spinach or for not being a straight-A student.
I hid in my closet again last night. I’m still there and I don’t want to come out. When I’m in my closet, no one can hurt me. Not even the people who don’t mean to hurt me.
That’s why I sometimes think I hurt too easily.
I know there are people who would never say or do anything to deliberately wound me. They accept me for who I am and treat me with kindness. On occasion, however, there is a misstep. Usually it’s a word spoken in innocence, but it can be crippling, nonetheless. I don’t love them any less when this happens. I just hurt. And I retreat to my closet, my sanctuary.
Right now, I don’t wish to come out. I can’t come out.
Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever come out of my closet. Or if I ever will. Will I always be that trembling child who must hide? Probably.
I just hope the people who truly matter understand that I don’t wish to hurt them with my pain.