After my father died in 1979 my mother began playing a game with me I eventually named “Blame Bill and Iola.” It actually began before that but it began in earnest in 1979 when she filed for divorce and my Father had the audacity to up and die on her six weeks later before she could get him into court and air all the dirty linen.

This may or may not have been linked to the fact that I had ended up on the psych ward and was being treated for depression in 1978 and had partially confessed the family dirty linen to “The Pink Shrink” (everyone who is anyone will remember HER. She always wore pink and she was our circuit rider counselor affectionately referred to as the pink shrink. I wonder if she knew that?) I think it was.

She really upped the ante after I had moved to Wisconsin and been living there for a couple of years and started digging around in my psyche with a little more enthusiasm and with more experienced therapists in the early 80s. Plus I had written a term paper about incest that I had given her to read that talked about the complicity of the mothers. Every time I went to Nebraska to visit we spent most of our alone time talking about how miserably my father had treated her and abused me and how Iola was to blame for the fact that my Mother did not respond appropriately when I disclosed the incest.

All the misery in the world was Bill and Iola’s fault. oh sigh… what can we do? woe and sorrow…

I finally told her I did not want to play that game anymore. She said it wasn’t a game. I said whatever, I didn’t want to do it anymore, that I had worked through my shit with my father and that if she was still needing to work through stuff she needed to go back to therapy. She was miffed and she did try to play the game but I was firm.

So what has that got to do with sparing the rod? Well, in the course of blaming my father for everything my mother told me this anecdote:

I got my first spanking when I was six weeks old. The reason? I would not quit crying in church so my father took me out and bared my little bottom and spanked me.

SIX WEEKS OLD. I weighed 8lbs and 2oz when I was born so probably weighed right around 9 pounds. My father was a big man. 6’2″ probably over 200lbs even then and certainly strong because he lifted weights when he was in the service.

If this wasn’t a testimony to his insanity and the fact that he should have never been left alone with a child again, I do NOT know what was. But did my mother take me and leave? Did she even consider it? No she did not.

She was upset but it never occurred to her that she should protect her child and get the hell out of dodge. In fact, she went on to have three more children with this maniac.

She married a man, a boy really, that her mother disapproved of who came from a family she herself disapproved of who had recently been discharged from the military because of mental health problems. By this time she had no doubt been the victim of his temper herself on more than one occasion. In fact, I’m sure of it. She told me so. And he beat her only child in public when that child was six weeks old.

What kept her from running home to Mama who would have been more than happy to help her and had the means? Want my opinion? Of course you do. PRIDE. Insufferable pride.

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