Editorial note: published retroactively July 6, 2020, unedited. See the recap post of 2019 for crucial spoilers on how this ended up turning out.
I'm resisting the urge to write on a really weirdly primal level, which is probably a strong indicator that I should write something.
I've been reflecting a bit today; not entirely sure what prompted any of it anymore, or how I wound up in this particular thought-region, but here we are. I usually try to be really disciplined about distinguishing between relatives and actual family, but I feel pretty raw at the moment and probably need to just get things on the page instead of crafting my wording too much, so for the next little while, I may be imprecise in that particular set of language.
I fucking hate my family.
I mean... I have a bunch of people related to me who I don't even really know and barely even remember exist. They're... indifferent, I suppose. I have one sister who is actually pretty cool but still at a place where interaction with her is a net negative for me in terms of energy and such. One nibling I actually really want to connect with better. One brother-in-law who is a metric fuckton of human shit and deserves a category of rage and ire all for himself.
So I guess what I really mean is I hate my parents.
I... wish I didn't, in a way. I wish I could still care about them and trust them and want to have any kind of a relationship with them. Deep down in my heart I am still really sad that they did what they did. And deep down I wish there was some path through the future where I could tell them who I really am. Before they're gone.
But for all the ache and tears that well up when I think of that, I just keep coming back to all the harm.
I come back to the beatings. Never enough to leave discernible marks; that would arouse suspicion and maybe even make them think twice about what they were doing to their own goddamn child. But beatings. The sweet spot is to leave the kid unable to walk comfortably but provide no observable evidence that they were repeatedly struck to create that situation.
There is a certain tier of fucked up depravity that drives a person to violently beat their own child on a frequent basis. There is another, worse tier where someone will have "funny" conversations with other like-minded parents about whether or not it counts as "child abuse" with the clear implication that they're simply looking to justify and rationalize their behavior.
And it gets worse; there's a tier where people will systematically combine psychological and emotional abuse with the beatings, to the point where simply making a particular facial expression, or using a specific tone of voice, or alluding to a particular word – any of these things can instantly produce terror and helpless submissiveness in the child. I don't need to hit you anymore, because all I need to do is give you that shitty head-tilt and stare, and you know that if you don't fall the fuck in line immediately I will end up wailing on you with some random fucking object until you do what I want.
Bonus points: tell your child to contemplate how it's actually all your fault as they convalesce from their contusions. It's all for your own good. It hurts me more than it hurts you. This is what love looks like.
If you ever, in any situation in life whatsoever, find yourself about to rationalize non-consensual violence by claiming it is acceptable as an act of love – and especially if you're talking about smacking your own child around – please press pause, step away from things for a second, and ask yourself what the fucking hell is wrong with you that you have become such a degenerate and vile sack of fucking shit. Do not return to existence until you can provide reasonable assurances to the human realm that you have thought better of your idiocy and will, as appropriate, go fuck yourself in an act of humility and contrition.
Mom didn't hit me much. I suppose I sort of appreciate that. But she also never did anything to stop it, or any of the myriad other forms of blatant abuse I had to live through.
I remember a moment when I was 17 and nearly ready to move the fuck out of the house. I don't recall exactly what my misdeed was, but I do remember my dad grabbing me roughly, and essentially saying, "You're not 18 yet; I can still hit you."
Maybe it shouldn't have been such a terrible threat. Maybe I should have responded differently, or something, I don't know. What I do know is that 17+ years of being hit, and hundreds of times as many threats, added up to a lot; there was no way in fuck I wasn't going to freeze and panic and drop directly into subservience mode.
For fuck's sake, he could probably still make certain gestures now and I'd reflexively panic. Train up a child? Nah, fuck that. Beat the shit out of your kid, and they'll definitely never get over it.
A small handful of times, at a certain window in my life, it made sense for me to babysit one of my nephews. For a portion of those events, I had "disciplinary rights" – idiot euphemism for "you can spank the kid if you want."
I only remember even trying to do it maybe two or three times, ever. I vividly remember being confused by the results. Even at that phase of my life I had a vicious (but carefully concealed) habit of punching inanimate objects. I generally had to be careful about hitting things because I knew I could easily break my hands. I had technique and a moderate amount of strength to draw on. And yet when I went to hit my nephew I simply couldn't. I ordered a sickening smack and delivered a negligible tap.
It bothered me, for a few years. What did it mean? Why couldn't I do this simple act? And then I put it out of my head and ignored it for ages.
Tonight, earlier, I finally realized the blindingly obvious truth. I couldn't hit a child because I can't hit a child. This isn't some indicator of my deficiency as a parent or some shit. I just fundamentally can't bring myself to violently strike a kid.
I'm a little proud of this, now. Certainly, I'm very relieved that, even after all the fucked up nonsense I had to crawl through in life, I didn't really internalize the barbaric poison idea that it's a good thing to beat a kid.
I go back to the image, of one or both of my parents passing on, and me just sitting there trying to comprehend the reality that they died not knowing who I am.
Maybe it would be better that way. I have no way to know. I never did manage to make a committed decision about any of this; sometimes it's really just as simple as you lost your rights to your daughter somewhere around the time you started beating her.
And sometimes I just can't quite let go of that lonely, desperate ache, of a scared girl, lost and helpless, who just wants her parents to come and make everything OK again.
Did you ever actually love me? Or are you the reason why it's easier for me to believe that I don't deserve to be loved? Because I just can't handle the idea that you're so fucked up you would do all of that shit to your own child?
On a significantly happier wavelength... I love my name. Amelia is just... so fucking yes. I need a word for perfect, right, snug-fitting, warm and comfy and comforting, worn in but an eternity from being worn out.
I've written about the feelings I had the day I discovered my name. I still love the moments when whatever layer of my brain refreshes the linkage... "Amelia? Oh, shit, that's me!" Chills.
I hope that never fades. I don't know if that's a silly thing to hope for, but then I've never actually known my name before, so I have no idea what to expect. In any case, I kind of hope that someday, locked in the maddening confines of the nursing home or whatever, I still have those moments – where I do some horrendous elderly maladaptation of flirty shit with a nurse or whatever, and she just gives me a coy smile, and she quietly says, "shut up and take your pills, Amelia."