Friday, October 13, 2006

Baseline

There was barely any love left between them... there was barely any of HER left after this marriage of attrition. The drugs, the manipulations and the names that he called her reduced her heart and the amount of space her will took up in soul. By the time he would start in with the beatings there was so very little left it always surprised her that she would fight back. As far as she could determine her defence of her body was no more than an involuntary function, like breathing. She was dying and the final dance began on New Years Eve, the last day of 1996.

He had finished the previous semester right before Christmas, his triumph being the "A" he had received for his final project in Creative Writing. His professor had been deeply impressed by the short story he had written, had touted it as troubling and inspired.

She had read it with it's large, printed "A" at the top and the effusions of the prof on the cover page. She found the story more than "troubling," she was terrified. The story told how he was going to kill her. It detailed why, and the why was the most horrifying of all. Still, she did not leave.

Over Christmas the torture stepped up. Sleep deprivation techniques, kidney punches, black eyes, bruises shaped like fingers around her neck. December 30th he rampaged through the house breaking mirrors and glass, smashed the telephone into shards of plastic. He got out his 22 rifle and shoved it in her face, she watched him silently and cried. She cried for the broken mirror, couldn't understand why he always broke all her nice things. When he put the barrel of the gun in his own mouth she walked out the front door wishing, just wishing that he would.

Pull the trigger.

She slept on a friend's couch and the next morning he found her and took her home. That night was New Year's Eve and she drank the entire bottle of good champagne they had received for Christmas. He loved her when she was drunk, and they rang in the new year peacefully. So peacefully. So much peace.

Seven days passed, seven nights and seven bottles of cheap champagne (he was not made of money dammit) and the peace ended with a fresh assault on her face. A new black eye, split lip and a swelling purple blush on her left cheekbone. To this day she could not tell you why, maybe it was the backhand that did it; woke her up. Later that night, the seventh night, she washed the tears from her face and inspected the damage in the bathroom mirror. It wasn't the worst she'd gotten but there was something cold in her eye as she looked at the wreckage. There was something cold in her heart as she asked her reflection what she was waiting for.

"Are you waiting 'till you get knocked up and have kids for him to beat around? Will you give yourself permission to leave when he starts hitting the baby? Do you want to be tied to this SOB forever? Do you want your babies to be tied to him forever?"

She touches her empty belly, the one that he calls barren and she thanks God for birth control pills. Touches that belly and out loud tells her unborn children that she is sorry, she was wrong... that man in there passed out on the bed is not their father. Will never be their father, and she walks out the door. This time she walks all the way out that door.

The things this woman has learned you cannot imagine, cannot guess at and ought not second guess.

It has been almost ten years and "she" has turned into me. My "barren" womb has been shelter and nourishment for three sweet girls. They are the daughters of Dadguy, my true love... my happily ever after.

Yesterday someone tried to tell me how to "plan my family" or maybe "how not to" as it were. Granted, I was trying to be funny and make light of my temptation to have my next (and last) baby sooner rather than later. My absurd stated reasoning was so that I could just double up on the diapering rather than spread it out over the course of more years. Fine. I don't plan on getting pregs tomorrow just for the convenience of buying diapers in bulk... but what if i DO plan on getting pregnant for other reasons? What of it? What on earth makes you think you have the right to "should" on me, or anybody for that matter?

Please, not even my physician presumes to advise me in this area and I pay him good money to advise me.

It's rampant, this "my way or the highway" thinking. I do it too, but crap all over it! I try not to get in other people's faces with it.

And I recognise that it is wrong. I see that it is one of my more unattractive habits.

A few days ago I noticed that one of the parenting sites that I receive a weekly e-update from had a comment thread that was kicked off with a question that went something like "Do you think that Britney Spears is having her kids too close together?" The HUH? I just had to check and see if anyone was biting, and sweet pickle relish some of the stuff folks felt comfortable saying about this gal and her procreating style. I could only assume these were mostly moms making these comments, it was a parenting site after all... therefore it was double shocking to me. Liberally peppered in the mix were more moderate voices saying things like "well, I wouldn't do it... but it doesn't make it wrong," and "everyone is different." A few folks even picked up on the fact that the woman doesn't have to even make herself a cheese sandwich, scrub a toilet or wash a dish. She has a nanny and can take a shower any time she pleases... she can go on big old dream vacations. Her life? It's nothing like my life. I don't think she does her own grocery shopping let alone ever finds herself schlepping her screaming meemie progeny around the local Super Walmart. Exactly where is the baseline to judge from? Then there were the comments that went along the lines of "I think it's cruel to the children to wait too long in between, how lonely, how SAD!"

... where is the baseline for these kinds of judgement on anyone?

I think I may need a break, so I'm going on an a "retreat" with my church women's group tonight. Who am I kidding... I'd be going even if I didn't "need a break." It's just an overnighter in some cabins up in Heber and I can only assume it'll be cold. Very cold! But it is as Dadguy says... it's a slumber party for moms, and I could really use a slumber party.

14 comments:

sari said...

I'm always amazed at what people feel comfortable telling other people to do with their lives.

I hope you're rejuevenated.

Becky..Absent Minded Housewife said...

As far as Britney goes, I've heard her say it wasn't planned. It happens to the best of us. I reserve the right to question her taste in Kfed.

Are you tired of "When are you going to have a BOY!!!" commments? I get told I need a daughter. I tell them I'm not having any more children. They look at me funny.

elizasmom said...

Jeepers but you make your point well, lady! That was some powerful writing.

For the record, I have been told the diapering thing in all seriousness by someone, who said that it was just emotionally harder to re-enter the diapering phase than to just keep going.

In terms of judgement, I am on the other side in that I am at this point quite fine with one, and I get told all the time that she needs a sibling because only children turn out weird. To which I think but do not say, uh, I know plenty of weirdos with siblings...

Did you watch ER last night? There was a funny/sad-because-it's-true bit in which Abby gets attacked by the self-righteous women in her new mom group for carrying her baby in a Bjorn instead of a sling.

I gues it all goes back to the question of why do we judge instead of supporting? Do we women really have such a hankering for making our lives harder?

OK. I will stop writing this book now.

JD said...

Wow. You are now the queen and I the court jester. Well written and it is gonna make me think all weekend. Damn you are good.

Anonymous said...

the whole procreating thing is such a tricky subject because no one completely knows another person's story. It really is up to the couple and God. That is my opinion. And yes, I wouldn't do what Brittany is doing but I also don't have her life and it's her choice. That's the bottom line ITS HER CHOICE! We all know the limits of ourselves physically and mentally and that is what we need to judge on. Enjoy the retreat! It sounds wonderful! Heber Valley is wonderful we had girls camp there this summer.
Superwoman (As sushiboy calls me, isn't it wonderful he thinks so!:)

Anonymous said...

I am sorry about the past abusive relationship you were in. I have been there and when I got out, it was as much for my daughter's sake as my own.

I have also heard the comments and "suggestions" about family planning. Everything from why didn't I have more kids when Artsy Girl was small to why aren't Spouse Guy and I going to have any kids together (won't we regret it later? they ask). I'm sure my parents were accused of having too many kids.

Family planning/spacing is no one's business but yours and your husbands. Do what makes you happy! You deserve to be happy!!

Mama D said...

I don't think I was breathing through the entire first part of your post. It was amazing. I only wish it weren't a true story, YOUR true story. That's just not right.

We women do seem to be so hard on each other. So judgemental. I hate it. The only time I have strong feelings about people having children is when those children are subjected to neglect or abuse. Otherwise I don't think it's my place to worry.

Nancy said...

What Mama D said. I was absolutely riveted throughout the beginning of the post, thinking it might be an incredibly well-written short story. So sad that it's your story -- but so, so glad that you were able to get out. ((hugs))

I agree with you that people should not judge others' choices like that. Only Britney knows the entirety of her life, so no one else can try to walk in her shoes.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

ok - first thoughts...why the f*@# didn't you CALL me when he was beating you? OK, I know why. you don't do that when some guy has you scared to breathe. But I am mad at him for that. enraged. i wish i could have been there to tell you myself how much he did not deserve to share one molecule of your air. I would have torn you out of that house in a second, had i known.

obviously.

in retrospect, it's wonderful that you got there yourself. it's more empowering than being rescued. i can't tell you how grateful i am that you rescued yourself.

more importantly, you are living the best possible revenge - you have a happy life and you've surrounded yourself with people who love and support you.

revenge is sweet, isn't it?

but yes - i agree with everything everyone has said here. women are meaner to each other than they need be, and nobody has any business judging anybody else's "spacing" decisions. who cares! do you have to raise their kids? No!

i have found that everyone has an opinion on this that reflects what they have done - if they had their kids 1 year apart that's obviously the best way; same for families who have theirs 5 years, etc. isn't that interesting...

i too get the "are you going to have more?" question.

here's how i answer that:

"not today."

momofalltrades said...

*Hug* Hope you have a blast. People don't think before they speak, but I do hate to see Moms who can't get off their high horse long enough to be nice to each other.

Anonymous said...

I'd forgotten that was your story until reading it again. Makes my heart break and my eyes well up with tears. I'm glad you've created your 'happily ever after'.

My response to the 'are you having more?' is, 'nine months from about five minutes ago...' Makes them think twice about asking again hopefully.

The Daring One said...

The more I experience the more I learn that I have no idea what I'm doing, let alone what anyone else should do. We all have reasons for everything we do and the only one who can figure out what's right for you is you.

Mommygoth said...

Mother of pearl, Bon. Every time I read a story like that I can't believe it's ANOTHER story like that. That women have to live through that, so many women. And so many women who don't live through it - who don't make it out like you did.

I'm so glad you found your way home.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was incredible. What a beautiful piece of writing about a completely terrible time. I am so relieved that you "woke up" and rescued yourself.

And yeah, if Brittany's trash because her kids are close together, guess I'm trash too!