This Girl’s Life

22 03 2007

I was, by all admissions, my father’s favorite child.  His blatant favoritism incited hatred in my siblings and, worse, my mother.  To be fair, I can now see that their hostility was misdirected anger toward my father for neglecting them, for choosing to spend the bulk of his free time with me.  They were denied attention that was so liberally bestowed upon me, and they despised me for it.  I think they loathed my father as well, but were blinded by their want of affection from him and saw me as the sole reason for the absence of it.  My father and I were a pair.  Inseparable.  Neither my mother nor my siblings were ever doted upon by him, not in the way that I was.

My father held a position within his company that required a good deal of travel.  He was often gone for several weeks at a time, stretches of days in which I was vulnerable to matriarchal attacks of both a verbal and physical nature.  It was a joyous day when he would return, unknowingly offering me protection from my tormentor.  With him, I was safe.

But one day he was gone, permanently, and there would be no more shelter, no more rescues.  Although I still had one parent who remained above ground, to whom I was legally bound, when my father passed away I became an orphan or, more accurately, a step-sibling with a story that rivaled that of Cinderella.

My mother, who had been left a widow at the age of 40, who had four children to care for, was as devastated as she was bitter and angry.  Her rage was largely directed at me, the easy target, in that I was constantly seeking her company and – desperate to the point of pathetic – her approval.

It didn’t take much to get it, to get her, started.  Sometimes it took literally nothing at all.  Soap scum remnants on a scrubbed shower door, a towel hung in an incorrect location, a tone or a look that she’d imagined she’d heard or seen — these infractions were dealt with an extreme severity.  Pulled hair, slapped face, a belt, a hairbrush, a fist.  But it was the words that did the most damage.  It was the loathing and disgust behind those words that formed the deepest wounds.  The hatred behind their formation was palpable, cutting in places that refuse to bruise or bleed, places that take years to scab over and heal, if they ever really do.

It would almost always begin the same way.  It got to be so that I could gauge by the slam of the car door whether or not it would be a peaceful night, nights which, sadly, were few and far between.  Night after night, my mother found a justification for her attack.  Night after night, she came.

“Get on the scale.  Let’s see how fat you are today.”

I was not a petite child, and was well aware of this fact.  Weight was not a subject that failed to touch me; I detested my appearance and the excess fat that I carried.  I knew that it was vile – that it was ugly.  I didn’t need to be told that I was grotesque – I lived with that knowledge with every waking moment.  But my mother was adamant that I would not forget this repulsive appearance, taking it upon herself to remind me at every created opportunity.

“You’re disgusting.  Look at you!  Fat slob.  You can’t even walk up a flight of stairs without panting.  You pig.  It’s pathetic.  You’re pathetic.”

These critiques were often punctuated with a smack or a pinch in an offending area and would end with my backing myself up into the nearest corner, hands and forearms raised to shield my face, midsection hunched naively in an effort to protect as much of my person from the strikes that would arrive.  When the blows struck no longer, I would open my eyes to find myself alone in the bathroom, red and welted – reduced to little more than a broken heart and a shredded ego, surrounded by a fatty shell.

Yet, despite this, despite these horrors to which my mother had subjected me, I adored her, and wanted for her to love me; I wanted this desperately.  I prayed for her love as often as I prayed for the return of my father.  Each night for months and months and months, each night I would wait until she fell asleep, and would gently ease myself under the sheets and into her bed, lying quietly, stretching my toes carefully toward her, until they softly grazed her leg –  toes to calf providing me with the physical contact that would allow me to find the comfort needed to fall asleep

I would be gone when she awoke, back in my own bed, hoping that the night before would be the last of its kind.

Sadly, it was not.



20 responses

22 03 2007
Carrie M

the next time i see you i’m giving you the biggest hug of your life. you are so beautiful and lovely, k. the light that shines within you, like what i was telling you earlier today, is far too bright to be put out by ANYthing.

22 03 2007
DCBlogs » DC Blogs Noted

[…] This Girl’s Life by FreckledK. She was her father’s favorite child, a status that drew hostility from others in the family …. but then he was gone … … and there would be no rescue in my immediate future.  Although I still had one parent remaining, when my father passed away I became an orphan or, more accurately, a step-sibling with a story that rivaled that of Cinderella. […]

22 03 2007

That’s heartbreaking. You must have incredible inner strength to have moved past that part of your childhood.

22 03 2007

You are an amazingly beautiful woman!
I’m sorry you had to go through that and you are very brave to put this all out there. Now that it is out there maybe it can help wash it away.

22 03 2007

I’ve got so many things going through my head right now. Offline.

22 03 2007

We had a pretty big scare recently with my dad’s health, because of that your previous posts about your father nearly had me sobbing.

This post just broke my heart. You have amazing strength not only to have survived this intact, but to be able to talk about it. That is always the hardest part.

22 03 2007

Nothing that can be said can wash away the heartache of what you went through. So brave of you to have come through the other side as whole and as beautiful as you are.

22 03 2007

Oh my.. I got all teary-eyed from reading this post (and the same happened with the other two).
It brought back some feelings and memories that I’ve been trying to block out for years. It’s so amazing that you’ve come to a place in your life where you can write about this – Shows a huge amount of strength.
Beautifully written.

22 03 2007

Therapy is telling the same story over and over again, until it no longer hurts to do so.

I relayed this history of mine to a friend, over margaritas and chips and salsa. By the end of it, she was inconsolable and I was eerily detached. I’m not quite sure what that means, but think it notable.

Thank you all for your very kind words. It’s brilliant, having the support of those you admire.

22 03 2007

Wow! Just Wow! When I met you, you were so kind, funny, and beautiful! It did not take long for me to know that we would become friends. You are an AMAZING woman full of confidence and charm. You are not only a survivor, you are a hero to so many other women out there! For that, I am honored to know you friend! :)

23 03 2007

That was beautiful and horrible, and in many ways I empathize with all the emotions here. Thank you for sharing this, and thanks to KOB at DC Blogs for pointing this post out. Really, really excellent.

23 03 2007

“And, when they finally ceased, I would open my eyes to find myself alone in the bathroom, red and welted and broken. Reduced to nothing but a broken heart and a shredded ego, surrounded by a fatty shell.”

Um. Wow.

Yeah, that’s about all I’ve got. Wow. Gut-wrenching and brilliantly written. I would just echo most of what’s been said already.

As a casual observer, there’s a part of me that would prefer to believe (hope?) that the last few posts were just scenes, parts of a larger novel or story. But there’s a little too much raw authenticity there; I can’t convince myself, much as I’d rather.

But still. Wow.

23 03 2007

WOW I had no idea and I am so sorry. You are full of beauty and intelligence and the fact that you came out of that awfulness so filled with love is HUGE. And admirable. Your strength is amazing.

29 03 2007
6s & 7s

I feel your pain. My mom is obese. Throughout my life, at least once a week, I would hear how “ONE DAY” I would be “as fat as her” and I keep thinking every day that that day gets closer. I feel guilty when I eat and feeling a rumbling stomach is actually comforting. My dad was 6’3″ and skinny as a rail. I guess I got his body type but I’ll never be convinced I am thin.

29 03 2007

Thank you all again for the kind words.

***6s & 7s – Obese or not (and you are most certainly NOT), you’d still be the hottest bitch in town.

18 05 2007

I came across your blog a few days ago and was catching up. I just wanted to comment, your strength is admirable. I lost my father when I was 13. Other circumstances aside, that changes you. I can’t imagine to have dealt with that, and growing up and losing a mother as well. Thank you for sharing your words. They truly are beautiful and honest.

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