“We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time”
– T.S. Eliot
“I hit my child yesterday” she tells me, grief etched all over her face. “It just happened. She was testing me all day.
We went out and did things she loves in the morning. I said yes to things that she asked for. It was a lovely morning. Then we came home and I was tired but I managed to just be with her and we played and loved.
It wasn’t flowing though. It wasn’t easy. She was restless – you know that feeling like you must keep her happy otherwise things are going to go badly very quickly. It’s not like I feel I need to keep her ok or anything. I mean I do say no to her – maybe too often actually. But… I didn’t really pick it up until I’m saying it now, I think I was afraid of her exploding. Maybe I felt I was too tired and raw to handle her losing it… I don’t know.
Anyway of course as soon as things didn’t go her way all the nice stuff I’d done went right out the window. She screamed and hit her sister and went to the cupboard and stole sugar right out of the jar with her hand and crammed it into her mouth before I could reach her… It was chaos.
I tried to talk and reason and love but I felt helpless. I held her to help her release her feelings. I was holding myself together still but she kicked me and it really hurt and then she looked me right in the face and tipped over a precious vase. Without thinking I gasped and then just lifted my arm high and HIT her. I don’t know what happened. It was like, instinctual.
I felt so bad. Afterwards I apologised and hugged her and we talked about it but this deep sadness stayed in me. I don’t want to have hit her. I don’t want to be that person. But I did it – so I must be…” Tears roll down her cheeks.
“What were you feeling in the moment you gasped and hit her?” I ask gently
“Well, I think it was just shock. I was so hurt. I couldn’t believe someone could look right at me and deliberately cause me pain like that. Want to hurt me. Especially someone I love.”
“Have you ever had that feeling before in your life? When you were a child?”
A moment of thought
“Oh I know this! It’s me with my mother!” Then the sobs come. Body shaking, heart-breaking wrenching sobs.
The hurt of all that time ago finally finding expression.
“I can’t believe she would hurt me like that. She was so scary. She’d shout and hit – it was like living in a tornado. And when it was quiet the storm was always just around the corner anyway. I’d always be on the lookout for it. I’d have to know her moods because if she was slightly off-balance… Always watching her, always wary. Shoulders hunched and eyes large. That’s how I grew up.”
A deep quiet sits with us in the room.
“You mentioned that yesterday you were afraid of your daughter exploding. That you had to keep her happy otherwise things would go badly very quickly. Is there any similarity to how you felt back with your mother?”
“Oh it was the same! JUST the same!!! I was anxious – almost scared of my daughter yesterday. Like she would explode and then I would be in for it. I can see now I was like a scared little child.”
(This story has been shared with permission. This mom hopes it will help others.)