Hurts Me More Than You: Shade’s Story
Trigger warning for Hurts Me More Than You series: posts in this series may include detailed descriptions of corporal punishment and physical abuse and violence towards children.
i grew up in a home that believed in g-d, believed in spanking, and believed in the complete right of a parent to authorize and carry out any method of punishment deemed necessary to bring about a change in behavior.
this was supposed to teach us humility, goodness, love. it was supposed to make me a better person.
it has, instead, made me afraid.
i am marked, with wide marks that are white on my body. i am marked with the shame and fear of too many nights of discipline. i am marked inside, with deep rivers of darkness and fear. i am forever marked, and i’m tired of keeping the secret.
i cannot look at a belt without remembering how it curves into my skin. i cannot see a hand without wondering when it will fist in anger.
discipline was supposed to bring me to g-d, to love, and obey. it was supposed to foster love and trust. it failed. i learned a g-d that was hungry and evil, one that delighted in my pain. i learned that love was pain.
today, i have no contact with my parent-people. they still believe that i deserved every punishment i ever got. they believe that if i had listened better, i would be a better person.
but today, i am a survivor, and i am free.
‘What are you, Shade?’
‘Louder, I can’t hear you.’
‘i’m a sinner’
‘And what does a sinner deserve?’
‘Hebrews 12:6, tell me what it says.’
door holds his shadow, house is hushed. everyone else sleeps. he says that g-d gives good dreams to those whose consciences are clear. mine is never clear, dark hunts me every night.
i wish i were a better person.
‘Say it. Are you listening to me? I asked you to say the verse. Tell me what you deserve. Tell me what G-d says about you.’
the words are new-writ into my heart, it was our verse today.
we write and write, we say and say them until they are the truest of all. until blue and sky are welded into brightness. g-d is everywhere, listening, knowing, seeing.
this is why we learn g-d’s word, so that all the reasons and the being will be understood. the verses never tell stars from sun, they never have shown bird and tree, only a measure of how evil i am.
and so the words begin:
‘for whom the l-rd loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every one who he receiveth.’
lamp gives away the dark, piece by piece.
he is hand to door, we are alone.
‘G-d says I must discipline you. You wouldn’t want me to disobey G-d, would you?’
there are no more words, only waiting.
‘We are going to do this until you repent. I hope it doesn’t take long this time, I’m growing tired of your attitude.’
hand to belt, buckle reports, skin folds.
1, 2, 3, 4, i count. i count for the thunder, for the rain. because he holds the lightning, quick and bright, it’s tracing lines along the dark.
but the lightning does not stop.
‘Have you repented? Why won’t you see that this is for the best?’
5, 6, 7, air is cold against fire. and fire is what sings from his hand. up, down, up again, buckle’s grounding power marks my numbers.
there are no windows, no blackbirds, no tree-leaf triangles to divide the world.
12, 13, 14, 15. i am divisible, divisible, by dark and by voice, i am divisible.
‘Stop crying, you brought this on yourself. You chose to sin, you chose this. Your tears will not soften my heart.’
20, 21, salt runs warm into the ground.
night stretches, covers, shatters around my ears.
‘Stand up, your sin has made you weak. Stand up straight. And keep counting, We’re not finished here.’
31, 31, 31, 31, 31.
‘If you can’t remember the next number, you can just start over. I can keep this going all night long, until you repent. I will see this spirit of rebellion broken once and for all.’
1, 2, 3.
i’m counting for the thunder, hoping for dawn.