A Burden Too Great   2 comments

Gregory Boyle, a priest who works in gang territories of L.A., tells this poignant story:

I knew an inmate, Lefty, at Folsom State Prison, whose father would, when Lefty was a child, get drunk and beat his mom.  One Saturday night Lefty’s father beat his mother so badly that the next day she had to be led around by his sisters, as if she were blind.  Both eyes were swollen shut.

On Sunday, Lefty’s father and brothers are sitting on the couch, watching a football game.  Lefty calmly goes into his parents’ bedroom, retrieves a gun from his father’s bedstand, and walks out to the living room.  Lefty places himself in front of the television.  His father and brothers push themselves as far back into the couch as possible, horrified.  Lefty points the gun at his father and says, “You are my father, and I love you.  If you ever hit my mother again… I… will… kill you.”

Lefty was nine years old.  He didn’t kill his father, then (or ever).  And yet, part of the spirit dies a little each time it’s asked to carry more than its weight in terror, violence, and betrayal.  (From “Tattoos on the Heart”)

That last sentence is so achingly true.  Every child is forced to handle situations that exceed his or her capabilities, and each such experience incites fear or shame or distress.  I have discovered in my own life that my greatest emotional reactions to situations as an adult invariably spring from the wounds of my boyhood.  Have others found this to be true?


Posted July 26, 2011 by janathangrace in Story

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2 responses to “A Burden Too Great

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  1. There were stages of change, transformation resulting in my being where I am today and, yes, believe reactions to situations today spring from my wounds as a child. In reading your post I realize this is what happened to me; that part of my spirit died when it was asked to carry more than its weight in terror, violence, and betrayal. It took my desire, drive. Also, have a difficult time deciding what I want to do with my life and it’s already 2/3 over (if I live an average lifetime). Why have I always been curious to know where those parts of my spirit went to, why I do not have them anymore, or why have I never been able to retrieve these parts of my spirit back? Although as a result of these horrible experiences, attacks to my spirit, I had at the same time fought tooth and nail in attempt to rise above it all but finally found my efforts were only medicating the issues and only left me tired, anxious, confused, and feeling like a failure. Today, I am not where I want to be and don’t know where I am going, but keep putting one foot in front of the other. In the end I pray I am with God in heaven. Thank God, during the days I experienced abuse, I believed I heard a small voice; some would call it trusting your instincts, intuition, discernment, God which brought with it stages of development that I approached with correct, incorrect actions, responses. Didn’t realize the significance of my choices at the time and broken because there is nothing that can be done to change my choices now. At the time felt cheated and so consumed with the pain of it all tried to deny with distractions, destructive behaviors, and sacrificed some good things because I could not decipher good from bad at the time. Remember this small voice telling me I would not always have to endure the abuse and not to stand up at all at that time as it may cost me everything if I did, or I knew deep inside there would be a confrontation, to say the least. Remember when I no longer had that fear of dying tried to ask for support to the ones who I had believed I could turn to, but received rejection instead; insult to injury, but something, or someone kept me from going off the “edge.” Realized too I am as Lefty, stating to myself, that I don’t believe I would ever kill anyone for any reason, and pray to God I am never put in a situation to kill in self-defense, but know I can stand up for myself today.

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