Not Too Late
With a start I awoke, I was sprawled out on the floor of our bedroom. My head was pounding, I glanced at the window, dark. What time is it, its cold and the room has the strongest scent of alcohol. I want to get into my bed so badly and pull the covers over me and sleep for the next 10 years. Oh, how I wish that one of these times would be the last time, one of these times I won’t awake like this afterwards. I just want to sleep forever, why can’t he at least grant me that. I try to get up to go to the warm blankets that are calling to me, and I fall. My body aches as if I just threw myself down a flight of 20 steps. Damn this headache, I put my palm on my forehead to try to ease the pain, but its wet. Funny how you can make out bright red in the darkest of nights. I place my hands on the night stand and pull myself half way up to get a look at the clock. Its 2:45 am. Well just fantastic, I’ll be missing work tomorrow.
By crawling and scooting, somehow I make it to the bathroom. I turn on the light, and this seems to be the worst idea I had all night. Its so bright and stings my eyes. The bathroom is so white and clean, I have to look away. How can so much madness go on in a house that is so average, so normal looking. The mirror has never been my friend, but looking into it on this night made me sick. I was hit with a fist first, then a bottle of some cheap liquor store vodka, once on the ground I vaguely remember some kicks to the face, the proof in my reflection. What I did I can not say, for I never know what it was until the next day when he lets me in on the secret of his anger.
My reflection, I couldn’t stop gazing into those eyes, that face, that soul. It was as if I was feeling sorry for some one else, as if it wasn’t me. The eyes told a story of one tired that didn’t want to go on, the dark circles told of dark nights like this, the eyes told a pitiful story. My mother popped into my head, she had the same look. The thought of her always filled me with loathing. Looking in the polished metal I could see that I was just like her, my blonde sunlit hair, my complexion fair as fair can be with skin all marked up from past encounters, my thin pink lips that knew too many secrets, my summer grass green eyes. The eyes are what made me think about her, like hers my eyes always told on me, I could explain away the cuts, the bruises, the numerous sick days. But my eyes can never corporate with my stories and I’m sure my co-workers know, and that’s worse than what he actually does. To think people guess at this nightmare, talk about it when I’m not around, that’s the most shameful feeling I’ve ever owned. How is it that this has all become normal and I accept it, until this night when I happened to look upon myself as if I was another. Its easy to feel sorrow and disgust when you’re not in the situation but when it is you I guess you don’t really spend much time thinking that way.
My daughter sleeps in the room right before this one, my sweet Tabby I call her. He has never hurt her once, and that in itself is a blessing. She is 8 and she’s not a dumb child. She knows what goes on when she’s sleeping at night, she hears the arguing, the cries and the screams. But children seem to have a grasp of things that they should not know about and shouldn’t talk about early on, without ever being told.
What a pitiful women and mother I was that a man did such things to me, why couldn’t I make him stop? Why did I let him begin? When did I decide it was okay to get my ass beat on a nightly basis, and when did I become weak enough to swallow it.
I suppose that I could say my mother told me that it was okay. I mean she never sat me down and said if a man wants to hit and smack you around you should just welcome it. But, she showed me that it was okay in staying, in letting it go on, in not stopping it.
As a little girl tucked into my little bed with my pink blankets and pink stuffed bear in my average looking room painted white, with pictures of fairies and ballerinas I was tabby. I heard the arguing, I heard the screams, I heard the cries. I heard my mother promising to be good and begging my father to stop. Then I heard him coming upstairs to yank me out of bed, taking me downstairs to where my mother’s face was shoved into the new shaggy tweed carpet, that she had envied for a whole year before she saved up enough money to buy. It must feel better than that ugly threadbare carpet that was there last time, such a strange thought for a child to think but I guess I was thinking that at least she was more comfortable this time.
He started taking off his worn black belt, as he always did during these late night lessons, and beating me with it. I used to look at my mother and plea with her to save me , make him stop, and she just cried and remained motionless, so I learned to take it. I wouldn't cry until I was alone in my room again, where I vowed never to be her, never to marry him. Some things young children come to accept, as terrible as it is, it becomes their way of life. They just accept it because they know no different. Then he would take my face and force me to look at her and tell me how bad she is, how she makes him so mad, and he only beats me so I don’t turn out like her. Then he would carry me back upstairs to my room and tuck me into my warm little bed and kiss my forehead and tell me that he loved me and I would make a better wife than my whore of a mother.
My mother was many things but she was never a whore, she was weak, silent, and submissive, not a whore. Crazy that he beat her up every night and the thing that to this day that makes me mad is that he would call her a whore.
I prided myself on the fact that at least Tabby wasn’t being harmed, but deep down I knew that yes she wasn’t being beat , but she was suffering, she was being harmed.
I considered suicide for a moment, but decided I couldn’t leave Tabby, who would protect her if I was not around for her father to take out his anger on. Would he turn to her then? What if he does turn to her eventually whether I’m here or not. Will I be stronger than my mother, will I be strong enough to save her? Or will I also, cry and do nothing more to stop it. The thought sickened me, I turned away from the mirror and towards the toilet. I couldn’t ignore the nausea anymore. Once I was finished I grabbed a towel and tried to clean up as best as I could. He would be so pissed when he found it tomorrow, he would ask me why in the world I would of thought it necessary to stain up the new white towels. The blood wasn’t finished, it was still pouring down. I was a little worried that it hadn’t stopped. I grabbed another towel and wrapped it around my head as tight as I could to try to at least slow the flow down. I popped a couple pain killers, a necessity to have in my home, and went to find the prince I had married.
I was very quiet, as I did not want any repeats, I had had enough for this night. I found him snoring in the living room on the couch. Such a deep and peaceful sleep, he was enjoying. I found that the alcohol smell was not just limited to a couple rooms, our entire house stunk of it. Bottles and cans littered the entire area surrounding his resting place. I found myself thinking, too bad that alcoholism takes so long to kill a person, but the person who suffers from it can kill a person any day of the week.
It hadn’t always been this way, at first it was just the other women, then it was not coming home for days, then it turned into this. It was never good, it was always bad, but I had known nothing better so I had held on to what I had. When Tabitha came along I was the happiest woman in the world, and he was at first a proud father. All the bad stopped at her birth and we were truly a family, the drinking stopped, the abuse stopped. He loved me, he took us places, we went to parks, to picnics, he changed. It lasted a little over 7 months. Then it was back to the real world, the world in where I could do nothing right and everything made him mad. I was a fool, I had been such a fool.
I went to look in on my Tabby, her perfect little princess room where only happy thoughts could enter.
I knelt at her bedside, and was surprised when she turned towards me. I seen the tears in her eyes, her red puffy little grass green eyes that matched mine so perfectly. She was holding on to her bear so tightly as if she were afraid to let go. She was afraid. I pulled her to me and let all the tears flow, there was nothing I could tell my little girl. I couldn’t tell her it was okay, that everything would get better, that she was safe, that I was safe. So, I just cried and she cried. She was 8 years old, and she knew, she knows what her father does, and she knows that for some reason her mother lets him. How could I make my baby go through what I went through, I hated my mother for being so weak and worthless. Did I want Tabby to feel the same, did I want Tabby to go through the same?
Tabby looked up at me with tears still falling and asked “Mommy, can we please leave, can we live somewhere else, can we leave daddy here”?
I started crying harder but I remained motionless just like my mother.
Why was I here? Why could I not name the reason why I stayed, but I couldn't leave. Was it because of love, no I don't think that I really could love him after all these years. I couldn't blame it on Tabby because I knew that being here wasn't good for her either. I guess like my mother I was afraid. I was afraid to walk alone, to stand tall, afraid I would fail. It was easier to have a safety net, to know your place then to go looking for a new one. I was beat down, cut down, thrown down every day since I was a child that I forgot how to stand. How to get up, I guess you could say from the first beating from my father at the age of 2, that I have been crawling around this earth, I never got back up after that day. I looked at Tabby and knew her fate, I was no fortune teller but I knew what her future held. Maybe I would have had a different life If my mother would of stood up for herself and me, showed me that we were worth more than what a man tells us. We are worth more. I was scared but I didn't want Tabby to have a life full of fear. I loved her and even If I wans't, she was worth more. I must do this thing for her.
I pulled Tabby to my chest and said “Yes, baby. We can, we can, we can”.
I took nothing other than my baby girl and myself, and we left that place, we went away. We drove to the hospital in silence. We both were afraid but we knew we would never go back no matter what happened. We were alive, and we had each other. We would make it , we would be okay.
And, we were okay.
If You Have Been Through Abuse Or Are Suffering From It, Or Would Like To Learn More Check Out The Following:
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