Effects of Common Words

November 7, 2007
By Skyler McCode, Fredericksburg, VA

They said sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. They lied! My life changed drastically when I was seven. It lasted for six years and the scar that has been left will be with me for a lifetime. I try not to remember the events and I think I have trained my mind and soul to slowly repress them. I don’t remember some of the events now but I remember enough to tell the story. He hurt me, and he hurt me deep. He never touched me but he hurt me with his words.

When I was younger it had only been my mom and me. It was me and her against the world, until she told me she was getting married and some new man was going to start living with us. He came to our house for dinner on more than one occasion; I knew who he was. I thought he was just a good friend that made my mom smile a lot; I didn’t have a problem with that. He was kind of short for a man in my opinion, with a shiny bald head. He was very muscular and he claimed he had been in the military. He always had the best stories to tell about this and that. Of course I believed him. I didn’t care that he was moving in as long as he got me whatever I wanted. With any seven year old you can buy their love, it doesn’t take much. I liked him when he didn’t live with us. When he moved in, my mom had a shiny new ring on her finger and they were officially married things began to change.

As the months progressed I realized my life began to change; or, was I noticing things about him that occasional visits don’t tell you? He woke up too early in the morning for me, and it was always to some gospel music loudly playing. I was a religious person but he took it to the extreme. He was also very demanding, strict, and yelled too much for me; eating dinner with him every now and then hadn’t revealed this to me either. He slept in the same bed as my mother which meant he took over my spot. That was my place to go to when I was scared, wanted to be showed love or just wanted to smell my mother. He took that from me.

When I was eight I had matured some and was getting used to this new guy and his ways. Until school started, it seemed he had nothing better to do than to discipline me. I had to do this and that, with the never-ending chores. This was the first time I had been introduced to the words fat, overweight, or chubby, and they hurt. He felt it was his responsibility to make these words a common usage in his vocabulary when he talked to me. I cried, but I would never let him see that he had gotten to me and I didn’t tell my mother either. She seemed like she was happy and I didn’t want to ruin that for her over some words. He began to put his words to action with running. Every morning before school he would make me run two miles. He claimed this would help me in the long run, but I didn’t understand. I thought he just wanted to see me suffer and enjoyed watching me hurt. Some of the weight did come off, but not much. My body was still growing and he didn’t understand that.

He told me he loved me and I believed him, I thought maybe it was just tough love and I began to call him dad. My relationship with my mother was slowly dying and I couldn’t seem to do anything about it because he was always there. My mother and I didn’t spend time alone anymore; our traditions of getting our hair done and eating lunch together on Saturdays began fading away. He controlled everything in that house. If it didn’t involve him or church we didn’t participate in it, and we’d deal with this for three more long years. He claimed he believed in God and that he was an ideal Christian. I never questioned or doubted him. I just listened and obeyed because good kids were the only ones that went to heaven. My childhood was slowly fading away and being taken advantage of. I didn’t spend much time with other kids because in his eyes they would influence me to do ungodly things; my mind wasn’t ready for that according to him. From that experience I’ve become shy around people; I never learned how to have confidence and be open since I was always shut out from the world.

I couldn’t do certain things that were normal for other kids and the rules where never-ending. I was told listening to certain music or watching certain shows was ungodly and not the right thing to do, but all the normal kids seemed to be doing it. He controlled what I ate. I couldn’t eat and enjoy the good food like pizza and ice cream because to him I was too big and the weight had to go. Other kids used to get the better food in their lunch box, like Fruit Roll-Ups, while I was stuck with the nasty healthier foods like carrots and broccoli. His words hurt so much that I couldn’t stand to look in a mirror. Was I really that bad? I thought I looked just like the other kids. Why couldn’t I be normal and beautiful in his eyes, too? I wasn’t allowed to wear certain clothes and my self-esteem began to go down the drain and the cut into my personality went deeper. I wanted and longed to be accepted by my so-called family, but my appearance wouldn’t allow it.

In the following years he began to force religion on me hard. Everything I did had to be surrounded by religion in some way. Church was my life and the Bible my only other friend. We stayed in church more days out of the week than any normal family. Church and God were his life so it was going to be ours as well. I enjoyed going to church because it seemed the only place that I wasn’t judged or hurting. I could come there and just relax and be myself. I didn’t have to worry about doing something wrong or getting in trouble. I didn’t have to worry about what I was eating or if I had gained or lost a pound. I didn’t have to worry about hurting. All that mattered was that this was me time and I could share it with my God. I prayed every day that my mom would leave this man that was causing me so much pain. I prayed she would open her eyes and realize I was suffering for her; I was going through hell for her happiness. Was it true happiness? I hoped so. I prayed hard and long and finally my prayers were answered.
I was twelve and had been through a lot emotionally, physically, and I was tired. The best joy came to me when my mother told me we were moving, only me and her this time. I had been forced to grow up beyond my years so I knew what this meant. They were getting a divorce and he was finally going to be out of my life. The man that scared me, hurt me, and verbally abused me for six devastating years was finally going to be gone. I was never happier in my life. I couldn’t contain my emotions which, I had been doing for so long, and the tears poured out of my eyes. All the pain and unhappiness came out with those tears, the joy of what was to come was an emotion present, and finally the joy of having my mother back to only being with me came with those tears.

The years I spent with him were hurtful and cut deep into my personality. The years caused me so much pain and emotional suffering that my mother was blind to see. Do I blame her? No, because she was suffering too, I just didn’t realize it; my young mind wouldn’t allow me to grasp the reality of it. We were both in painful situations and we both have been left with emotional scars and painful memories of him. Although the situation hurt it allowed both of us to grow stronger and closer together. In a way I thank him for being in my life because if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t cherish my mother has much as I do, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. My personality was molded partly by him.

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