Melting Memory Masks: Cynthia Jeub’s Story
Trigger warnings: child abuse, self-harm
Hey, girl, open the walls, play with your dolls, we’ll be the perfect family. –Melanie Martinez
~eight years ago~
“Mom, dad, I’ve been hurting myself since I was four. I’ve kept it a secret for ten years, and I don’t think anybody else in the world does it. I want to tell you because we’re going to film for TV, and I might lose control in front of the cameras. I don’t want to make our family look bad.”
“Are you still doing it?”
“No. I quit a few years ago.”
“Then your sin is forgiven. We’ll go ahead with the filming. Just don’t tell anyone.”
Picture! Picture! Smile for the picture! Pose with your brother, won’t you be a good sister?
~seven years ago~
“Mommy, stop hitting him! He’s only eleven!”
“Do something, Cynthia! I’m scared…she’s not stopping!”
~a few days later~
“What happened to him? Did he get in a fight with his brother?”
“No. Mom got mad and slapped him. She wouldn’t stop, so I pulled her off of him. He’s wearing makeup so you can’t see the whole bruise and where he was bleeding.”
Everybody thinks that we’re perfect; please don’t let them look through the curtains.
~six years ago~
“I’m going to sit here while the producer interviews you. I’m here to help you remember to say what’s true.”
“Okay, daddy. I trust you.”
Don’t let them see what goes down in the kitchen.
~five years ago~
“Mom, look! I watched ten kids and cooked food and cleaned the house while you were gone!”
“You didn’t do the dishes?! You don’t appreciate that I was gone shopping all day. I do so much work around here, and I can’t be gone for a few hours without coming home to a mess! I need to work in a clean kitchen, and it’s your fault I can’t! I don’t ask for much!”
Places, places, get in your places
~three years ago~
“Is it that cutting thing again? I thought you were over that.”
“I’m scared because I want to kill myself, daddy.”
“Are you sure you’re not just trying to fit in with your college friends, pretending to have problems like theirs?”
No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens
~two years ago~
“You’re not telling your therapist that you’re having problems with self-harm and depression, are you?”
“No, mom. I’m there because I’m angry with my two older sisters for turning their backs on God and being rebellious, and hurting my parents.”
“Good. I don’t think that’s really something to tell your counselor about.”
Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.
~one year ago~
“I remember when you were spanked with a belt every day, even though you didn’t do anything wrong most days.”
“So you remember that, too? Weird…I asked mom why they did that, and she said it never happened. I thought there must be something wrong with me.”
“Do you remember that one time that mom slapped your face until you had cuts and bruises, and I had to pull her off of you?”
“I know it happened because you and our other siblings were there, but I don’t remember it.”
“You blocked it out?”
“I guess so. Anyway, she said she was so sorry, and it would never happen again.”
“Did it happen again?”
“Yeah, but I was asking for it then. I was a disagreeable boy when I was going through puberty.”
“Don’t you think maybe moms shouldn’t hit their kids over and over until they bruise?”
“Our parents aren’t that bad, Cynthia. You need to stop saying that they’re abusive.”
I see things that nobody else sees.
Part Two >
About the Author
Cynthia Jeub is a blogger at Cynthiajeub.com where she writes about insights on epic living. As a writer, she focuses on faith, philosophy, and the importance of storytelling. She’s most well-known for her reality TV appearances with her family of 18 on The Learning Channel and WE-TV. A theatre major at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, she edits for her school’s student newspaper, The Scribe.
HA note: In light of these allegations by Cynthia (one of Chris Jeub’s daughters), the HARO board is uncomfortable with hosting Chris’s post, “Stiff-Necked Legalism.” We have retracted that post and its comments.