(dedicated to all sons of bitches)
I’m not sure how I should celebrate Mother’s Day. All her sisters’ eldest sons took their own lives in their 20′s because of all the guilt they had been force-fed. I was almost soul-murdered by my parents myself – like a lot of working class kids, I had a lot of my self esteem and ability to feel joy sucked out of me by a combination of neglect and verbal abuse.
Both physical and psychological abuse can have the same effects on self-esteem, but they manifest themselves in different ways and usually come from different genders. This is partially because men tend to be physically stronger, while psychological violence is the weapon of choice of the fair sex – perhaps due to the primary role of the female in socializing offspring. Emotional violence can be used for wicked and spiteful ends just like physical violence can.
Many years after leaving my childhood home, while suffering the post-traumatic trauma of it, I read that music can be used to reprogram a damaged mind because it operates on a different part of the mind than speech. Perhaps all that pop pastry from Sweden I listened to religiously was a form of medicine, and not just entertainment. Maybe the soothing female voices of Agnetha and Frida helped to reconfigure my pain-filled soul.
Below, I’ve provided a helpful Abba antidote list for some of the soul-destroying words of my parents.
To help explain the intensity of each weapon in their arsenal, I provide an estimate of how many times these barbs were deployed on me in my lifetime. I calculated this by estimating the number of occurrences per week, and then multiplying this by 52 weeks x 18 years – the duration that I endured them. If you would prefer a weekly estimate, just divide the total amounts by 936.
My family were practicing Catholics. So calling someone “antichrister” on a regular basis was really full-strength hate speech in my house. Was there anything worse you could be than the killer of Jesus’ beautiful message? The subtext of this was: “Fear God, and fear me, you miserable piece of End-time garbage.”
Antidote: I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
(1500 – 2000 listenings)
Like the word antichrister, this song’s title makes a vague reference to organized religion. The reason it works is because the Abba antidote confirms that there is love inside the listener’s heart, in the same way that the hate speech denies that any love is even possible there.
“You hateful little slut(s)!”
This one had a double-edge because it introduced sexuality – a corrupting strategy as well as an abusive one – to children who felt instantly dirty and sinful. Unlike antichrister, this one can be effectively deployed to damage individuals or groups. And corrupting children can cause damage long after the verbal abuse has ceased. This one is a cluster bomb of verbal hatred; it can explode again many years later.
Antidote: Gonna Sing You My Love Song
(2000 – 3000 listenings)
This song’s lyrics are about curing the damage caused by an abusive or absent lover. “Still I see that she makes you blue…” It works well for curing the damage of abusive parenting too, so this song may have actually saved my life by reprogramming my inner voice.
Knowing my parents used to kill live chickens with their bare hands, threw objects when angry and weren’t afraid to bruise, these words carried some weight. A permanent threat of physical violence is sometimes more effective than actual violence in destroying self esteem and social confidence, so this was actually one of the most difficult hate-bombs to diffuse.
(4000 listenings or until self esteem reappears)
I always hoped I’d be able to one day cry out for help, but that day never came until I was long gone from my family home, and the scars were there to stay. Working class males are made to feel inadequate for not being strong (like Superman or a robot), and this gives abusive parents impunity with their sons. In the meantime, this song was like a silent cry for help – muffled by headphones in a bungalow in suburbia where no one can hear you scream.
Of course, you might wanna listen to a more recent pop band if you’re currently being psychologically tortured by a close family member. Abba may have worked for me, but styles change, and so do the vocabularies of abuse and the songs that are made available to help mediate it.
And let me add that the ultimate antidote for self-esteem loss was to simply stop talking to the source altogether, either on the phone or in person. Although I sometimes feel bad about having abandoned my family, I also realize that in my situation – where the abusive attitude continued in the absence of any remorse – this was the probably the most prudent thing to do. Here again, I have to deflect to the wisdom of Abba in explaining why the Steel City Fruit doesn’t speak to his Steel City parents anymore. Mega-Antidote: Bang A Boomerang
(Note. Any resemblance to real human beings is unintentional. This story – like other Steel City Fruit stories – is purely fictional.)
Tags: Abba, antidotes, coping strategies, corrupting, hate speech, male submission, masculinism?, maternal abuse, maternal impunity, Mother's Day, music therapy, psychological abuse, soul murder, soundtracks, the curse box, the fair sex, the inner voice