As I woke up on the bathroom floor, I realized I must have either hit my head or fainted. Pulling myself up I got to my feet. My head felt wet and throbbing and I could not stand on my left foot. Turning on the bathroom light, my heart jumped at my reflection in the mirror. Aside from looking like a raccoon with my makeup running, my face was swollen like a balloon. I had a black eye and a small gash to the head on the right. Upon further inspection, bruises to legs and arm, one was pretty nasty looking, the size of a saucer. Quietly opening the bathroom door, the house was dark and still except for the snore. I wondered how long I had been in there.
Hobbling in attempt toward the living room, it all came flashing back in vivid heart wrenching. It was supposed to be a surprise. I'd have the tree all decorated by the time he got home from work and he would walk into wonderland. What a joke that was as I looked at the brutalized tree in it's fallen glittery bits, broken all over the carpet. I'd never seen anyone do that before. Just take an eight foot Christmas Tree and use it as a weapon. Pain shot up through my foot as I forgot, not to put weight on it. I likely came out of it pretty good considering, but it was clear I was going to have to go to the doctor this time. Feeling terrified at the thought of having that conversation with him, I began to shake and decided to let him wake on his own.
I sat and cried, not because he hurt me, but because I just didn't understand how he could forget to love me. Was I so starved for any appearance of affection I was willing to take anything to get it? The very thought of this threw my body into convulsing sobs all over again in self loathing.
Coming back to my senses I looked around the living room. Gazing at the fallen tree I thought how very much alike we were in this moment. A beautiful broken disaster. I remembered then my mothers Christmas Trees and then the one I drew on a cardboard for my siblings, after they had left us. They forgot to love us too. How does that happen? How do people just leave or fly into rage if they say they love you? Was it all connected? So many questions came to my mind in an attempt to puzzle it out.
After he woke up, there were the typical apologies that found their way to the conclusion that it was all my fault. I also ended up with a concussion, walked with a cane for six months with a torn ligament and had to wait to go back to work until the eye healed a bit. Adding salt to the wound, I knew he was never going to change, it was up to me to change. It was then I realized I would leave and never come back. I would never allow my children to move into this house. Even if I didn't think I deserved better, they did.
This was a decision I had to continue to make over several years before I realized the choices I had. Requiring me to dial back my threshold for pain. It took even longer to come to the revelation that I could create my own choices. Life didn't just have to happen to me. My life was for me, not against me. No one had ever even said the word "choices" to me until I was well into my thirties. Had I understood this during the years of abuse I had subjected myself to, I would have called the authorities. Safety, security and love is a right to every human being. The choices others make for themselves in behavior or lifestyle is theirs as well. For me it was a long journey to discovery, but I am one of the lucky ones in this regard.
Although I'm battle worn, many others don't come out of these circumstances with their lives, let alone their dignity. Nicole Simpson is a tragic example. It doesn't matter what walk of life a person comes from. Domestic violence, psychological abuse and even worse atrocities happen daily. Even when it bewilders our minds at the how or why of these horrors, it can't and mustn't stop us from creating awareness and putting an end to it. This starts in our own homes and in our own hearts by example in the decisions we make. But there is much more to do beyond the perimeters of ourselves. We can all make an effort to educate and spread the word of hope. Had someone done so for me, I may have been spared many years of torment and neglect.
The lives of others can be spared now with the many more resources and advocates available today. Respect is the key element missing in human exchanges manifesting abusive behavior. If humanity had pure respect for itself, there would be no war or even a reason to put locks on doors. No one person has the answers. The resolve of humanities issues, requires a collective awareness and the will to create like minded consciousness. It can happen like a snowball and gain momentum the more we combine our understanding and unify intention. I've watched prejudice fly out the door in the face of tragedies like 911, where people do come together and unify for a moment in time. I believe it's possible for us to do the same, for the sake of love itself, for humanity forever.
We hurt ourselves when we hurt each other. We love ourselves when we intend the highest good for each other and back it up with loving action.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who believed in "The Golden Rule"; "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" guess what, I still believe.
You are not alone. Call, don't wait: Domestic Abuse Hot-line & Resources:
National Domestic Violence Hotline> http://www.ndvh.org/
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence> http://www.ncadv.org/