Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I sat in a conference session in November. The nurse was giving an overview of parenting classes that she teaches.  She covered fetal alcohol syndrome.  And she started a section on shaken infant syndrome.  My gut contracted.  I wanted to retch.  I wanted to leave.  I wanted to leave so I could retch.  But I sat calmly and listened to her presentation.  She explained that when the infant or small child is shaken, his brain actually turns to a kind of jelly.

I know that jelly-brain feeling. 

I was shaken as a small child.  More than once, but I can't say how many times.  I know that the struggle to function, to survive, was so strong and afterward I would strive to focus, to respond to my environment. 

I know that if I was threatened to "stop or I'll shake you until your head rattles", my response was immediately docile based on painful experience.  

I don't know how many times that my siblings and I had our "heads knocked together", a bizarre form of punishment that involved grabbing two children by the hair on their heads and slamming their heads together.  But I know that when my child and her cousin were threatened with the same treatment, they were defended.  By me.

I know what it feels like to be tween-aged and have one's hair snatched and one's head slammed against the wall. 

I know what a lot of different kinds of physical, mental, and emotional abuse feel like.  I know despair.

But I also know hope.  And I know what healing feels like.  And I know the terror that the broken shards of my shattered inner person will cut and harm the people I love; however, I also that those shards need not damage anyone--not even me.  They can be made into a beautiful mosaic, catching and refracting light to everyone around me. 

I can't pretend I'm not broken.  But I am confident that brokenness has been transformed into beauty.