Challenge: The Tooth of the Matter Is (Blog 11)
So, I was pregnant with one of my three children. Still living overseas. Nothing had changed in our relationship; he hadn’t had an epiphany that he should change, nor did I have an epiphany that I should leave. It was life as usual in our household. Except that I was pregnant. You would have thought this would have made him nicer to me, it didn’t. You would have thought this would have made him help me more around the home, it didn’t. You would have thought it would have brought me to my senses, it didn’t.
I went about my life, he went about his, with the normal fussing, fighting , and occasional slap in between. I tried really hard to stay out of his way and keep our daughter clear; I didn’t want to give him any reason to get upset. I was actually surprised when he agreed to go baby clothes shopping with me; he might actually do one of his fatherly duties!
When I lived over there, Thursday and Friday were the weekend days. We had agreed that we would go shopping on Thursday because the Friday crowd would be too much for me and my ever-growing belly to handle. I am excited because this is the first time he’s shown interest in a long time for doing something together as a family.
Wednesday night he took my car (well, I paid for it, he drove it), as usual and went out to ‘meet his friends.’ One o’clock, two o’clock, four o’clock, he didn’t show. I stayed up all night, and into the morning waiting for him to come home. He never did.
At about 8 in the morning, I strapped my daughter into her stroller and went walking, walking with a purpose. I would like to think that I didn’t know where I was heading, but I did. Somehow, instinctively, I knew. I walked almost two miles and there it sat, my car. Yes, my car, it was my plate number.
I wish I could say I smashed the windows in, I didn’t. I wish I could say I drew all over it, I didn’t. I wish I could say I waited by the car to confront him, I didn’t. What I did do was turn around with the stroller and head home, trying to keep the tears from falling because I didn’t anyone to see me crying and feel sorry for the ‘poor American.’
Entering the flat, I took my daughter out of the stroller and she played in the ball pen, me, I lied on my bed and cried. I called him, no answer, I texted, no answer. Why did I think he would, he was with ‘her,’ whoever ‘her’ happened to be at the moment. My heart was broken, why then? I don’t know, it should have been broken many times before. Why did I care who he was with? At least he wasn’t with me, beating me, he could hurt her, at least he would leave me alone.
Then I got angry. Screw him! If he’s not going to go shopping for clothes for his unborn child, I’ll do it myself, and my daughter will help me. We went down to the doorman to get the key to my husband’s car. Mine was new, his had no air-condition, and we were in the Middle East, but what would he care if his pregnant wife and daughter have to ride in the heat?
We spent at least two to three hours shopping, the stores were close so it didn’t take long to get home. Armed with bags of clothes for the baby that was coming, my daughter and I headed up the elevator. I wanted to get the clothes put away before he got home, he always wanted to know how much I spent on things, even though it was my money.
As we enter our flat, there he is, sitting in his chair. “Salam Alaikum.” He says nothing in reply to my greeting, just stares at the television that is on mute. I carry my bags to the bedroom to put them away, I can already feel the tension building.
He calls our daughter to him, she obeys and goes. He picks her up and puts her on his lap. He looks at me and smiles, “This is my daughter, she will do what I say.” My heart drops because I have no idea where he is going with this. “Did you have a good time with Momma?” She nods her head, yes. “Good, now, I want you to go and play in your room and don’t come out until I tell you to. Understand?” “Yes, Baba,” and she runs ahead of me to the bedroom. He turns his gaze to me, “And as for you, go put the things away and come back, and bring the receipts.” “But I paid for it all with my money.” Raising his voice, “I said to bring me the receipts!”
Of course I do what he says, what else can I do? I come back to the living room, shutting the bedroom door, I don’t want my daughter to hear whatever is going to happen next. He takes the receipts from my hand, “You spent this much?!” “It’s my own money.” “Don’t talk about your money, your money is my money!” “No, according to Islam, it is not.”
Enraged, he rushes at me, grabbing my shoulders and shaking me, “Don’t talk to me about Islam! You cannot talk to me about Islam!! I have my rights as your husband!” Quietly I answer, “And I have my rights as your wife, I am not illiterate, I can read.” He releases one hand from my shoulder and uses that to slap me hard across the left side of my face. “You can’t hit me! I’m tired of it! Go hit the whore you were with last night!!”
That was the wrong thing to say, this time when he hits me, he doesn’t use his open hand, he hits me with his fist. He hits my left cheek hard enough to knock my top-left bridge out. “Don’t talk about what I do! It’s my business, not yours!”
I’m vaguely aware of my daughter crying in the bedroom, “Mommy’s okay, honey, play with your toys.” At least, I think that’s how it sounded, but I was too busy searching for my bridge that he had knocked out to know. I’m on my knees, searching, when he lifts me up and throws me on the couch, “I am the man! You cannot tell me anything!” And he proceeds to show me what a man he is.
He leaves me, crying on the couch, bleeding from my mouth and other places. I don’t know if I passed out or not, but the next thing I remember is my daughter stroking my forehead and singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’ I must have fallen asleep because when she sees my eyes open she says, “I have a surprise for you, Mommy, I found your teeth. The Tooth fairy is going to give you money for four teeth.” She had found my bridge.
Remembering this, reading this, I am so angry with myself. How could I let my daughter go through that? If I couldn’t leave for myself, why couldn’t I leave for her? What have I done to her? What types of relationships will she have in the future? Will she accept abuse because I did?