I’ve been convalescing on the couch with a heavy dose of Gilmore Girls reruns. The rainy weather has got me down. Or maybe it’s all the running around like a Kentucky Fried chicken with its head cut off. It’s probably the latter.
Yesterday was a very long day. I logged in my exercise hours (which were quite scarce today) and then tried to get organized for a meeting of the rabbinical students’ wives in my apartment. I agreed to host during a fit of momentary insanity where I choosed to forget that I hate awkward social situations where I feel like I don’t know all the rules. Or any of the rules.
In my anxiety to overcompensate for being a naturally terrible hostess, I spent an hour cutting up melons and fruity fodder for a spinach salad. I was siezed with panic when I couldn’t find the hummus for the baby carrots. My back ached and my arms throbbed. Probably because before my stint as a human processor, I had lugged home too-heavy groceries.
I got about a block away from the supermarket when I figured out how to propell the bags forward with my legs. But then there was the problem of the of the 24-pack of water bottles, which I was assured by my Fitness magazine were not “green” for the environment. How the girl who should never carry any bags got home is one of G-d’s great miracles and one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
I didn’t neccessarily make it home in one piece. Once evening settled in and the wives were happily chatting away in my living room, my body revolted. I nodded while we discussed domestic violence but all the while, it felt like some evil hairy beast was trying to tear my right leg from my body…and succeeding. Then the hairy beast decided I was tasty and started to nibble on my lower back and chomp on my juicy little arm.
I’m not sure I survived the whole day. I know I didn’t. I had prepared for everything but…me. I didn’t expect that the domestic violence talk would unearth deep, dark not-so-mysterious emotions. Though, “domestic violence” is what they call it when it happens to adults, what happens to kids, “child abuse ,” isn’t all that different. Abusing people looks startling similar and has terribly similar effects.
My mother didn’t suffer from domestic violence. My father was a lover, not a fighter. She learned about wielding power and control from her own rocky childhood. She used coercion and threats to keep us in line, like offering to kill my siblings if I got out of line. She got me to lie about the abuse even when she wasn’t in the room. I was just that scared. And scared is too small a world to encompass the sheer terror I felt whenever I thought about my mother.
My mother never gave me enough money so that I could make an exit strategy. I knew I was stuck so when I stole from her, it was just a little off the top to get soda and potato chips while my sister and I washed and folded our clothes at the laundry mat. It was a treat we looked forward to every laundry day. Kind of the way we expected to be slap for doing the laundry wrong. Only, you know, different.
My mother’s looks could kill. Well, at the very least, we were sure what came after the look could. She mastered smiling at others and then darting a violence glance our way. She isolated us from our friends and family and forced us to look at the world with the distrust she had for it. Any man, she told us, was just ready to rape us. Even our father.
People don’t understand why victims of violence put up with it. My sister-in-law once asked why I never fought back. You don’t because you’re powerless. In body, spirit and mind. By the time fighting even crosses your mind, your self-esteem has been so worn down so thin that when the monster is done attacking you, you can do it for yourself. You become your very own anti-cheerleader.
“I need to get some new thoughts.” So said one of my favorite characters from my favorite Jack Nicholson movie.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to work on two pieces, one about struggling with depression, the other about struggling with fibromyalgia. The fruits of my labor can be found here: Aliza’s Works in Progress. And possibly, only ever there because I think my husband’s threatened to go into hiding if they get published. I guess you’ll decide if they’re worth such extremes.