You Can Hurt Me, But You Can’t Scare Me

15 03 2020

A subject I rarely speak on is that as a child I was physically abused, and not just me but Rock _nmy mother as well. Because Ma, as I called her, had special issues and her mother passed away from cancer, she went to live with her aunt and uncle. I’ve spoken often of my Great Aunt Pearl and how she was the shining light in my life. But the man she married might possibly be the most hate-filled individual I have yet to meet in my 66 years. Pearl’s ways of discipline could be tough at times, but were filled with love and understanding. Price, as everyone called him, believed in force and abuse to get his point across. So, Ma had to walk the line or suffer the consequences. He was a big man over 6 feet tall and weighing in around 300 pounds, so if he hit you, you were going to know it. When I came along, I was subject to the same terror. More than once I would be on the receiving end of an open hand slap to the head that would send me tumbling to the floor. And if I cried, I’d get it even worse. Old man Price was also a master in verbal ridicule or as it’s called today, emotional abuse. I seldom had friends over because he would take that moment to say terrible and mean things about me in front of others; then walk away laughing. Speaking of laughing, his seemed to be the only voice that was allowed that privilege. If I laughed at something I found funny, it was a sure bet I was going to pay the price for acting so stupid. As I said this isn’t an easy subject to write on. As my fingers fly across the keyboard typing each word, the memory of those abusive days come to the forefront. So, I have to stop, relax, maybe get up and walk around the room, then get back to it once more. I’m sure that there are many who can relate to my situation. But tonight’s subject isn’t really about childhood abuse. It’s not about forgiving even though I did that years ago and wrote on it. If someone missed it and would like to see a copy, I’d be more than happy to repost. It’s about overcoming fear and the grip it can have on you. And it all started with a coffee mug, thrown like a Nolan Ryan fastball!

It was during the summer of around 1964. We had moved into an old house there in Fremont, Ohio that needed much repair. I was bouncing a ball on the sidewalk that circled the one side of the house to the back, and Price was fixing something on the porch. We had a very large front yard and grass seed had been recently been planted; the tender little green blades had just started to come up. Price, warned me, “Johnny, don’t you set foot on any of that new grass or you’ll kill it.” To remember back those many years on exactly what transpired is difficult; most likely when my ball got away from me and landed in the yard I didn’t think, just stepped onto the grass to retrieve it. All I know then is everything went numb. My vision blurred and I couldn’t walk without staggering. I made it around the to backdoor of the kitchen where Ma and Pearl were. They both screamed; Ma picked me up and Pearl started running water from the kitchen tap. As rotten as an old fart as Price was, I don’t believe he meant to hit me with the hammer he had in his hand. His anger just exploded, and he swung forgetting the tool he was holding. Blood was everywhere from my wound, shirt, pants, floor and sink. Price came in and Ma unloaded on him. Now a little gal not weighing more that 120 pounds was no match for the likes of a man the size of Price, and he beat her to the floor. Jumping to her feet she let go a barrage of insults that as the old saying goes would have made a sailor blush. He came at her again but this time she had wrapped her hand around a thick coffee mug that probably could have been used as a doorstop. She let that projectile fly with pinpoint accuracy striking him in the forehead and dropping the big man like a giant oak. Standing over Price she told him what would happen if he ever laid a hand on her or me again. There’s a lot more to the story, but to shorten it up; the next day Ma and I were walking up the street with suitcases in hand and moving into a 2nd floor apartment until we returned to the house a year later. Again, another story for another time.

But Ma taught me a valuable lesson from that whole episode. “Johnny, we’re going back to live in the house again. I don’t think he’ll ever hurt either of us again, but he’s still hateful. No matter what don’t let me see fear in you. He feeds off of fear and that’s what gives him pleasure.” She was right, from that point on whatever he said to me I no longer cried nor was I afraid of him. I would simply walk out of the room and if he followed me, I’d go outside and head down the street. When I became a teenager, I saw him in a different light. He was big but mostly fat; Price was good at hurting others smaller and weaker than he was, but as he grew older, I saw he wasn’t as big of a threat as I once thought. Granted, had he still grabbed me with those big hands, he could have hurt me. But he could no longer scare me.

Robert H. Schuller, “If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.” Old bubble-butt Price used harm, intimidation, and ridicule not just to force me to do what he said, but I think he feared that one day I might develop into someone who saw myself as worth more than he told me, and he less than he proclaimed. For years I bought into that lie and saw myself as worthless, a loser. But Ma, Pearl, and host of others poured into me a confidence that I could achieve and become more than what I, or Price, was giving me credit for. Of course, a lot of chains of fear fell off when I took Christ as my Savior and learned how important I was to Him.

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

Here’s how the Message tells James 1:5-8, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”

Over my life I have met so many that have been held back in life because of abuse at the hands of another. Don’t believe the lie! You are special. You have a gift or ability that’s fitted to you only. And you are loved. Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When this “Traveler of the Rock Road” looks back on those days, it’s no longer with anger, hate and fear. Its pity for a big man I once knew; someone must might have failed him in his young days, and he bought into the lie. And that’s sad. But there also is Ma, Pearly Mae, and my Lord to lift me up and remind me, there’s no reason to fear. I am important. I am loved. And that my friends, is an awesome memory!

See ya next time.


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One response

22 03 2020
Kimberly Holman

Difficult to share, but appreciated. I feel “my lady” also has a hand in your ability to move on and grow from these experiences.

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