I write to get it out of my head.
My first memory of my mother’s deeply rooted and perverse ideology as it refers to her children was when I was a toddler. I was old enough to get around by myself and found absolute joy in having an effect on the world. I could relocate any object, retrieve said object or replace that object and move from room to room, with that object. I approached this new world of automated control with absolute joy! The freedom I felt after realizing that I did not have to ask, beg, or wait for what I needed or wanted was very similar to later memories of joy- like riding a ten speed as fast as I could away from my childhood home or driving a car alone for the first time, or finally leaving for college.
Long before all the other minor freedoms I’ve felt since that day, I experienced this horrid and perverse occurrence, the polar opposite of freedom, in the Bove household.
Firstly, my mother was always yelling.
This was a natural part of my life and of course I had not the concept of normal as yet, and not only did she yell a lot but she often lashed out at my two brothers and not in the all common technique of her fist. My mother’s abuse was perverse and deeply disturbing emotional manipulation, while causing physical harm with whatever household object was available to inflict the most emotional and physical harm possible.
As had become a ritual of normal, my brothers were still talking while lying in there beds at bedtime. They were maybe 10 and 12 years old on this evening that my mother and I were in the kitchen of our small house in Troy, NY. When my mother turned off the noisy sink, my brothers could be heard whispering and laughing and she became immediately furious. She was furious because she was positive they were making fun of her and the more she said it aloud, the more unhinged she would get. Being of delicate age and raised by this monster, I had been told (over and over) I was her best friend and her shinning star, and despite her ruthless ways, I wanted to be her hero. I remember trying to sooth her with hugs and kisses but soon came to the realization that there was only one thing I could do. So I grabbed the weapon right out of her hand and jumped down off my stool, and waddling, with that spatula in hand, down the dark scary hallway into my brother’s night light-lit room, I then proceeded to try unsuccessfully and amusingly from floor level to spank them with the spatula. Having caused no harm, they laughed at me and I was furious! I had to then climb each bed to spank them as hard as I could with the spatula, while screaming in baby-mom talk, just like my mommy did.
“I think Jodi just said I’m ‘..a little shit, god damn it!’ Ha ha ha…”
It was after many slaps with that kitchen spatula that I saw,
what the black marks on my brother’s arms and backs were.
There were varying stages of multiple hits from this very spatula I was holding, that our mother was able to inflict on my brothers. And I, even at body level could not have effect! All I remember feeling was inadequate because I wasn’t strong enough to leave a mark, and they laughed at me and kept talking too loud!
I failed at making them quiet for my festering mother and now she was going to go crazy! I remember feeling this kinda
feeling that became my normal upon recognizing those bruises for what they were.
After that experience I immediately started calling her mom, not mommy, an unconscious protest, as I became suddenly aware, in my child like way, that I was a monster’s ‘best friend in the world’. I was her little pumpkin.
That is the perpetual pitt in my stomach, the fear of the inevitable, the shame of co-conspiracy.
I remember feeling frightened and shameful, as the perpetrator and the victim alike. Her crazy was a scary blend of love, praise, shaming and punishment, and most adults that came into our lives in the coming years were wary of involvement. She was the brand of crazy that people really feared, and I found that no one would even try to help us.
“What happens in our house, stays in our house. Never speak of our business to others. All you have in this world is family. Without each other, we have nothing.”
These were the arguments that kept us from realizing that our house, our life as our parents’ children, was not normal. I started to notice fear in my brothers faces, and my baby sitters’ faces, when either parent confronted them, and routinely, time and again, no one helped us.
I can easily imagine how awful it would be like to be kidnapped or held against ones will by corrupt men and trafficked, or abused by their spouses or lovers, or harassed into perverse acts to maintain a fighting chance in the career of their choice, in response to their choices. I can imagine it much worse than I can describe by personal experience, but that feeling of entrapment in any situation in which another person has the power to hurt you really bad- that is the pitt in my stomach, the utter hopelessness that I shutter to imagine for any young person, and it is incapacitating sometimes still.
I had to get that out of my head.