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.


lisa croker said...

Wow Tammie. Thank you for sharing!
I didn't know you had suffered these things!
Despair is true for so many - Thank God you have found His Hope!

Fetal alcohol syndrome is one we have looked in to regarding our future adoption plans - as many of the babies end up for adoption have this! God love and bless them!

Penny said...

Oh Tammie! I am really touched and moved by the resolution of this piece. Words I wish I'd thought of--the image of broken shards of glass being crafted into a mosaic, reflecting a whole spectrum of Light. The word, "Grace" comes to mind and it encompasses both divinely bestowed Grace and the graciousness emanating from you!

Andrea Thorpe said...

Oh Tammie! My heart hurt as I read this. Thank you for being so transparent. I pray that God will continue to heal you from the scars of abuse.