Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

May 14, 2010

left handed devils

Like her father and her maternal grandmother - and her son - Gwen was born left handed and it was never a problem until she started elementary school and had the misfortune to fall into the clutches of a religious maniac of a teacher who believed that all left-handers are children of the devil.

"I must have been about five," says Gwen, "and I still remember that awful woman and what she did to me."

"I was the only left-handed child in the class and that old witch singled me out for torture."

"The first thing she did was to force me to write with my right hand."

"She did this - can you imagine it! - by tying my left hand behind my back."

"I couldn't write properly with my right hand - it came out like mirror writing - and despite crying my eyes out she had no mercy on me."

"For punishment - failing to write legibly with my right hand - she would force me to stand in front of the class with my nose pressed up against the chalk board."

"She told the class that I was a child of the devil and I would never go to heaven until I learned how to write properly - with my right hand."

"After a few days of this I didn't want to go back to school," says Gwen, "and my mother had to take me kicking and screaming to school every day - telling me that I should do what the teacher says - that writing with the right hand can't be so difficult."

"My mother is a very religious woman and chose the school for its religious training," explains Gwen, "so I couldn't complain."

"It wasn't until much later on in life that I realized the origins of the 'sinister' aspects of left-handedness," says Gwen, "and I suppose my mother was perfectly aware of this at the time - despite being married to a left-handed man."

"Apparently, left-handedness is a brain wiring phenomenon and it's passed from the father to the daughter and the mother to the son," says Gwen, "but my mother didn't know about the genetics - and probably still doesn't - preferring to cling to her religious beliefs about left-handedness."

"Because it's a brain wiring phenomenon, explains Gwen, "left-handedness cannot be changed easily and can cause severe trauma if tampered with."

"Well, I don't know if my nervousness and inability to speak in public was caused directly by being forced to write with my right hand - or indirectly by being scared out of my wits by that awful teacher - but a trauma did occur when I first started school and remains with me today."

"I remain predominately left handed in everything except writing," explains Gwen.

"And interestingly I now write mirror writing when I try to write with my left hand - which shows that some brain wires did get crossed when I was forced to write with my right hand."

"I know that fear of public speaking is pretty common," says Gwen, "but my fear extends to speaking up in classes, at meetings and even on the telephone. If I can't speak face to face with someone, I get very nervous and feel like fainting."

"This childhood trauma has not affected my personal life at all," say Gwen, "but it sure has had a terrible effect on my working life."

"Despite doing very well in college I've been passed over for promotions and treated like an idiot because of my fear of public speaking."

"I'm home on extended maternity leave now and I'm enjoying being a mother so much that I may decide not to return to work," laughs Gwen.

"And yes, I had a son and I was filled with both fear and joy when his little left hand shot out to greet me on the day he was born."

"Fear, because I wonder if some idiot teacher or mentor will ever try to change his natural handedness - and joy, because being left-handed is a pretty special trait."

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