Even now, one of the things that infuriates me most is that Bob won't own up to what he did. But then, expecting your abuser to label what he did as abuse is ridiculous. Of course he thinks it was okay. Of course he'll avoid the question with come-backs meant to push the blame back on you, "if it was so bad, why'd you stick around? why'd you always take me back?"
Sometimes I even forget just how bad it got. I was talking with a co-worker today about domestic violence and he shared what he'd gone through when he was a child. He asked me how bad things were for me. I told him about finally leaving Bob when Cory was 8 weeks old, and how he showed up about a month later, punching his way in through a window to unlock the door, cutting his arm, slinging blood all over my house, and proceeding to drag me out of the house by my hair. I stood there a moment in my dress and boots, safe and sane just outside of my office door at my place of work and relived the police coming, staring up into the branches of my pine tree where my phone dangled by its tangled cord. Nowadays, they call that interference and in some states, it's a felony. I just shook my head bitterly at this information. Tearing the phone out of the wall and blocking the exit were the first things he'd do. PTSD? I think I had that a long time ago. No wonder it's so hard to shake.
I stood there and thought about that girl. She was seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. I thought about how she'd been afraid to stay with him and afraid to leave, all at the same time. I thought about how much she loved him, how she loved him with her entire body, soul, and being. I thought about how the good in him always shone through brighter than the sun and it blinded her... how sometimes the good times seemed worth any cost. I thought about how she never wanted the relationship to end, she only wanted the behavior to stop. I thought about how she'd thought if she did everything right, if she kept him happy, he wouldn't lose his temper anymore. He had succeeded at making her think it was her fault.
I thought about how alone she was. I thought about how she was too ashamed to go to anyone in her family. And some of it was just too awful to explain to someone who had no idea what in the world you were talking about. It was like living on a different planet.
"Why don't you just leave?"
I thought about how discouraged people who meant to help her became when she did leave, but went right back. Over and over and over again.
It took me nearly twenty years, all told, to finally say I won't accept that treatment. The last go round never got physical, but the emotional abuse was still there. And he did, on one memorable occasion, threaten to come over and cut me into 86 pieces.
I finally had to say "I am not your mother." I won't be treated this way, and I won't let my kids see me treated that way.
The last thing I wanted was to perpetuate the cycle by raising a boy who thinks abuse is okay or a girl who thinks she deserves it. No Cory, you deserve so much better.
It doesn't matter one flying fuck how Bob views what took place between us. What matters is that I know I made the right decision. He doesn't think it was wrong? He doesn't think it was abuse?
Well, then, if I'd stayed, he'd still be doing it, wouldn't he?
I can wish him well from the safety of my home with my son who will never think it's okay to push a girl or call her a cunt. I can love the parts of him that I love and treasure the good memories from a distance. I can always wish things had turned out differently, but I won't gamble my emotional health or physical safety on that wish ever again.
I am not his mother. Turns out, I never was.