You, yes you the ultra-woman, the corporate honcho who everyone looks up to. Everyone is in awe of you and secretly wish they could step into your 3.5 inch Jimmy Choo heels. I was one among them till I attended that office promotion party which completely shook me and showed me the harsh reality of the dual life you are living.
It made me sad, so sad and I cried in the shower as it brought back memories of my own life. Those unpleasant, painful, scary days of my life who memories I have been fighting to erase. I had locked them up in a closet and buried it deep in the corner of my heart, thinking of it as an unpleasant dream but it resurfaced today.
I could see myself in you. The confident, independent, extrovert girl who knew what she wanted from life. But did he want a wife who was so sure about herself and did not hesitate to put forward her point? I vividly remember how it all began. It wasn’t physical at first, it was more of verbal abuse which started with seemingly harmless comments made like what a bad cook I was- the dal I had prepared wouldn’t even be eaten by the stray dog. Then it was about my housekeeping skills and then something else. One day it happened in front of a few family friends, he kept laughing and there was an akward silence as the others knew it was an insult and not a joke but did not want to intervene.
The day he first struck me will forever remain in my mind as a terrible memory and the regret of not giving back but remaining a silent spectator is something I will never forgive myself for. We had returned home late night after a party and as I was humming a song and undressing he held me by the hand, turned me and before I could fathom what was happening, I felt a stinging pain on my lower lip.
That was the onset of abuse which kept growing day by day. Any small reason and I would be grabbed by the waist and pushed, slapped, my hair pulled. I remember the reaction on everyone’s face when I cut my hair short- “pixie cut” is in vogue I said but the truth was something else.
The verbal abuse snuffed the life and enthusiasm out of me. Slowly like poison it was spreading in my body, making each part incapacitated. It killed my confidence, I started doubting my abilities, I touched the frying pan and my hand shook. I am not capable of cooking an edible meal without ruining it, I said to myself. I had become a mental wreck. A dead soul.
I see a reflection of this dying soul in you and that scares me. It shakes my core.
People may ask- why do you tolerate it? You are educated, working, earn much more than a man what stops you from breaking the shackles and moving on.
They may not get it but I understand what stops you- the feeling that it will cease one day.
One fine day he will realize that he is wrong and it will be like the old times again. The last time he asked for your forgiveness and cried on your shoulder promising that he will not lift his hand on you ever and you looked at him with hopeful eyes and went back to your house. All was good for a few days and then it started again. But you stayed on in the hope that it will stop.
The love that you once shared and which bound you together would last you a lifetime- that’s what you always thought and still believe. How can I leave him and put an end to this love, you hang in there hoping that love will triumph and he will come around.
Din’t your Mom always tell you that marriages are meant to last for eternity? You don’t just break up and leave because of fights or disagreements. As a woman its your duty to adjust, be flexible and make the marriage work.
It saddens me to see how our parents who have our best interest in mind unconsciously ruin our life.
Let me burst your bubble today. Things will not change, the beatings and abuse will continue and get worse. It’s not love, it never was. For that’s not how love is.
Do you look at your little children and wonder how will they face the world coming from a broken home? The stigma of divorce will mar their future. Have you taken a moment to think – would you be raising them right in a family where they witness domestic abuse every other day? Your son will not hesitate hitting his wife one day for this is what Daddy did to Mommy when she was bad and that’s what all men do to women is what he will believe.
And your little princess whom you are raising so painstakingly with all the love and care – don’t be surprised to see bruises on her body one day as she grows up. She won’t retaliate for she saw Mommy cry and that’s what she will do.
I broke the spell and set myself free from the golden cage. I hope you find the courage and strength to liberate yourself. Yes I know that fear and uncertainty that you face and I cannot promise you life will be perfect but I can assure you it will be beautiful like it once was. All it needs is to break the myth of happily ever after that’s stuck in your head since ages.
We all have a happily every after and that doesn’t have to be with a Prince, write your own story sister and see how wonderful it turns out to be.
This post has been written as a part of the Blogathon #ALettertoHer -run by Women’s Web to create awareness about domestic abuse.
I am keen to read author Meena Kandasamy’s latest novel “When I Hit You” which chronicles her abusive marriage. I read her article in TOI and it deeply moved me. I feel in love with the fact that she used her writing as an alchemy to bring to light the hushed up topic of domestic abuse.
(Image courtesy: johnstonhealth.org)