I read my friend Lisa Samson's book Tiger Lillie tonight, and it was one of those books that affected me on so many levels. I kept crying. I mean, those oh-no-I-must-be-going-through-the-change-of-life crying things every 3o pages or so. She just kept breaking my heart, and piecing it back together with characters real enough to be my best friends, plenty of love, sour cream and paprika, and the color orange.
I sat here after I read, with my heart split in two, once again remembering those painful years of abuse. I never wanted to tell those stories, but when I hurt so, I can't keep them in. Maybe that's why it took me so long before I could seem to get a hold of a copy. Maybe God knew I wasn't ready.
So friends, let me tell you a story or two. Help me to cleanse and heal.
There are two things I'm remembering tonight. One is the day I left him. I was pregnant. New pregnant, about four months along. This was when I trusted my body to have a baby. I'd had one hospital birth, and one home birth, and I felt like I could have a baby with the ease and grace of a gazelle. It was the one thing about me that I felt was wild and uncomplicated, and that he couldn't control.
It was that damned book that set him off. Some awful thing, that made it sound like black women were evil incarnate. The author, if you can call him that, said that black men should abandon us. He himself had an Asain wife. I read that book (he required it), and I remember that I cried when I finished. I didn't understand that kind of unmasked hate. Written by a black man, it rivaled anything the KKK would come up with. He loved it.
By this time, it was near the end, and it didn't take much for him to start slapping me around. I don't even remember what I'd done. It didn't matter. Things had gone so far, that what I did was meaningless. What I was was the problem.
He got mad at me, and slapped me. And I said something. I don't know what now. He slapped me again, and he just kept slapping me, until I told him, with that dead seriousness, and I do mean dead, that if he hit me again, I would kill him. And I meant it.
Of course, he hit me, again.
And I picked up a butcher knife, ready to do what I had to do. I remember standing there calculating this. I cared nothing about going to jail. This is it, I thought. I've got one chance. I'd better make it good, because I don't injure the hell out of him or kill him dead in one stab, he will kill me. I will die today, or he will. That's it.
His hand slammed into my jaw again, and I got ready to kill or be killed, and for some reason, I don't know what, but I looked just briefly away, and I saw my babies, My sweet little boy of 4, and my little baby girl who couldn't even walk yet, and they were quiet with those wide terrified eyes, and I felt so damned tired and I was so very sorry that I threw that knife across the room, and told him I was sorry. I was sorry that I made him hit me. Pregnant me.
He had deadbolts on the door that used a key, and he locked us inside the house. I took 20 dollars or so that I had hidden, and wrapped it in plastic and inserted it in my body like a tampon. I put my social security card and my drivers license in the pocket of my dress. I had on the wine colored, Indonesian batik one, and a pair of thong sandals. I started my life over with that outfit, my two pieces of ID, and money hidden in my most secret place. I was sitting by the door when he got home, and I said, "I'm leaving. He kept the kids as hostages. When I walked away, after he'd frisked me, I heard him telling my babies, the only thing that kept me with him, that I didn't love them and that I was leaving them. I kept walking. I just kept walking.
I walked all over Mt. Ranier. I called the safe house and they didn't have any room for me. I called my family, and they found a way to get me home. Without my babies. I left them to save my life. I left my babies.
I lost the child I carried a week later.
The other story.
It was early in our relationship. My son was 10 months old, and my daugter, was still a twinkle in her mama's eyes. I worked with him. We were vendors. We did everything from set up on the street, to vending at little events on campuses, and festivals and fairs. We sold African stuff. And some Asain artifacts.
We were at George Mason University. I was working with a new guy he was training. I had fasted for 5 days. and I was nursing my son. I was tired, and let's face it, I'm no tiger lady. A young woman found a nice little way to steal from me. The police caught her. I didn't. But that was no colsolation to him. I should have seen, I should have known. He called me everything but 'daughter of God' on the way back to Maryland. He raged the entire night at me. He called all of his friends and told them about me. Finally, I told him I heard every awful thing he had to say five times over and I was going to bed. He said no I'm not.
I said yes I was.
He told me if I didn't sit down and listen to him he would kill our baby. I thought, I know he's crazy, but he wouldn't hurt the baby. I really believed it.
Do you want to know the exact moment that I died inside. It was just after he snatched my son out of my arms, and walked to the second story window, and told me him would drop him out of the window if I didn't sit down.
I didn't sit down.
I didn't sit down.
I didn't sit down until he dangled my son by his feet outside of the window and I FINALLY realized he would drop my child. My first born on his head, and then I sat. I didn't believe him at first. Honest to God I didn't.
And he gave my baby back to me.
AND I STILL DIDN'T LEAVE AFTER THAT.
I'm sorry. Oh, God. I'm sorry, and you know what. I didn't get those years back. I didn't get that moment back. I let my son down so profoundly, and it killed me. It killed me. It killed me.
I'm still waiting for the resurrection.
Please, please, please.