*Litany from Start to Finish

April 13, 2009

I was given the dubious status of becoming a star pupil in my mother’s class while she was in labor with me.  As a consequence, the first statement of the ongoing litany she created for and about me was that I tried to kill her while I was being born.  I was a breach baby, and during our difficult labor something happened to my mother’s mind.  She believed the devil sent me to kill her, and because we both survived my birth, she then believed that I was NOT human, that I was the devil’s child.

Without my mother’s litany, and without the repeated ‘chanting’ of its contents in rhythm with her blows upon my body over the succeeding 18 years of my childhood, I likely would not have remembered anything from my childhood.  She kept the memories present – and I kept my own TRUE version of each experience inside of me because they directly contradicted my mother’s version.

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LITANY

1. A liturgical prayer consisting of a series of petitions recited by a leader alternating with fixed responses by the congregation. 

2. A repetitive or incantatory recital: “the litany of layoffs in recent months by corporate giants” Sylvia Nasar.


[Middle English letanie, from Old French, from Medieval Latin letana, from Late Latin litana, from Late Greek litaneia, from Greek, entreaty, from litaneuein, to entreat, from litanos, entreating, from lit, supplication.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


LITANY

 

Noun

pl -nies

1. Christianity a prayer consisting of a series of invocations, each followed by the same response

2. any tedious recital: a litany of complaints [Late Greek litaneia prayer]

Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006

from:  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/litany

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Considering the reality of my life, had it actually been true for my mother SIMPLY that I tried to kill her while I was being born perhaps things would actually have gone far better for me than they did for the next 18 years and one month I lived under her roof.

But, instead, there was the added irrational fact in my mother’s broken mind that the devil sent me to kill her.  My murderous weapon?  Being a breach baby.  Because we both survived the difficult birthing, what follows was a result of her putting two irrational facts together as she came up with her conclusion:

1.  I had the intention of killing her before I was born during the birthing process by being a breach baby.

2.  That the devil sent me to kill her.

3.  Her conclusion?  Because of these facts and because I survived the birth I was not a human being.  Rather, I was the devil’s child and had been sent “as a curse upon her life.”

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One might say that the litany my mother created for me was a ‘prayer to the dark side’, but I do not believe things were anywhere near that simple.  New phrases of irrational meaning to my mother were added continually for the duration of my childhood.  I will detail these later in my childhood vignettes under Vignettes from My Abusive Childhood.  As the list of my mortal crimes grew and became integrated in The Litany, the frequent beatings of my childhood lengthened accordingly.  Every time she lost herself in beating me and began reciting the litany that contained my crimes, I was beaten anew for every single one of them.

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