Can We Talk?

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Can We Talk?

Domestic Violence

When you think of “home” you think of a haven from whatever bad stuff is out there.  As a child, home is where you go when you’re hungry, when you’re cold, when you’re frightened, when you’re tired.

Home is where you go to share joy, to find peace and tranquility, to recharge your batteries, to let down your guard and be yourself. 

Or, so it should be.

So, what happens when you don’t have this sanctuary? There is no respite from the harshness, no shelter from the storm, no place to regroup and recoup.

When home becomes a scary place, what does one do?  As a child, you probably don’t have many options.  You go home in the hope that this day there will be peace in the house.

I had such a childhood. 

Over time, I got used to the cramping in my stomach.  I had a stepfather that had a hair-trigger temper, where screaming and barking orders was commonplace.  A mother who was scared of his outbursts, who desperately wanted to keep the marriage together, who turned on her daughter as if their fighting was somehow her fault.

Since we were immigrants, there was no other family where I might have been able to find refuge.  Even if there had been, chances are they would not have wanted to get involved. I never told anyone.  “What goes on within these walls, stays here” was hammered into my head.

My bedroom was next to theirs.  On the occasion where he would hit Mother, I could hear the crashing of a body against something.  Loud thumps.  Muffled cries.  Pleadings.

I’d pull the covers over my head, cry and pray, while inside I felt cold and shivery and so scared.  I so desperately wanted to make them stop.  Once they did, there was this deathly calm followed by days of not talking and stepfather sleeping in the rec-room.  Then the make-up sessions, followed by days of cooing.  It was sickening.

My first marriage was a battlefield as well.  He took his daily frustrations out as soon as he walked through the door at night.  I fought back.  I screamed and yelled and threw things, determined never to be a victim again.  There was, however, no violence – just shouting.  That marriage eventually ended. 

In the years that passed, I created my own sanctuary.  It was so good to close the door behind me and feel at peace.  Nobody crossed my threshold that wasn’t invited.  They were good years.  When I finally met the man I wanted to grow old with, I had a hard time giving up my sanctuary.  I was afraid I would lose that sense of tranquility.

My fears were unfounded.

February 14th, 2008 Posted by | Relationships | no comments