Saturday, December 30, 2017

Poverty of Being

"You don't need that!!! You are too fat already!" said a sharp and harsh voice. Though the comment wasn't aimed at me, though I was only rolling by, I felt slugged in the gut. I'd heard those words before. I'd heard that tone before. The shame I felt for a very long time rose afresh. I thought I'd buried it deep, I thought I'd conquered it, but no, here it was again filling me. Nausea coiled in my stomach, sweat broke out on my back and shoulders.

Ahead of me was a little girl, with her mom, the girl held in her hands a sugary cereal, her face looked freshly slapped. Her cheeks stinging with red. She was frozen to the spot. "Now put that back." She did as she was told. Her body, not her mind, followed the instruction. Her face was blank as if she had stop existing in her body and only a dull fear shone out her eyes.

Her mother saw the hurt.

She looked ..

She looked ...


"I only say these things for your own good."

The tyrants ready excuse for inexcusable behaviour.

I saw in the face of the little girls mom what can only be called a little thrill of superiority. She not only powerful because she was older, because she held the purse, because she wore the title 'Mom,' but because she was thin and pretty. Her daughter was an easy victim. She had bought her status as fat and ugly - even though those things weren't actually true - so she didn't fight back.

Rolling by I had a thousand things to say. And I said none. My voice. A fat voice speaking round vowels would not be heard. I knew that. I also knew that for a child fearing a lifetime of being less than because she was a bit more than, I am not an advocate she would want. Finally, I was afraid that the mother's cruelty would be reignited and the little girl's soul was still freshly bleeding.

As I continued away I thought of the triumphant look on the mother's face. I wondered at her poverty of being. That one gets affirmation from inflicting hurt on a child, your child, seems to me to be an almost desperate act from someone with a heart full of nothing. 

In a week, the mother will have forgotten this interchange.

I can say for certainty, that that little girl, never will.

It will be packed in her luggage when she leave home. It will colour the stories she tells about her childhood, the way she remembers her mother. Because power is coming to her. She doesn't know it yet.

But it is coming.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Even without the mother having the look and sound of triumph, even without the mother bing thin, those words are never forgotten. Even if the mother really means those words to help, the words are never forgotten.

clairesmum said...

"for your own good" is just the bully's way of putting 'sheep's clothing on a wolf' to do great harm.
"for your own good" is code for 'this experience is making me feel good" - and when it comes from the mouth of a parent or anyone who is in a role of power over the recipient of the insult, it is intended to pierce the heart and turn love to shame.
"This hurts me more than it hurts you" is another code phrase used when punishment is being administered - blaming the victim for the pain that you are inflicting, with your words or your hands.

And my heart was hurt just reading your words, Dave. You write so well and I too am another person who has been in that child's shoes.

Shannon said...

I had an elementary school teacher who liked to say sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me but I always knew that wasn't true. Words matter.