His Rage Was My Pain
A Teenage Runaway
While I would never condone or promote running away from a loving home, I felt it was my only option. In fact, just to demonstrate how close to the edge I was and how little I could take, I left 2 months before getting my 1st car. How many teenagers do you know would basically scoff at the idea of a new (well, newish) car?
I remember the night I left like it was yesterday, though it very decidedly was not yesterday. I was so thankful for the bicycle I had because the place I was running away to was about 7 miles away and it required that I travel on a major Texas highway. It would take approximately 40 minutes of bike riding and I decided to go at night. My thought was there'd be less traffic and I could sneak away while everyone was asleep.
The journey was indeed treacherous with the first leg being through a densely wooded area on a back road and the second leg, as I mentioned, being on a major highway. In addition to that, there were 3 bridges to cross that had no shoulder areas. I had to travel in the lane of traffic. In my youthful ignorance, I chose to traverse this leg of the journey riding into oncoming traffic. The idea was that I would be able to see what was coming at me. It ended up being dumb because I almost got run over by a semi on one of the bridges.
Why Did He Have To Hurt Me?
There was a running joke in my house that my dad had a gold medal in being an a-hole. He seemed really proud of it, too. How many times did I scream, "Daddy NO!" to no avail? We always knew when it was coming, too. Daddy would literally bite the side of his own fist before railing on us. What really gets people who know the story is that he wasn't an alcoholic or a druggie. He was just a mean S.O.B.
There was a big curve in the road just before our house and my brother and I would lean out of the bus windows to try to catch a glimpse of the driveway to see if Daddy was home. We knew if he got there before us that he would find something that we forgot to do and my brother, or I, or both of us would get a beating for it.
Mama used to ask me, "Why do you provoke him? It's like you're trying to make him mad." In fact, I wasn't. I was just so nervous all the time with constant questions running through my mind, "Did I do the dishes right?" "Did I wipe down the counters good enough?" "Are the clothes hung up right?"
It didn't matter how large or small the issue was, anything could set Daddy off. The thing that I never could wrap my brain around was the fact that there were kids out there who were getting pregnant in middle school or hiding in the woods to do drugs. The worst problem my parents had was whether I put the silverware in the drain tray upside down or whether Daddy's pants were on the hanger with the leg a little below the waist or whether I spilled something. Small, little, insignificant ... NOTHINGS!
I've been beaten with those black rubber straps that have the hooks on each end (thankfully, he did take the hooks out). I've been hit on the head with a purse so many times that the broken mirror in the purse caused a gash in my head that Mama didn't think she'd ever get to stop bleeding. I've been thrown across the room by my hair because I was unable to get the dryer door closed quickly enough for Daddy to get by me. One instance of abuse really stands out to me.
I was about 6 and my dad hung a sign on my bedroom door that called me "Piss Pot Annie" and he put an electrical cord in my bed. He said, "Now if you piss the bed tonight, you'll get electrocuted and die." This scene repeated itself night after night and the sign hung on my door for what seemed like forever, at least to a 6-year-old.
16 and Done!
There was a moment when I was 13 that I happened to start my period for the first time when my brother and I were outside playing with the kids across the street. One was a boy and one was a girl. I happened to be with the boy as my brother played nearby with the girl. It was innocent play. Both of my parents insisted that I'd started my period because I'd been having sex with the boy. From then forward, I was a slut who needed protection from pregnancy.
I honestly had grown so tired of living in fear and constantly defending myself that I decided, at the age of 16, I was done with all of it. I thought about suicide a number of times. Had even held a knife to my wrist as I did the dishes. Honestly, I'm really glad that I never did commit suicide. There's so much life has to offer that I would've missed out on.
When they said "birth control pills," that was the end of the line for me. As if the constant threat of being sent away to some home in Dallas wasn't enough. I got angry and decided I would not put birth control pills in my body. I used that anger to fuel a passion for my own well being. I discovered that, at the time, the state of Texas considered a girl out on her own at the age of 17 to be an adult.
It was through self-preservation and a strong will, developed over years of being manipulated and abused, that I finally decided to take care of myself.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Marsha Hebert