My Mother’s Shock Therapy Erased her Memory of my Childhood Abuse

Shock, shŏk, noun: (1) a sudden or violent mental or emotional disturbance

Kathy Parker
Human Parts
Published in
9 min readJun 20, 2023


Photo by Brecht Denil on Unsplash

On a colourless late-August morning, just shy of turning twenty-one, my eldest son places the last of his belongings into his car. From the kitchen window I watch as he takes one final glance back toward the house that carries within it his catalogue of childhood memories. He tucks the length of his legs in behind the wheel and settles in for the ninety minute drive to his new house — indeed, his new life.

Our entire family travel with him; a convoy of five vehicles driving single-file. I imagine, from a bird’s eye perspective, we resemble a line of high-speed ants as we navigate across the B101, together but separate. Green pastures soon give way to city limits and we arrive at his new house at the end of a quaint cul-de-sac that, to my relief, appears akin to something of a retirement village.

It takes most of the day to unload, unpack, and get him settled in. After one final family dinner together we drive him back to his new home. We tell him how proud we are of him, how much we love him and will miss him. There are hugs, tears; more hugs. He thanks us for his childhood. Says how much he will miss us. Stands on his front porch and watches as we walk back to our cars before yelling out one last, ‘Love youse.’ We turn and tell him we love him too and he stands there, both man and boy, both ready and afraid, and there is a tightness in my chest that hurts, oh god how it hurts.

It’s dark as I drive the long stretch home. Headlights illuminate the wayward scattering of raindrops on the highway as white posts flash past in a ghost-like blur. Overhead, high voltage power lines run parallel to the road and I think, as I often do, of those who came before and constructed such things: Power lines. Roads. Rail lines. Jetties. Hiking trails. The painstaking labour involved in forging such great, new things — a labour we take for granted, perhaps nowadays even carry entitlement for.

Unwittingly, my thoughts stray to the day I left home — fifteen, some clothes hurriedly thrown into a backpack. When I recall this time in my life I always think of this passage in Hope Farm by Peggy Frew, the way Silver…