In Retrospect (Domestic Abuse)

“Please put your shoes on and step into that warm weather.
Go get yourself a more better forever.
Gotta put it down, you gotta leave it,
And don’t ever come back again; You gotta mean it.
Just tear it all apart and build new,
Cause’ if you don’t kill him he’s gonna kill you.
You can’t hold hands when they make fists,
And I ain’t the first to say this but,
Let me be the last to say, please don’t stay.
Let me be the last to say, you won’t be okay.”
-Atmosphere, “The Last To Say”

Him walking out on us was one of the worst days of my life.
“Good luck trying to get a penny out of me.”  His words pierced right through me like a knife.  A clean, deep cut.  All of my respect and love for him instantly reduced to nothingness.  

A product of a machismo household with Neanderthal attitudes towards alcohol and women, he became a part of a vicious generational cycle, and dragged me along on the disturbing merry go round.  I became his punching bag, his means to get out all his hate on the world, on his deceitful parents, and his non-existent sports career.

His drinking was spiraling out of control.  No amount of pleading was helping.  Asking his family to help with an “intervention” was pointless, for they were a mother, father and sister team of enablers, United In Ignorance.  Years of having to deal with his uncontrollable drinking made them immune and complacent and they redirected their frustration on his drinking towards me, verbally, emotionally, and financially abusing me, making me feel like I was the “crazy” one.  “He’s always been like this, he’s not going to change”, his sister, a nursing student, said on one occasion.  He had been arrested for public intoxication and neither his parents or sister seemed to care.  I told his parents the whereabouts of his son, and they didn’t say a word, their eyes fixated on their telenovela.

“Good luck trying to get a penny out of me.”  He laughed drunkenly from the payphone.  “Let’s see if you need money now.”

Earlier that evening he had come to my parents’ home at around 6pm completely obliterated.  My parents were out of the town for the weekend, and at this point in our quasi-relationship, the baby and I were living with my parents to escape his drinking and the emotional poison of his family.  Upon opening the front door, he stumbled inside, the smell of vodka escaping his lips.  He was having difficulty going up the stairs and was staggering all over the place, and, at one point, almost fell over me while I was holding the baby.  Then things took a turn for the worse when he insisted he hold the baby while I “rest”.  I refused, and thus led him to becoming hostile and aggressive, following me around the house, trying to take him from my arms.  I started to panic.  I didn’t know how to make him leave, and it was cold outside; there wasn’t going to be enough time to get us dressed warmly and leave quickly without him following.  After several attempts to get him to lie down so he could “sober up” I pushed him down on the couch and took his wallet and grabbed his bank card.  At this point, I had no idea what my plan of action was, but I knew that if he was to leave the house with his bank card, the funds would dwindle down at the nearest pub.

“You’re such a bitch, you’re nothing but a gold-digger”, he yelled from the couch.

Baby in tow in my left arm, I furiously marched right up to him, blood boiling, my breathing heavy.

I stood right in front of him, my petite frame towering over this drunken coward of a man with that glazed look in his eyes, muttering how much of a gold-digger I was.  I was livid.  I wanted nothing more to tear him apart and push him down a flight of stairs (like he did a year ago when I was pregnant) to give him a taste of his own poison.

With the baby in my left arm, I raised my right hand, and brought it right back, ready to slap my ex in the face.  

Then two things happened.  First, the baby cooed.  Before I could ever hit my ex, the baby made a little noise, which made me look down.  His round, brown eyes looked up at me with urgency and love.  It was as if he was looking up at me, his Mother, saying “Please don’t do it.  Walk away.  Hitting him will only provoke him.  Who will take care of me if he kills you?  He’s been so close many times before.”  And then, a perfectly timed, out of body experience.  I saw myself, this enraged woman holding the most beautiful baby in her arms, about to contribute to this abusive cycle she had unfortunately found herself in.  

Enough.  I fucking had enough.  The cycle ends here with my son, and with me.  I lowered my right hand and I went into survival mode (like I had done so many times before) and I grabbed my cell phone and his debit card and ran downstairs and locked ourselves in my Dad’s office.  Either I moved so swiftly or he was that drunk, but he didn’t even notice me scurrying.   I could hear him upstairs, swishing around like a ravenous bear at a campsite.
  He was yelling for me, calling me names, demanding I come out from where I was hiding.  I could hear him stomping from room to room and pulling books of the shelves. 

And then, he left.  I heard the front door slam, and the only sounds left in the house was my pounding heart beat and and the sound of the baby sleeping.

He then called within that hour.  Words that I will never forget, “Good luck trying to get a penny out of me.”

This was the day my world shifted.  I decided I was going to stop trying to save him.  I was going to be the Heroine of my own story.  I was going to change the ending of this destructible chapter in mine and my son’s life.  I wanted to replace fear and hopelessness to peace and harmony.   

I wanted no more of him.  I got the most beautiful part of him; this sleeping baby in my arms.  The rest, didn’t look so good anymore.

I had had enough.

No more.  No more of his drinking.  No more of his physical abuse, and his scorn.  No more having to hide scars and bruises with heavy makeup.  No more lying and crying.  No more being strangled on the bed with the baby lying within reach.  No more lying to family and friends as to why they can’t come over again.  No more having to deal with his parents and sister enablers.  No more calling him telling him to come home and spend time with me and the baby.  No more having to check our bank account to see how much money was left.  No more of him stumbling in drunk at 4am and trying to grope me and asking for sex.  No more walking on eggshells so I wouldn’t get pushed around.  No more ruined Valentines Day dinners.  No more double paralyzers before the appetizers came to the table during Valentines Day dinner.  No more having Birthdays and Boyz II Men concerts ruined for me.  No more having to spend Sundays with his hangover and lousy and negative attitude.  No more having to find alcohol hidden in an Aritzia shopping bag or behind baby books.  No more, no more, NO MORE.

Him walking out on us was one of the best days of my life.


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