Living in the bible belt, my family might have seemed strange, but only a bit stranger than the rest. I was born in early 1988. Life was good for my parents. My dad worked several smaller jobs, my mom was a happy homemaker, my grandparents were hyped to have a grandchild. I was the center of attention, God’s blessing to everyone. My mother told me that the first months of my life, I was a dream of a baby. I hardly cried, I slept for long periods at a time, she didn’t have to get up more than twice a night. I was bald, but pretty.
My mother read a lot about raising children God’s way. Though I was spared by the horrors of “To train up a child”, the Pearl’s guidebook to send your child through living hell at this point in my life, my parents were defenders of spanking. A lot, and early. Sin was a child’s nature and you could only get rid of it by beating it out of your kids. I was a nice baby, but that changed soon enough. At a few months age, I apparently started showing signs of terrible sin. I was crying – a lot. I didn’t sleep through the night anymore. My mother was helpless. At that point, my mother was a few weeks pregnant again. I did not stop being a bratty baby. She had a miscarriage a few weeks after I started this “sinful behaviour”. My mom was devasted. He and dad met up with a few elders of the fundamentalist church we went to to get council. They concluded that my sin had brought evil into the house and the Evil One had caused the miscarriage. My dad told me that he first doubtedthis; it seemed too weird. My mother fell into deep depression, but it wasn’t interpreted as depression. It was the Evil one’s influence in our house that caused her to cry all day and night, to not care for herself or me anymore. The house was a mess, food was never on time. This was not what my parents signed up for when they got married.
It took my dad a few weeks to adapt the thought that I was in fact possessed by the Evil One. Keep this in mind, as it came in handy for everyone to explain my behaviour throughout my life. He finally wrapped his head around this thought and again sought advice how he should best handle me and get the Evil One out of our house. My parents started to treat me with what they later called “biblical training”. Before it seems to me they were loving and caring parents. The events of those last months had changed their view.
One of my earliest memories is me in the dining room. For a long time I didn’t know if it was true, but I asked my mother and she confirmed that my memory was correct. I was a few months short of 2 years.
There was – and is – a sideboard in the dining room. In this sideboard, my mom stores the fancier plates and some soup bowls. I can’t explain until today why should would place something fancy within a toddler’s reach.
We had just returned from a walk, or maybe from the garden. I know I still wore my street shoes and my coat. My parents left the room. I looked around and opened the door of the sideboards. There were the plates. I grabbed one and it fell. The noise was delightful and I laughed. Again! I grabbed another plate and let it drop. It was music in my ears. Alarmed by the noise, my parents came in. I don’t know what they said then, the next thing is I remember being thrown on by bed and beaten with a stick. The pain was numbing. I was crying, begging, but they wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t a soft stick, rather a cane. I was left to lay in my bed with no dinner. My mom explained to me that at this point my dad finally realized how evil my behaviour was and that from that point onward he tried everything to rid me of my evil spirits.
This wasn’t my only beating and by far not my severest, but it is one of the most prominent ones in my mind. It is hard for me to see the injustice in this until today. I was a bratty child. An evil child. That’s what I learned all my life. I find it hard to say that my parents beating me back then was wrong. I have been told by outsiders that it was, but it’s still a concept hard to grasp for me.