Sunday, August 30, 2015

His Voice, Another's Words

Photo Description: Handwritten words in capital letters reading: Tomorrow you'll have to live with the things you said.
I understand the difference between coincidence and causation, I do. Even so, it's hard, sometimes, not to jump from one to the other. I'll admit, in this instance, I did.

We were on a brief vacation and though the weather was unseasonably cold the whole time, we had a good time. One day we were out walking with Ruby and Sadie, heading over the the museum, when we walked by a car filled to the brim with children and noise and chaos. Suddenly something smashed to the ground and an angry father appeared out of nowhere. "You stupid, stupid boy!!! You can't do anything right!!" Tears flowed silently down the boys face. I felt Sadie's hand slip into my own, it seemed that she had been frightened by the man's voice and felt his anger reverberate through the air. I too felt the narrow timbers that hold up my self esteem tremble as words, not aimed at me, nonetheless echoed within.

They were gone.

Car and all.

When we walked back.

Today Joe and I were headed down to do our grocery shopping. We like to go early so that the store isn't packed and the streets are quiet. We walked by a young man, sitting on the pavement where he'd slept the night before. His head was down and his voice a mumble, his face was hidden by the brim of a baseball cap, tattoos of red dragons chased each other around one leg. Just as we passed by the mumbles got louder. A block away, his voice exploded into the air. It was an angry voice, a harsh and hateful voice, his voice, saying another's words, "YOU STUPID, STUPID BOY!!!! YOU'LL BE NOTHING. NOTHING! NOTHING!!" Silence. Then. A sob.

I had change in my pocket on the way back.

But he was gone.

As if he'd become ... nothing.




Liz Miller said...

Thank you.

clairesmum said...

the image of an angry father's words still shivering the fragile timbers of your self esteem.....froze me....

I grew up in a household of abuse - dad a high functioning closet drinker, mom chronically anxious and depressed. my job was to 'help mommy'. and I did - by the time I was 10 I had (at different times) taken on all of my mother's roles - yes, all of them.
30 years of therapy and psychopharmacology have helped me put the pieces back together pretty well - but oh, those 'timbers of self esteem' are wobbly ones.
and the voices of abuse are in my head and cannot be silenced (ignored at times, drowned out at times, but never silenced) Their intention to protect me is good, but their method (to humiliate and shame me so that i only focus on what others need) repeats the same distortions of reality.

I was the child...I am terrified of becoming the adult...logic says no, logic means nothing to the voices in my head.
Giving up is not an option, so I keep trying to strengthen the "wobbly timbers" and learn live with the voices.
Thanks for sharing, Dave. You are one of my teachers, in learning to strengthen my wobbly timbers and in finding my own words and ways to challenge the voices.
i'm going to be brave and not hide behind 'anonymous' as i usually do when giving specifics of how i came to be.....

Anonymous said...

Words indeed hurt and leave scars. Just like one basks in words of encouragement, we shrivel under the words of scorn. How such words shape our childhoods. How parents need to be so careful to gently yet firmly shape their children. Like china, they are delicate. They still need to be washed and cared for, but with long term in mind. How sad to witness such devastation, and later to witness an outcome.

Anonymous said...

I once went on a hike with my niece. We saw a sapling onto which a large branch had fallen - causing it to double back to the ground. It must have been like that for a long time because when we took the large, dead branch away, the sapling remained bowed to the earth - it's upper branches growing towards the light.
So the saying, "As the twig is bent . . . so grows the tree!"

I'm grateful for the twigs that you have rescued from that fate during your career, Dave. And grateful that Sadie and Ruby will not have to suffer it either thanks to parents and relatives (including you and Joe) who have encouraged them to grow straight and true to themselves!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Clairesmum,thank you for your bravery in stepping from behind the anonymous curtain. I hope that act 'strengthens' the timbers. I find, for myself, that being 'out' about various aspects of who I am, makes the person who's 'in' a bit stronger. I hope the same works for you. Again, I'm honoured by your choice to speak openly here.

Anonymous said...

When I was about 11 my father told me I was "incapable of doing anything right". He apologized later and never said anything like that to me before that instance or again afterwards. All these years later I still remember that moment clear as day. My father was a good man but that statement ruled my life for a long time. No amount of apologizing can take back that comment. I loved my father but that one statement colored my relationship with him forever.