Hang Out the Washing

“Don’t air our family’s dirty laundry online!”

“Go put that on your blog!”

“Go write about it!”

All screamed by my mother in a moment of anger after a disagreement, an argument. I have never aired our dirty laundry online and have never wanted to. I’ve aired my irritation on this blog, yes, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned anything that didn’t relate in some way to my spirituality. I would like that to continue, because if it doesn’t relate to my spirituality and practice, it has no place in the the context of this blog. Fortunately for me, the laundry I wish to air has a very large place in my practice, and thus can be exposed to the world.

My parents used to be physically abusive. The abuse never stemmed past spankings, but they were too hard, lasted too long, and were often administered with wooden spoons, belts, wire hangers, and the occasional shoe, as opposed to hands (still used, but infrequently. I imagine this is because spanking someone for that long with your hand stings).*

My parents are emotionally and verbally abusive, often showing a disregard for our emotional well being, and, in my case, a flippant disregard and occasional flat out disrespect of my spiritual beliefs.

They do/did these things, and do not acknowledge that they are/were abusive. Oh, they acknowledge that spanking us like that was ‘wrong’ and ‘didn’t work’, but I do not believe they ever admitted to being abusive, and that angers me. And when I tell them that their behavior was abusive, when I tell them it has an affect on me to this day, and they react to that information by being insulted…Well. I believe this is what they call cold fury.

Because, you see, mommy, daddy, I’ve told my college adviser about your behavior. I told my high school guidance councilor about your behavior, always with the caveat ‘They don’t do it anymore though! I’m just so sensitive.’ and they, too, defined your behavior then and your behavior now as abusive. My sister recognizes it as abusive. One of my grandmas saw it as abusive and called child services, and the other (step daddy’s mother) acknowledged that you ‘took it too far, back then, but they stopped and it’s okay.’ And I think there is something that you both fail to understand:

When the people around you see your behavior as abusive, it is. 

If your child tells you your behavior is abusive and and she’s still afraid you’ll hit her, years after you stopped, then it is.

I am airing your dirty laundry, I am making your behavior public, I am letting the world know what you did and what you do, because dammit, I will make you feel shame. I will have my healing at the cost of your pride, and I will not let your views about me, and your opinions of me, rule the way I live my life.



*If my grandmother and biological father are correct, then they did more than this, but as I have no clear memory of the incidences in question, and my grandmother, at least, has a history of spreading misinformation to me, I will not acknowledge them at this point.


3 thoughts on “Hang Out the Washing

  1. I am so sorry that you have suffered violence against you (be it physical or mental/emotional).

    What you are experiencing is called Abuse Betrayal – your parents who should of cared for you abused the trust you had in them and then when you called them on it were incensed. This is quite traumatic and takes time to heal…so glad you are seeking counselling and highlighting it.

    THANK you for being brave!


    • Thank you for your sympathies. I already (almost) regret posting that. It needed to be said, but perhaps I should have done it in a more private way.

      I find myself very conflicted, because, while I know their behavior is often abusive, they’re even more frequently loving, and they do take care of me. So I guess I’m afraid that I am simply overly sensitive to their behavior now.


  2. “Don’t air your dirty laundry”, I’ve noticed, is something said by people who acknowledge that there is fault with their actions but do not want others to know otherwise they may be forced to acknowledge it openly, correct it, and atone for it.

    Ultimately I view it as an abuse tactic in and of itself, meant to silence the individual it is being said to in order to prevent them from seeking outside help or sympathy because “what happens in private should stay private” (which is, in and of itself, a lie).

    I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this, dear. And as someone who has an abusive mother, I can sympathize. I hope that eventually you are free from their abuse.


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