No longer afraid
by Carolyn Wyler
She let out a blood-curling scream as the car swerved and then screeched to a sudden stop. “I’m sorry,” she said amidst sobs. “I’m sorry, you’re right, I’m really sorry.” She reached for her abdomen to try to calm the pains she was beginning to feel and the unborn child that had just started to grow. He had asked her to switch to a female OBGYN, but she had liked her male doctor who had delivered her other two children. She had told him she didn’t want to change and he suddenly became volatile and had threatened to drive them both off of a bridge.
He had convinced her that he had never really intended to actually drive off the bridge. It was just that she just did things to provoke his anger. She had agreed. It was her fault.
Later when she went home and began hemorrhaging, she again burst into tears. The loss of this baby was most likely her fault as well. Why was she so stubborn? Why didn’t she just do what he told her to do? He was in fact the man and obviously knew what was best for her.
For a while things were good, in fact, really good. He was extremely attentive to her. He would tell her how wonderful she looked and how much he loved her; he would take her places and buy her lots of things.
When she developed TMJ disorder and could barely open her jaw and mouth, she should have taken that as a sign from her subconscious to keep her damn mouth shut. But inevitably she would not agree with something he had said and before she could stop herself, she would blurt out her disagreement. She didn’t feel the first two children should go by his last name because they had a father who was active in their lives. She massaged the right arm where now only a memory of the pain from the bruise remained. He had gotten angry and started to swing his arms around. She should have known to stay out his way because “her arm ended up in the way of his swinging fist.”
She listened to other wives from abusive relationships talk about how their husband had broken their nose, left their face all black and blue with stitches or locked them out of the house to sleep outside in the cold all night with only their pajamas to keep them warm. She was glad she had a kind and loving husband who wasn’t like theirs. In fact, just the other day he had bought her a brand new piano that she was really excited about; it just hurt her arm a bit to play it at the moment.
She didn’t really want guns in the house, but he said he needed them for his job (though he wasn’t allowed to bring them to his work). He built a locked cabinet for them so that the children couldn’t get at them. She didn’t think they would be a threat.
She was wrong.
She didn’t even remember what ticked him off the last time he got angry but he was furious and threatened to shoot them both. Without thinking she ran outside for safety but then remembered the kids were in the house asleep. He wouldn’t hurt them … or would he? She ran back in to diffuse the situation. She walked into the closet where he was fiddling with the locked gun case and told him again that she was so sorry, it was all her fault and that she loved him. Only this time she didn’t believe a word she was saying. This time, something had finally cracked inside of her. This time she no longer felt like she was the one that was wrong.
The next morning she knew he would feel guilt, be thinking rationally and would agree to do anything for her. She told him she needed the guns out of the house and he needed to go too. Sober and remorseful, he agreed to leave.
The first time waking up in the home without him there, she started to feel like she could finally live her life the way she wanted to. She began to feel safe, happy and eventually no longer felt afraid.