It’s an ordinary day. The washing machine is whizzing. The kids are singing and playing as we go through the frantic morning routine of getting ready for school, while the news replays the latest tragedy until I just tune it out. Instead, I begin to focus on all the things I have to do in one day when the usual question comes to mind that most moms dread:
What’s for dinner tonight?
The evening is supposed to be clear and beautiful, a perfect night to throw something on the grill, except I’ve never lit a grill in my life and hate charcoal lighter fluid.
And just like that. From the middle of an ordinary, beautiful autumn day, I’m thrown almost thirty years backwards to the night my oldest daughters’ father tried to kill me.
It’s a night I’ll never forget.
He had been hounding me for my public aid check which I think at that time was $367 for the month to take care of myself and our two daughters, and I’d hid the money saying that I’d paid the light bill. It was really our oldest daughter’s 5th birthday, I think, and I was trying to get her a pair of new shoes from Payless. But the occasion didn’t matter whether bill or birthday. All he wanted was that money to go and get high.
He was a violent person that I’d met as a teenage girl, somebody my friends wanted me to date because he was the neighborhood weed man, and I’d been dubbed “cutest girl in the bunch” which somehow made me ceremoniously donated as the lead person to facilitate all hook ups.
“You cute girl. He’ll give you stuff for free.”
And that’s how our relationship began when I was sixteen years old.
Five years later it would end with me in my subsidized apartment standing in a closet completely drenched in charcoal lighter fluid with him lighting, and then throwing matches at me.
I don’t want to remember that night.
I don’t want to remember that person.
I don’t want to remember my mistakes.
They are so deep and painful and mesmerizing because they force me to look at aspects of myself I wish I never had to see.
How could I be so stupid? And desperate? And gullible? And naive?
Who was I?
Who AM I?
The only way to get out of the hole is to thank God for everything He has done for me, otherwise nothing else makes sense.
And that’s what I do.
I begin to thank God for blowing out each match and not letting me burst into flames.
I thank God for protecting me when I couldn’t protect myself.
I thank God for letting me live through that night, and all the other nights I got beat up, burned with curling irons, beaten so badly that I couldn’t open my eyes, whipped with leather belts, beaten with hangers, choked, spit on, hair yanked out, stitches in my face, and forcefully raped when I didn’t want to have sex.
Memories of domestic violence are hard to forget.
But I celebrate, not me or my life or my accomplishments I’ve had since then. No, I thank a loving God who brought me through it all.
Why I was dealt these cards, or wait, let me rephrase that using my tools from years of therapy to help me heal from my past. Why I would CHOOSE to take the actions I did as a young girl is still a mystery to me. I would like to think that I could have become the person I am today without having to go through all that horror that I did, but I know that isn’t true because those experiences made me who I am today. And so I accept my past and my present.
And I climb out of the hole of the past.
And I think about what to make for dinner.
And I know it’ll be something I make indoors in my kitchen.
In FITNESS and In Health,
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