I already have a tightness in my stomach and my head is starting to swim. I don’t feel eloquent and words are not flowing from me. I feel little, vulnerable, and so desperate. But I need to write about this and force myself to go forward with it because to truly release the hold that trauma and shame have on one’s soul, you must drag it into the light no matter how difficult that is. It must be removed from the rat’s maze in one’s head, doomed to run the same rutted path. Once its out, you can look at it, dissect it, let your loved ones look squarely at your worst fears and help reassure you. Otherwise it stays inside and festers into illness of your body and soul.
Somewhere as a little girl of 5 or 6, I got the idea that men liked having their shoes shined. I’m thinking that during the 40 and 50’s that may have been true when men dressed more formally and wore dress shoes as daily attire. I’m sure it was considered a treat to sit at one of those stations and have someone spiff up their shoes a bit and most people’s houses I knew had a tin of shoe polish and a shining cloth as part of their household items. I must have seen these items lying around or saw a scene in a movie of men having their shoes shined and internalized this thought.
This is where my thinking goes astray.
Why on earth, would I consider myself to be so subordinate and subservient to put myself in a position that I would kneel in an attendant position in front of my father, voluntarily lower myself to an inferior status, is a question that I haven’t completely answered yet. I know that I would practice on shoes that he wasn’t wearing, rubbing vigorously as if on a time schedule, practicing my efficiency. I don’t remembering him ever asking me to shine his shoes, I just wanted to. I’m guessing I thought it would gain me some approval from my ever distant father, the father whose only attention came at night, in secret, in the dark.
I wanted to do anything, including prostitute myself to gain his affection and admiration. This I know for sure, my motivation was his approval. I would wait for him to come home, having rehearsed and practiced my craft and convince him to sit on the upper part of the picnic table while putting his feet on the seating area. It was there that I would kneel in front of him, apply the polish and pop the buffing cloth showing my expertise until he would smile at my skills. Even at those moments when had his approval, I found it still wasn’t enough and proceeded to spend my lifetime trying to fill that leaking sieve of a psyche that would spill its contents as fast as it would come to me.
Adding insult to injury, my family, so very cruel with words, reinforced my shame by reminding me that I was a deplorable, pathetic girl who couldn’t get enough attention. “you are a spoiled rotten child who always has to be the center of attention” echo in my mind. Those types of scenarios set the stage for a lifetime driven to fill the emptiness by doing anything to gain approval from my father and subsequently other men throughout my life. Shining shoes was just the beginning.
My daddy taught me to be comfortable kneeling down in front of him, being servant-like in my approach to him, letting me humiliate myself with so little regard for my dignitiy. Weren’t you the one who should have instilled a sense of myself instead of teaching me to be your dirty little slave child? You had already stripped me of the innocence of my body and now you were closing in my soul. Damn you. I hate you so much right now.
I see that beautiful little girl with her rag and polish, waiting for you to come home so she could endear herself to you by lowering and subordinating herself and all the while you were perfectly, fucking fine with it? How come I can look at her and see her beauty and you can’t?
Thank God for my anger because it is my fury that sets her free. Here’s where she and I rewrite the story. I tell her to get up and I hold her tight, whisking her away to a place where she is honored and cherished and not depersonalized. I set her down in a soft place to heal and teach her ways to find her beauty.
So yeah, I knelt before you, like you were some savior or God to me. I did that. I was a child that didn’t know any better and relied on a monster for a father for some shred of attention..
But that was then and this is today, I’ve long gotten her out of that cesspool of existence.
Kiss my ass and shine your own fucking shoes.