Hero Child

Biography Barbara Rogers
Foreword: A Hero Child
Chapter 1
Table of Contents
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sunday school

I survived my childhood through a complete state of forgiveness
I was blamed—and blamed myself
for the abuse and any problem that occurred

as a young child in Sunday school
surrounded by the impressive church building
filled with reverence and grandiose solemnity
I felt small, unimportant, invisible, deeply intimidated

religious commands, reprimands, expectations were passed out
and became a scary brew of passed-on morality
that demanded “be good”—which meant above all
not to speak up
but to always be forgiving
and to silence
my pain and protest when I was wronged and hurt

church morality reinforced what I experienced at home
this powerful moralistic brew demanded a forgiving attitude
of the dependent, the defenseless and the powerless
while it declared the powerful infallible

to be a good person meant I should not utter my truth
should not be angry or protest
never contradict or ask the “wrong” questions

I did not even dare to think that my mother
was a frightening example of a non-forgiving person

my parents’ beliefs and what I learned in Sunday school
imprinted me with constant messages to overlook abuse
to forgive perpetrators who commit abuse
and to ignore and invalidate their crimes as benefactions
this strange morality gave no permission to say no
to stand up for myself and speak up to abusive people
to stop their cruel actions

programmed to be a victim, I believed
that no matter what happened to me—I deserved it
should endure it without protest and forgive it with an open heart
—but never ask to be treated with humanity and respect

thus I learned to accept cruelty as immutable reality

I was sold a concept of “love” that gave powerful parents the right
to hold grudges, to commit any kind of arbitrary cruelty
be unforgiving and communicate verbally or physically their anger
it endorsed punitive actions that spoke of hatred and revenge

parents were not responsible for their actions
or for the unhappiness, pain, fear or confusion they caused
it was the child who was blamed
expected to endure, obey and be silent

the morality at home and in Sunday school reinforced
submission to every parental whim
forced the child’s screams and outrage
—forbidden as revengeful—
deeper and deeper into silence

it did not encourage me to express to anyone what I saw and felt
it did not empower me to articulate what I realized and thought
it did not allow me to voice how terrified and lonely I was
it forbade me to share with anyone how I suffered in agony

the child was trained
that only forgiving one’s enemy brought peace
—but the one person in this world whom she
experienced as her enemy
was her own mother

© Barbara Rogers

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Screams from Childhood