The Abused Becomes the Abuser

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I’ll never forget the time he pushed me so hard I fell out of my chair. His palms hit my chest like a grenade going off.

SMAAAAACK.

then

BOOOOM.

I fell straight back.

It’s a good thing I was near the ground already. That’s the thing about having OI, you can break a rib by simply sneezing, but sometimes you fall out of your wheelchair and you’re perfectly fine like a non-disabled kid might be. Though most times it’s the former and not the later that happens.

I lied there in confusion. He actually hit back this time? He actually hit me?!

After the shock wore off, I sat up from the carpet, trembling. He knew never to lay a hand on me–or rather to be exceptionally careful– because if our parents got home and found out he’d hurt me, he’d be in trouble. He broke my arms and legs on several occasions but always on accident. This was the first time he’d put physical force to my provocation. It must have been difficult to play and deal with your little Tasmanian-devil sister who has a brittle bones condition and a serious anger management problem.

****

“Aaaaaah! Motherfucker! You could have broken my bones! And my back! You could’ve snapped my back!” I yelled. I was still trembling.

“Well, how do you expect me to act when you’re so fuckin’ mean all the time?! HUH?! Always hitting and scratching me, yelling and cursing at me and throwing shit at me! HOW SHOULD I FEEL!? How do you think I feel?! You need to calm down! You treat me… I’m just… sick of it. You treat me like shit, so how do you expect ME to feel and react?”

I listened to his lecture with burrowed brows, pursed lips, flaring nostrils and a lowered head. My heart beat faster and faster with every word and I just wanted to attack. But I listened to him go on about how I’d end up an old, lonely, bitter woman if I went on like that (yes, he was saying this to a thirteen-year-old Negative P). I listened to him go on about how he was sick of my abuse and how I needed to change. On and on he went. As his voice droned over me, I began to stare down with a passive, stark look as if it didn’t faze me. As if I didn’t care.

“Are you done?” I looked up.

“No I’m not done!”

“Well, why don’t you just hit me then you fucker, push me again and you’ll see! You’re not my dad! And you’re not my mom! You’re shit!”

“See what? What the fuck P? What’s your problem? Man, I ain’t doing shit to you! I’m only trying to make you see clearly! And you’re not even listening! I’m trying to teach you something so you can learn not to act like this.”

There was a painful silence as we both stared at each other in the hallway.

“You don’t care do you?!”

I didn’t answer.

He sighed and squinted his eyes as if to search for what I held so tightly in my chest. I would not let my pain show, not even in my eyes. The tears would come later when no one could see. He stared at me with indignation until the spell in him passed. Then he stormed off to his room and I was left sitting there alone with my thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

****

I went to my room. I cried and cried and hurt myself all evening–scratching, biting and banging my head against the dresser. I had to make up an excuse for the bruises when my parents got home. They actually bought it, or so I thought. I don’t recall much of that part.

And I didn’t apologized to him until many years later, but then again, neither did he. He was only trying to do his best as an older brother, despite the futile and misguided attempt.

I was in middle school then. And with middle school came rejection and isolation. I was a tiny bottle of nitric acid, fuming at the edges, bubbling at the brim ready to spill and corrode anything I touched. It was a matter of time before I’d self destruct–explode or implode and consume anything around me like a black hole.

****

Shortly after, sometime that same year, I discovered the band Orgy. They had just made a remake of New Order’s “Blue Monday” and I would get all giddy when the music video came on MTV. This week I chose that song because it reflects the transition I made from being the “abused child” to becoming “the abuser”. I’m sure my mother had the same transformation after years of being devalued, beaten and watching her parents nearly kill each other with kitchen knives, furniture and broom sticks. I don’t blame her for the violent ways she dealt with me; I know she had been traumatized, was a child herself. It still doesn’t make it right though.

****

We all have a punching bag. Some of us only need a small punching bag. I needed one much, much larger than myself, especially those years–my angriest, raging years–so I chose my brother and myself. Even that wasn’t enough for the beast that lay within me. Then Eloise came to live with us and, to an extent, I made her my psychological punching bag too. I’m thankful the two of them are still my friends.

And that’s how the abused becomes the abuser I suppose. How does it feel? Like fuckin’ shit.

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Oh, I included both versions of “Blue Monday”. The first version represents that little abused and angry, explosive and bloodied thirteen-year old mouse bordering on psychopath-to-be mouse. It will forever remind me of that time he pushed me and the many times we fought and how he would often lecture me to no avail (it was the first time he pushed me but definitely not the last). I even made my poor brother cry on numerous occasions. If only he knew how much I was hurting though… If only someone had known, had told me I wasn’t a bad kid for feeling so angry, self-loathing, sad, suicidal, empty and alone.

I sat there with my bruised head thinking, How should I feel? No one asks me that. How the fuck should I feel? Everyone tells me how I should feel but no one really asks.

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Orgy’s remake, 1998

New Order’s original version, 1983