Placeholder Memories and Animal Abuse

All my life, I’ve had what I’m going to refer to as placeholder memories. These are memories that have no contextual beginning or explanation for the feelings associated with them.  Since integration with my warrior persona, I’ve been gaining more and more insight into the other abuses we endured at the hands of our mother.  My warrior loathed and utterly rejected my mother, she accepted the mother’s various apologies but even at integration could never forgive her.  She also acted as the internal mother for the rest of us. She provided the safe and maternal comfort that my mother could not.

The first inkling I had of my mother being a violent, volatile person was a placeholder memory that has haunted me since adolescence.  I was about 13/14.  Old enough to act out and be a stubborn moody teenager.  I had said or done something forbidden, I think I had defied her verbally and talked back to her.  I remember seeing her eyes go wild, and the whites of her eyes.  I remember running.  RUNNING down the hall into the safety of my bedroom and bracing myswelf against the wooden door, praying it would hold.  I felt the cold speckled brown tile at the soles of my barefeet, the roughness of the door.  I was terrified each time she pushed hard enough to make it bounce open an inch or so.  I believe it was pure adrenaline that allowed me to keep the door closed.  All I knew was that if she got in BAD THINGS would happen.  I think I remember at all because we were all on alert, or maybe my warrior let me remember as a warning to not trust her.  That I needed to be aware of the inherent danger we faced every day.

The first therapist I told about this memory straight out asked me if my mother hit me.  I honestly didn’t know.  I felt inklings.  I remembered my mother screaming at me to stop cowering/trembling in her presence because “[she] never hit [me]”.

Bravery isn’t inherent, it doesn’t come naturally.  My warrior had to learn how to be brave, she learned how to properly adjust our body language and posturing to be neutral but also submissive and non-threatening.  When we were small she helped us do what we were screamed at to do, as we got older she helped us find our voice.  The bigger we got in size, the more even the playing field and she understood that.  She did what she could to keep us safe while we were small.

I remember being small, under 4 ft.  My mother would hit my sister and I with a fly swatter when we were misbehaving in her eyes.  A flyswatter is about 2 feet, so huge to a small child under 4 feet.  Combine the stinging pain of the sharp, quick strikes with the fear and confusion that being beaten brings and no wonder I cowered away from our mother.  She was not a patient person.

She treated dogs the same way.  She ignored them when they behaved, and when they misbehaved by barking too much or chewing on things she would beat them.  She would hit them hard enough to hurt her hand, so then she would use a shoe or other item.  Sometimes a newspaper, once she used a pan to beat a rottweiller over the head.  I watched her almost strangle my grandmother’s small dog to death because it had been chasing one of her cats.

I remember the sick sinking feeling of dread, disgust, and embarassment when she would beat the dogs in front of my or my sister’s friends.  I would tell them that she was actually cupping her hand, she wasn’t hitting them that hard.  I said it so many times that I almost believed it, I wanted that to be true.  She would shout and scream and rage at the dogs who were terrified of her.

She beat my sister and I like she beat the dogs.  And maybe she didn’t leave permanent physical scars, maybe she just used a fly swatter for fear factor.  Maybe I didn’t end up black and blue and in the ER because of her but it was horrifying nonetheless.  I was so afraid of her hitting me for being bad.  I was so afraid and confused for so long.

My mother beat me.  My mother beat me.  My mother. Beat me.

When I was younger I had a difficult time being around dogs, I didn’t understand them.  Child me didn’t understand why they didn’t know that they had to pretend to be brave.  They had to do what she wanted, why didn’t they just do what she wanted so that she would stop hitting them?  Child me didn’t understand that dogs don’t speak people.  Dogs speak dog.  Just like cats speak cat.

Body language is key.  At a fairly young age I became very interested in animal psychology which can be applied to humans as well.  Humans respond to body language in the same way, it’s just not a popular subject in mainstream culture, at least that I’ve observed as an adult.

Please, don’t hit your children.  Please, don’t hit your pets.

The only thing I could ever predict about my mother’s behaviour was that she was unpredictable.  She might be fine one minute then raging the next.  Some respond to violence with violence, I was too scared and I didn’t want to hurt anyone.  If I hurt as much as I did when being hit, didn’t everyone else?  If so, why would you do that to anyone? Ever?

So, more info into how the cocktail of chronic anxiety and stress developed inside me to create just the right chemical soup for fibromylagia to manifest as an adult.  Oh hindsight, how cruel you are.

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