(Warning: this post contains a graphic description of child abuse.)
When I was pregnant with Salamander, and living near the Puget Sound, feh had a couple young guys occasionally paying rent to live in the house adjacent to our home. One of those guys is a jack-of-all trades and artist. One late sunny morning he and I were standing beneath the eighty-foot red pines in the driveway, shooting the breeze, and he told me a story about this guy he knew. The story goes that when the guy was a toddler, his mom lost her shit completely. One day, her son and her existence were too much for her to handle and she reacted by taking the baby to the car and trying to kill him. She slammed his head in the car door, repeatedly. Obviously the unfortunate soul lived, because the story teller knew of her. Her tragic son was moderately disfigured and developmentally challenged, but he did survive. His mother went to prison.
As the story unfolded, so shockingly, I felt the blood draining from my head and at the gruesome climax I began shouting at the story teller to STOP IT GODDAMNIT and to NEVER tell me a story so terrible ever, EVER again. He seemed to feel badly and probably hadn’t meant to upset me. I put my head between my knees and took deep breaths to steady myself. He apologized. Silence hung in the air with his cigarette smoke. I went back inside and he went back to his work.
The slithering disgust I feel in my gut, when this story is told, is a kind of legend. There is real horror in the world. I am not a part of it. How do you remind yourself of your goodness when the internal critic is harsh?