Two years ago today I had the worst beating of my life. It actually was not that bad, comparatively. I was sore for a week, the bruises were fading within another week, I am sure. I am lucky that the worst beating I ever got did not entail the fractured skull, the dislocated spine, the crumbling cheekbone, or the marks of whipping that the other women in the shelter had. There is no trace left on me, unless you count a dread of most holidays and a hiccuping mind.
My sin was to receive an advertisement on my cell phone, in the form of a text. During a tired evening, when a loved one suffered an emergency, I hit the call button a few times in my frustration and that number, the number selling an iPad, was called for a few seconds.
A week or so later, when he was checking my phone obsessively, he came across it.
He was grilling me about it, and I was busy, as usual, trying to keep the house cleaned up after the children. I was putting the sheets on the bed, distractedly telling him I had done nothing wrong, I am not buying an iPad, I don’t know what he is talking about, etc. I was not paying close enough attention, I was tired, it was fully dark out, and therefore late. He had taken my car months before and I had to walk up and down the largest paved hill in the known universe to get to the store and back with three tired children under five and a double stroller full of groceries in desert heat. I knew it was all baseless. I never did anything wrong, my life was an open book. I avoided men like the plague. If I had been paying attention, if I had been riveted on his face, and if he could have seen mine, I might have avoided it.
But such was not the case. When he pounced on me, I was not expecting it. Usually you can tense up, get ready for an attack, when you know it is coming. It makes it hurt less, and you can curl up a bit and try to present less vulnerable parts of yourself. I was stretched out, putting the corners on the bed, never an easy task with my premature osteoarthritis. Gripping sheets is painful for me, I hate it. There was nothing fancy, just a pounding on my spine, right where it curves. I was hoping the kidneys would be missed. Most embarrassing was the screaming. I did not mean to scream, I was surprised, I had no time to prepare, and screams just poured out hysterically. I was making the bed, and then I was being beaten. I did not know why, so I was frightened.
You never know if that will be the last time.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers like me. Holidays provide more incidents of domestic violence than non-holidays. I love you, all of you.