Physically, the wounds of that day remained for weeks but the psychological impact, the deep impression it left, has always remained and can never be erased. I had already lost respect for Larry, my step father, but this beating bought about something deeper. It changed something within me, and whilst beaten down in one respect, it triggered something, sowed the seeds of survival. There came a realization, that this was how my life was, but I needed to live it and get through it all.
My head was heavy and ached for weeks, my scalp tender to touch and brushing my hair made me wince and yelp. I had bruises everywhere, especially my forearms, that had taken many of the blows intended for my head and body. As it was the start of the summer holidays there wasn’t a need to keep me away from school until the bruising disappeared.
The bruises would eventually fade and the aches and pains would resolve, but I continued to shake inside, always nervous, with an anxiety that simmered within me for many years to come.
I would feel sick at the sight of Larry, but would have to carry out his orders and instructions without question. It became preferable to retreat to the ‘dog room’ and help with grooming the dogs, or to the old back room and tackle a pile of ironing, than have to suffer the sight of him and the wave of nausea that would come over me with it.
Looking back, I can see that with my loss of any respect for Larry, there came something else. I still feared him and had to toe the line, but most of the time, in my head, I had almost disregarded him.
It was still necessary to carry out the numerous tasks and chores, and to suffer the usual physical and verbal punishments, often for little or no reason. However, my overriding memories or this times are of laughter and funny moments, spent with my siblings and, whenever possible, with friends, making the most of every chance to do something I wanted to do.
Even Sylvie’s rages and harsh treatments could often be overshadowed by her hilarious story telling, the mimicking of people, peppering her language with frequent swear words. She would have a saying for everything, commonly known terms, but she would put her own spin on them to apply them to her tales. To this day, I will often smile and chuckle to myself whenever I hear any of these terms, recalling her own unique ways of expressing them.
Larry’s impression on my life has always remained, but thankfully, at that time it was fading, other things were becoming more important, he was increasingly of little consequence, I could suffer whatever he wanted to throw at me.
I just got on with it all and enjoyed the good wherever I could.