Challenge: Call for Help, I Dare You! (Blog 9)
It has been about a week since I have blogged. I have been going through the process still. I have been remembering and writing and editing. I have not been able to type and post for two reasons; 1) as a single mom of three children, all with different schedules, it is sometimes difficult to find time to have a ‘break-through’ or ‘break-down’, whichever the case may be, and 2) some of the memories have been too painful, too embarrassing, and just too much for me to finish with. But now, even though I have other things to do, I have decided I needed to put those things to the side and deal with this so I can let it go. If there is anyone out there reading, whether you know it or not, you are helping me, because in my mind, I am giving this load, that I have been carrying for more than 15 years, to anyone and everyone out there in the virtual world. And believe it or not, it actually is lightening my load; I don’t feel the weight of all of it. So, since I have pulled up these memories, remembered them, and written them down, they are weighing heavy on my shoulders, I have to put everything else aside to unload this weight.
Again, I want to make it clear, that, while my ex may be Middle Eastern, I am not accusing all Middle Eastern husbands of doing/being the same. I have met some very nice husbands from the Middle East who are devoted to their wives and treat them like queens. I just happened to be unfortunate to choose the wrong one.
This particular memory is when I was living in a Middle Eastern country, and it was only my husband, myself, and my eldest daughter. We were in our flat, it was night time. It must have been late because my daughter and I were dressed for bed. My husband was not, he still had his ‘going-out’ clothes on.
I asked my husband if he was going to change so he would be more comfortable. He looked at me as if I had asked if chickens were falling from the sky. With a ‘how dumb can you be voice’ he snarls, “Why would I change? It is early. I am going out!” I asked him why couldn’t he stay in with us. To which he replied, “You choose to go to bed early, that’s not my problem. If you want to come, get dressed and bring the baby.” It was late, after 10pm, I had work the next day, “You know I have to wake up at 5 and I have to tutor afterwards.” “That’s not my problem.”
No, he was right, it was not his problem. It was not his problem that I had a teaching job. It was not his problem that I had to tutor after school each day to earn extra money to pay for things, such as diapers, for our daughter. He had a good job working for the government as a public prosecutor. He received a good salary. But none of that money went towards me or our daughter. I paid the rent. I paid the utility bills, I paid for the food. Where did his money go? I don’t really know, I asked one time and got slapped so hard that I learned not to ask again. He told me if I wanted something, I would have to buy it myself.
Realizing that I was going to go to bed alone, again, I went to our room. I put my little lovey to sleep. My daughter was the light in my life of darkness. I have always believed God sent her to me to give me a reason to continue to live, a reason to continue to believe. All three of my children came when times were hard, when I felt I had lost all footing. Even my last, 15 months younger than my middle child, was a surprise, or I should say, a blessing.
But back to the memory…
After I had put my little lovey to sleep, I went back out into the living room. I knew he was still there because he had not come to ‘clean up’ before going out. He was reading a text or writing a text. I walk over to him, planning to convince him to stay in for the night. He is sitting in the chair, I bend down, put my knees on the ground and rest my forearms on the arm of the chair.
I have already prepared my speech in my mind. I open my mouth to ask him to stay so I don’t have to sleep alone. I say his name. That is all I say. Suddenly my I am lying on the ground and I see little black stars everywhere. I think, if I can catch one, maybe I can make a wish on it and he’ll be nicer to me. No, I didn’t even think to wish to be out of the situation.
He had knocked me across the face, before, it had always been with his open hand, but this time, it was his fist. He hit me so hard I feel to my side. I was dazed and must have laid there for a moment. Then he kicks me while he is still sitting in the chair and starts repeatedly saying my name. I guess he must have thought he knocked me out.
I sit up and the only word I whisper is “Why?” He sits up in the chair and leans over, his face so close to mine I feel the spit as he speaks, “You have no right to see my phone! It’s not your business! Me, I have a right to see your phone! But my phone is mine!” I don’t know what caused me to defy him, or, well, defy is not the word, maybe ‘push his buttons’ is a more accurate description. Maybe it was the blow to the head, but push his buttons I did!
Like a wild coyote grabbing for a bone, I snarled, “What, one of your whores causing your trouble? Ha!” Again, for the second time in less than 5 minutes he knocked me across the face, this time using his left hand (I guess he was afraid he’d knock me unconscious if he hit me in the same place twice). Nevertheless, I went down again.
But I didn’t stay down, no! I scrambled across the white, ceramic tile to the kitchen island. I knew a frying pan was sitting by the sink, just waiting for me. I reached up with my hands to grab the counter top and pulled myself up. My legs were unsteady, but my objective propelled me forwards. The whole time he was sitting in his chair, laughing at me.
I finally stood up and reached across the island. I grabbed the handle of the frying pan. I turned towards him, wielding my weapon, my frying pan. He laughs even harder, “What do you think you are going to do? Just want do you think you are going to do?!”
I hold my frying pan up to the side of my face, “You are a coward! You hit me, I will hit you!” I don’t think he really believed I was going to do it until I was practically on top of him while he was sitting on the couch. I swung my arm back and then forward, hitting him on the shoulder with the frying pan. My body shook with the force of the hit. I had aimed for his face as he had hit mine, but he was quicker and was beginning to stand as the pan swung down on him.
That was the only chance I had to hit him. He grabbed my right wrist and squeezed it so hard that I had to drop the frying pan. I remember looking down at it as it was still clattering thinking, ‘that’s only good for cooking, and I can’t even do that!’
He twisted my arm and spun me around and threw me onto the coffee table, why did I buy a glass coffee table, it breaks too easily, should have bought a wooden one. These were thoughts that were going through my mind. He begins kicking me on the back of my thighs, yelling at me, but I’m not listening.
Grabbing my arm again, he drags me to the wall and keeps pushing me against it. I remember thinking, ‘Now I know what the devil looks like.’ I don’t know how long that went on, but long enough that I beg him to just end it, just finish it. And he laughs at me, “No, that would be too easy for you!”
Throwing me across the room, I am near the bedroom door. I run in, lock the door and get my phone, “I’m calling the police!” I hear him laugh, “Go ahead!” Shaking, I dial the number for the police and tell them to please come. I give them my address and they say someone is on their way.
Emboldened by my act, I venture to open the bedroom door. I find him by the window, smoking. “I called the police.” “And?” “They’re sending someone.” He throws his cigarette out the window and goes to sit down in his chair, “Then I will wait.”
I go back into the room and wait for the police. It seems like it took forever, but probably only like 30 minutes at the most. The doorbell rings. I hear him answer the door and another man speak. They are speaking in Arabic. I come out of the room and walk slowly into the living room.
The police officer asks me what happened. He took my statement. He then asks my husband what happened. I ask the officer to make him speak in English so I can be sure he is telling the truth. The officer asks him if that’s okay and he obliges. He tells the officer exactly what happened, he told the truth. Then the officer asks him something in Arabic, and he responds, in Arabic (when people ask me why I learned to speak Arabic, it honestly was a matter of life or death).
Then, the officer looks at me. He comes close to me, I can smell his aftershave. After hearing what I had to say, and what my husband had to say, the officer looks me in the eye and says, “Well, normally we would take you in to the police station, but this time we will let it pass.”
I am shocked, it’s like the wind was knocked out of me once again, “What?! Why would you take ME to the police station? He hit me!” As though he were speaking to a dimwit, he replies, “You hit him, for that, you should go to jail. But, since you are American, we are going to overlook it this time. But if it happens again, you will go to jail.”
The room grew dim and I couldn’t hear anything. My head hurt with the absurdity of it all. What just happened? I called the police to help me! I walk into the bedroom as my husband is escorting the policeman to the front door to see him out.
I see my face in the bathroom mirror, there are bruises on both sides. At some point, my lip had been cut. My eyes look vacant. I don’t know if I have enough make-up to cover this up when I go to school tomorrow.
“Call the police any time you want, they won’t help you, no one will!” With that, the lights in the bathroom are shut off and he closes and locks the bathroom door. I don’t know how long he’ll make me stay in here tonight, I just hope he lets me out before he goes out. If I am locked in here and he leaves, I won’t be able to get to my daughter if she needs me.
That is when I knew that I would not find help there. But it is a lie if I blame them, because every winter vacation and every summer vacation I returned home. I didn’t have to go back, I could have just stayed with my parents. I could have told them and they would have not let me return to him. But I didn’t. I didn’t. I told no one of my home life. I told no one of the abuse. Why didn’t I? Why did I stay? It’s that ‘Why’ that is torturing me!