I’ve tossed and turned all night. My headache is killing me. My eyes are sore and burn. I’ve cried and cried, only making myself feel worse. My pillow is wet, and there’s a pile of damp Kleenex on the bed. As I sit up, the room swims a minute, then I lean over and put my head in my hands and cry afresh as despair washes over me. Quietly. I don’t want him to hear me stir….
Then I hear him clear his throat from the living room down the hall, and the adrenaline explodes inside my veins and I begin to tremble. He’s awake. Oh, how I wish he’d go away and leave me alone.
But I hear him cough, and like a bullet I’m out of the bed, into the bathroom and shut the door quietly. I hear him coming and I hold my breath as I sit down on the toilet. Then he’s outside the bathroom door and he says my name. “Tonia”. Anytime he starts a sentence with my name, the raging isn’t far behind.
Again, “Tonia…..I know you’re awake. What are you planning to do? Why are you doing this to us? What’s WRONG with you?!!” With each sentence, he gets louder and louder, angrier, more sanctimonious. “How DARE you do this to us! How g**d*** dare you! Now get your a** out here and get to work! You know we have things to do! You’ve got to decide! You’ve got to decide! Are you going to do the right thing?!”
This goes on and on and on. The moment he says my name I’m facing terror. When he yells the first word, I go to pieces. Once I give in to the tears, it’s full-blown hysteria, out of control, on the edge of madness. I went to bed listening to this, crying about this, and now I haven’t even used the toilet yet and I’m getting it again. And it will never stop. I will never get out of this. It will never, ever end. This is my hell. I deserve this. Why am I still alive?
I slide off the toilet and collapse on the floor on my knees. Facing the corner of the dirty, smelly carpet near the door, listening to him shout, my fingers shoved in my ears like a little child trying to drown out the maddening rant that only pulls me further and further into the abyss of hell, I cry out in my heart, Oh, please God, please! Take me out of this life! I can’t take it anymore! Please, help me God! I don’t want to live like this anymore! Please, please take me out of this life!!!
Any interruption of the tirade is welcome. The phone could ring, something on TV could get his attention, my 9 year old son Robbie could cough or make noise.
Sometimes I pray while I try to drown out his shouts. Sometimes I read – novels, the Bible, or whatever self-help book I try so I can better myself so he won’t hate me so much, and so I won’t be in trouble anymore. Sometimes I count. I breathe heavily and try to concentrate on my breathing. Or I recite poems, or sing praise songs in my mind.
But sometimes, I fight back, stupidly. More often than not. My rage bubbles in me like lava about to overflow and destroy a village. My rage over being trapped here with him belittling me, trashing me, punishing me, abusing me, pulverizing my spirit until there is no “me” left. It is unfair, and that is why I rage. Everything in me fights what he says because it’s unfair, and it’s untrue.
The hypercritical me believes him. I’m guilty enough that I deserve whatever he dishes out. I’m lazy, good for nothing, pathetic, unworthy, repulsive. My negative self-talk that I’ve struggled to overcome takes over. What I don’t realize is that self-talk is sometimes repeating what you hear often from your abuser. And I’ve heard all these things so many times that I believe them. So when he tries to “fix” things and get me to do what he wants, he’ll say “I just want you to be better. You’re a good mother. All I want you to do is do the right thing.” Then in his mind, the entire conversation was trying to encourage me. Not that for two hours he screamed foul criticism and lies at me to demean and hurt me. And if I mention what he says, he calls me a liar, then he will go back thru the tirade all over again, punishing me for my argument and talking back.
I hide in my bathroom. It’s a tiny room, with a tub along one side, a potty, a small table that used to be for towels and things, and a small window. But I almost live in here now. It has a bottle of whiskey I hide here. And sleeping pills, pain pills, headache pills, tranquilizers, decongestant, and anything else I can put my hands on. This is also my medication room, where I self-medicate to survive and cope. I also keep books, puzzles, novels, a Bible, and a journal & pen. Preparation H for my eyes (it shrinks the swelling). Lotion for my face (tears dry your skin out bad). Visene (to hide how much my eyes burn and ache). And air freshener/mouth wash, to cover up what I do here. I live a life of deceit and shame.
Sometimes I think I’ll die here. And I wonder if I do, what people will say about me. What he’ll tell people about me. And I cry again.
Then I hear Robbie calling and I pull myself out of my funk, doctor my eyes, take something for my head, wipe my burning face with lotion, put the eye drops in my pocket, take a deep breath, and walk back out into my bedroom to face my tormentor and begin my day.