Abuse is always about abandonment. She knows that now. She knows what it feels like to be left stranded at the heartbreak church. She knows what it feels like to lose precious things. She knows that some things become more precious because they are lost. It all began when she was little and just starting to walk and talk and reach for things. When things were out of her reach, she would just keep trying. Unable to accept the reality of not being able to acquire whatever she was reaching for, she became violent. She screamed. She threw a fit. Silence, isolation, the small spanking, a beating if necessary, that was the way to handle fits. Their punishments seemed to make her more determined. She reached. They became violent. When the hitting would not work they began to take things away. And what better things to take away than the things she loved.
She loves cowboys and Indians. She loves guns. She loves Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. She loves Clint Eastwood, she loves to shoot. She learns to shoot to kill, to shoot straight. These are the things her father and television teach her. She loves horses, The Great Plains, the frontiers. She dreams of riding a black stallion, of becoming an Indian, a renegade. They give her a cowgirl outfit, with only one gun because she is a girl. She has a plaid vest, white cotton blouse, a blue skirt and a holster with one gun. Girls can only wear one gun. She would be happier to be an Indian, a renegade, but she accepts being a cowgirl. It is in the closest that she can come to her true desire.
One night they took it all away. They threw those red boots in the trash. They talked about it as necessary, claiming that her attachment to them was not natural. When they witnessed her heartbreak it made them feel glad. They had won. They had triumphed over that small hand grasping for things it could not reach. They had pulled her out of paradise, away from heaven, and brought her back down to earth.
From Wounds of Passion: A writing life by bell hooks.
Question: What did they take away from you?