Skip to main content
Updated date:

Humpty Dumpty Couldn't Be Put Together Again

Having a master's degree in psychology and working as a consultant in schools, Lora likes to share her knowledge to enhance others' lives.


The Life Long Sentence of Emotional Abuse

This poem is about emotional abuse and the long lasting damages it can have on a child's life all the way through adulthood and even beyond. I have a friend who was the victim of emotional abuse for many years. Her father was very critical of her and and would consistently say derogatory things to her even though she was a good student and never transgressed the many rules that he devised for her and her sisters throughout their childhood and adolescence. She couldn’t please him no matter what she did. His very authoritarian treatment of his children led to the creation of this poem. Instead of being a father, he acted more like a king and his children were his subjects. Unfortunately, his wife became an accomplice as she would go along with his boorishness and brutality, even if it meant sacrificing some of her children’s emotional well-being.

Unfortunately, my friend, always struggled with her identity, trying to find who she was and where she belonged. She expressed that she always felt fragmented and that she couldn’t really find her path in life. She felt like she was drifting throughout her life- like a boat in a sea that had no direction but just floated wherever the waves took her.

Sadly, all of his children suffered in one way or another. Several identified with his aggressive style and became bullies to two of the other sisters, and none of the sisters could ever form strong emotional bonds with one another, preventing them from giving each other the emotional support that they all needed, especially my friend who felt so broken inside.

Children do better in families where parents aren’t so authoritarian in the way that they interact with them. Setting rules for children’s behavior is essential but acting like a dictator and insisting that the child has no rights other than carrying out the parents’ wishes and being very critical of them can lead to children who become very insecure about themselves and develop emotional problems. Raising our children in this manner, is contrary to what we all need on a basic level and that is- a certain amount of personal freedom. Perhaps this is why children raised in such a rigid environment develop psychological and behavioral problems and are always plagued with feelings of inadequacy and crippling self-doubt.

All of the children raised in this authoritarian household became shadows of what they could have been as children need discipline, applied correctly, but not humiliation and ridicule, nor punishment for not living up to a parent’s perfectionist standards. Children can never achieve their full potential and i.e. have their psychological growth stunted in such an environment; just as people thrive in a democracy where we have freedom and certain rights as individuals rather than one ruled by an authoritarian government at the expense of personal freedom.


Humpty Dumpty Couldn't Be Put Together Again

Once there was a kingdom with its king,

so high was he.

He reigned forty years-

give or take three.

He had five daughters

and a queen you see.

The daughters were the subjects,

and the demands he exacted

were great to be.

Oh, he ruled with an iron fist,

and the queen she joined him,

steadfast, in every wish

as he bullied and prodded

with his vainglory quest,

but she would not deny him

not one single request.

But there was one daughter

who questioned his iron rule,

and he went after her feelings of self-worth.

The queen, she acted like a simple fool,

repeating his insults of abuse

from his place of kingly throne,

all the while, him gloating

in his deprecating mirth.

Oh, how he would go on about her,

not ever amounting to anything,

while the other daughters were mute...

the dog cowered in fear

as he had been kicked often by this king

who by his queen was thought to be so dear.

And he would rant on and on

at his daughter who wouldn't

make his dreams come true,

and he would slay her inside;

just as his imaginary enemies

must be taught to serve this king,

in total submission-

such penalties, he thought,

were deservedly due.

His queen, unquestioningly,

shared this view.

And one day, the daughter

left to make her path outside the palace.

But she felt like a puzzle

with a missing piece,

and she couldn't its whereabouts retrace-

somehow, it had been irretrievably misplaced.

The queen could never offer her

any consolable words;

for the king, he was imperial and divine.

And for the rest of her life,

she felt so utterly disgraced.

Her existence was somehow effaced.

Yes this daughter, a princess no less,

tried and tried to find her way,

and one day, she split into many pieces some say.

Somehow the pieces just wouldn't fit,

try hard as she may.

She saw her mother standing in the nursery;

over her bed, she smiled

and shrugged her shoulders,

so dismissively.

As her daughter’s crib gently swayed,

she could hear her say...

"Yes all the king's horses and all the king's men

couldn't put Humpty together again.”

-Lora Hollings

© 2020 Lora Hollings


Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on October 26, 2020:

What a heartbreaking story it's unbelievable cause parents should be the first shield and Knight for their childrens.

The king might suffer facing his demons but it's not reasonable

To cursed his own blood. So as in reality not even our annoying neighbors ;-)

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 26, 2020:

This is a sad reality. Thanks for sharing your friend's story. The angry domination by her father created a deep sense of personal shame that should not have been hers. She didn't deserve this treatment but instead deserved unconditional love and acceptance.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 25, 2020:

So sad, Lora! So sad!

Any type of abuse is heartbreaking, and I suspect there is an epidemic of it in this country. And as the governments cut back on social services, and as the social distancing demands more and more isolation, my fear is abuse will go unchecked for quite some time.

And that makes me profoundly sad.

Difficult topic, my friend, but one which must be written about, so thank you!

Be well!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 25, 2020:

This is a heartbreaking story that we hear all to often. I feel so sad for your friend. The poem spells out the pain of growing up in that environment. The horrible father and his wife too did so much damge to all of the sisters in one way or another. You really spelled our this situation very well, Lora.

Lorna Lamon on October 25, 2020:

This type of abusive control has such far-reaching consequences. The father appears to have a narcissistic personality and regardless of what the children try to do to please him, sadly, it will never be enough. In the poem you refer to to the missing piece of a puzzle which is a perfect description of how they must feel.

There are so many layers to this poem Lora, and it highlights just how destructive this type of person can have on those family members who deserve so much more. A powerful and unforgettable write.

Rosina S Khan on October 25, 2020:

Yes, your article, along with your poem, teaches us a very important lesson that we should never try to overmanipulate and dominate those less than us, especially our own family. Because they are then retarded in their paths of life in so many ways that they have difficulty finding themselves again. Thanks for sharing this educational article, Lora.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 25, 2020:

This is so sad Lora, so many people suffer mental abuse at the hands of dictatorial parents, and often it goes unseen by the outside world. Thank you for sharing your friend’s story.

Related Articles