The Paddle of My Memory

Over at Homeschoolers Anonymous, they’re doing a series on spanking and corporal punishment.  Never having been homeschooled or part of a fringe religious group or just fringe, I haven’t submitted a story.  But I did want to write about my own story of spanking.

What I remember most is the fear.

I know I was spanked and I think it started very early.  Everyone spanked.  It was the 80s.  Child abuse was barely a blip on the horizon and even then only the really horrific cases made the news.  Child abuse, as we understand it today, didn’t exist.  It was just discipline that got out of hand.  Everybody hit their kids.  Nobody thought it was wrong, as long as you didn’t break a bone or unless the parent was a drunk.  And even then it wasn’t that big of a deal.  God wasn’t involved in my spankings.

The paddle sat in a large ceramic jar on the kitchen counter along with other kitchen utensils.  It was always there in easy reach for my mother.  Easy reach, easy threat, easy use.  And I was the easy target. 

I can only really remember one time being spanked.  I’ve repressed a lot of my past.  The past was painful so forgetting it was better. 

The paddle is what I remember most.  That, my own fear because I just knew my mother was going to carry out her threat of spanking, and my mother’s rage. 

Rage seemed to be my mother’s default emotion.  Anger and rage.  The nice parts only came out when other adults were watching and she wanted to be seen as the perfect mother.  And with my stepgrandfather, it was the sycophantic worship that largely threw me under the bus.

I only remember the one spanking and even then only in pieces.  The paddle.  The pain.  My mother’s rage.  My bewilderment and anger.  
But that paddle loomed all the time.  It was a visual manifestation of my mother’s rage filled threats.  And my mother loved to threaten me with that paddle.  She didn’t need to hit me with that paddle, just mentioning it was good enough. 

I was terrified of my mother.  I was the only one of us four girls. My sisters were rarely spanked, if ever, and any punishment was meted out to me instead of them.  I was the one at fault in my mother’s eyes.

Verbal rage was much more useful to my mother.  Threats, name calling, insults went a long way with me.  And my grandparents reinforced them. 

I was a bad girl going to Hell.

I was never going to amount to anything.

I was too fat.

I was too stupid.

My sisters were smarter.

I was always “You’re S’s sister” never bothering to learn my name.

I wasn’t an individual.

The paddle disappeared after we moved from Phoenix to Yuma.  I honestly don’t know what happened to it.  I was nine.  The spanking threats had stopped but that didn’t matter much.  I was still terrified. 

My mother was like a bomb ready to explode but you didn’t know what was going to set her off.  And anything could set her off. And I was the target.

Empty threats worked on me. There were even times she didn’t need to threaten.  I punished myself.  I still do that.  If I just punish myself, them everything will be better.  The pressure will have been let out. 

Punishment makes sense.  Mercy and forgiveness do not.  I think they’re just traps to mess me up so that I can be punished as I deserve.  Punishment is love.

That’s what spanking teaches.  Violence is love.  If I’m being hit, it’s because he/she loved me.  Because I deserve it.  Hitting is familiar.  Being called names, threatened, insulted is familiar.  It’s love.  Real love can’t be nice.  Real love is mean and vindictive and punitive and based on fulfilling specific conditions.  If people are nice, it’s all a lie and they’re just waiting for you to mess up to really show you who they are.

I don’t expect love.  I expect threats and insults.  I will punish myself to make me feel better, to ease the pressure, to make things right. 

God doesn’t care.  He’s waiting for you to fail as well.  His love is only for a select few.  And most of us aren’t it. 

That’s my headspace.  That’s what’s running through my head many days.  Counseling, living far away from my parents have helped.  But my issues with this,one friend are bringing some of this back.  Being unemployed doesn’t help either.

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1 Response to “The Paddle of My Memory”


  1. 1 betternotbroken 8 October 2014 at 10:02 PM

    Punishment actually teaches some people entitlement, you are entitled to punish other human beings without trial by jury for their guilt whenever you are displeased. I agree, for many people you learn to equate strength and love with meanness and in some cases sadism. Just because someone is punishing you does not mean you deserve to be punished and it is trauma bonding 101. Once the peptide bonds have been formed in your brain, you keep on punishing or harming yourself but the cycle can be broken! I hope you continue on a path of healing.


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