Feelings On Spanking

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Today started with my sister sending me an IM on Facebook about her wedding planning. Wedding planning for most is tedious and slightly annoying, so I wasn’t surprised by what she is going through. I am surprised however, that I am so JEALOUS she is getting a wedding shower when I didn’t. Or that she is getting help with her wedding, since I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I want my family to help her. It’s the right thing to do. I just wish they had treated me differently when I was in that place in my life. I may have been a little sad about it at the time, but it’s surprising that it makes me more sad now that I’m seeing the contrast as my sister goes through her life with a much different upbringing than what I experienced. I’m working on my feelings of jealousy.

One of the major differences…is our father. We have the same dad, but by the time she was 10, Mom had remarried and while our Dad was still a visitor in her life, he didn’t have the same presence as he did with me.

Which makes me remember the spanking.

I’m usually a very private person, my blog posts I keep fairly public-safe and as commercially acceptable as possible, but this morning I am compelled to dig a little bit deeper. To be a little more truthful. To share things in words that I’ve been hiding within songs and chord progressions for 20 years. Maybe others have the same experience, and my sharing will help you find ways to cope. Or maybe, like me, you’re a parent now and have a spirited child but a resistance to ever spank.

I’ve spanked Zoey before. She can be a very compliant and agreeable 2 year old sometimes, but will often challenge boundaries by directly disobeying as I say “No” as sternly as possible. The first spanking was for playing in the toilet. Both hands splashing in the toilet water. I knew I’d closed the lid…and I told her to “stop”. I removed her from the bathroom and cleaned her up. I kept the toilet lid down from them on, but she opened it. I closed the bathroom door, but sometimes people would forget, and she would be found splashing in the toilet again. Several times I had changed her clothes and cleaned her up after her play in the toilet, and told her quite sternly not to do it anymore. She refused to stop…then, one day when I walked in on her splashing in the toilet water, I felt in that moment that what she was doing could be putting her in contact with E-coli and a host of other horrible bacteria and germs, and I spanked her. I gave her butt a single swat. The overwhelming waves of personal guilt followed next. The words of Dr. Sears rang through my head, “How does being spanked make you feel?”…In my head I answered, “Unloved. Inferior. Helpless. Sad.” No parent wants their child to feel these things, and so I felt a lump in my throat and a huge burden of guilt for the swat on her butt, which did make her stop playing in the toilet. And she doesn’t play in the toilet now.

Since then, my occasionally defiant 2 year old has been spanked only for things where I’ve tried every other method and nothing has worked. Still, every time I feel immense guilt. And recently, if a spank must be deployed, I immediately think of my father, hitting me.

My relationship with Dad was a complicated one. I loved him, and I always felt that he loved me while growing up. When I was little he was by far my favorite parent, which I have to remind myself of when I start pouting to myself about not being the favorite child between my sister and I….because I too have had feelings of a “favorite”, so whether it’s Karma or just the balance of life, it is the way things are. I loved my Dad, But when he was angry, he couldn’t control himself.

This is where I usually delete everything I’ve written and write about something less controversial.

I’ve been spanked for as far back as I remember, and the spankings stopped when I was about 20. Yes, 20. The difference in the spanking “style” is what stands out to me most. I would be slapped 10, 20, sometimes 30 times in a spanking “session”, as I cried and covered my face and tried to move further away. Then the spankings became because I was crying. So I would have to hold my cries in, and endure a few more slaps until it would stop. At the beginning of spankings I began trying to not cry, but then they just got harder and more painful, because a spanking apparently can’t stop without some tears having been shed. Usually I was spanked because my room was messy. Sometimes it was for a bad teenage attitude. But for the most part, I can’t remember why. They were the normal, day-to-day offenses.

When a grown man hits a teenage girl in the face as hard as he can, it leaves a mark. Every time.

I had only one teacher when I was growing up that pulled me aside to ask questions about the marks he saw on me. I was relieved that it didn’t become more of an issue at the time, but it also instilled in me a belief that the people surrounding me do not care about me, or what I was going through. Whether that was true or not, the underlying feeling I had during that time in my life was that Nobody cares about you. You are worthless.

And then, the bruise would heal, the hand prints all over my thighs would fade away, our family would dutifully go to church where people would praise me for my supposedly “angelic” voice, and my family could pretend that everything was right behind our front door, and I would become “normal” again. Whatever that is.

Whenever I start talking like this, people try to silence me. And it usually works. I consider that I’m oftentimes wrong, and question my judgement. I am told that my words will hurt my father or prevent him from getting a job, and that I should stay quiet about it. For some reason, erasing true stories from the world doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.

I don’t consider myself an emotionally damaged person because of these weekly beatings in my childhood. I don’t have huge issues with trust like some people do, and I don’t feel that my entire childhood has been destroyed because of it. There are many facets to a person’s childhood, and the relationship with parents is just one parameter of that experience. It hasn’t destroyed me. What it has destroyed is my relationship with my parents.

And this is why I have overwhelming pangs of guilt when my resources for teaching have run dry and I have to administer a spank for my child. I fear destroying our relationship, and our bond. But the spanking “style” is different. I don’t spank in anger, possibly due to the help of St. John’s Wort and the occasional sip of wine from the refrigerator. I don’t scream that she is worthless, useless, lazy, or any other words that would tear down herself esteem and make her feel inferior. The spank alone gives enough emotions to deal with.

I think I’ll go have a little sip of that wine right now.

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