Pitcher 11: Hope
I met my husband when I was fifteen. I loved him before I loved myself, as if that’s even possible. We were married at nineteen against my mother’s wishes. But, “when a baby is growing in your belly, you marry the man that put it in there.” That’s what daddy said.
We loved hard. We laughed hard. We lived hard; check to check. Everything was a struggle, but I believed there was nothing we couldn’t overcome. We needed each other. We were each other’s habit. I gave him all of me. He gave me stability. He put a roof over my head and made sure all of my needs were met. I gave him my unconditional support and babies, “heirs to the throne.” Three sons and five years later, he was still unsatisfied and he was still changing.
He didn’t want me to have a life outside of our home because he feared it would rob him of some part of me, so I isolated myself from the rest of the world. It was safer that way. It felt weird at first, but “a woman obeys her husband.” That’s what daddy said. He finished school. I took care of him and home. He invested in himself. I invested in him too. He made plans. He was my plan. What happens when plans are thwarted? Intuition
I was pregnant with my second son the first time he hit me. He was young and stressed. There was a new job; a whole new career path he was pursuing. Uncertainty coupled with a growing family put him on the edge, and he acted out of fear. This wasn’t his nature. This didn’t define our relationship. This was a mistake, not a character flaw. This didn’t happen to people like us. It happened in TV movies with white characters. Denial
I stopped lying to myself when I was consistently wearing sunglasses and darker shades of makeup to avoid the looks of pity from the grocery cashier. After having my third son and being accustomed to a regular routine of beatings, I employed elements of passive aggressiveness because leaving was not an option I could grasp. I burned through many of his clothes with the iron. I cut the seam out of the seats of his pants. I left rotten food in places hard to find in his car. I put a little “Shug Avery pee” in his lemonade. I provoked him when I could. Anger I didn’t care about his reactions anymore. I didn’t care about our marriage anymore either. I didn’t care about him at all. Worse, I stopped caring about me. I’m not sure if I ever did. I put forth zero effort, save nurturing my sons. They are all that mattered. Apathy
I saw nothing when I looked at myself in the mirror. There was a hole where my smile used to be. My eyes were hollowed sockets; my skin a placid, blank canvas. I was void of joy or sorrow. I felt, saw, thought nothing. Time was elusive. My physical body was functioning and existing, but I was not living. I literally longed for a complete death by his hands. I wanted to look down upon him suffering the consequence of taking my life. I couldn’t understand why there was no consequence for him taking my life. Emptiness
One day, as I was washing dishes, a song my mother used to sing to me as a child welled up inside me and tears came streaming down my face, dripping into the water. A dam inside me broke and a flood came forth. I must’ve cried a thousand tears, one for every blow. I started seeing images of my former self laughing and dancing and loving and living, and I cried all the more. I missed myself. I mourned the loss of her. Loss Then, I remembered that I was the one that erased her; not my husband, not even my father. I gave them both permission to silence me. I was afraid to pursue my own dreams, so I supported his. I didn’t have faith in my own ability, so I depended on his. I didn’t trust or love myself, so I was attracted to someone that wouldn’t either. I repeated the pattern I witnessed, though I knew better. I look nothing like my mother, but I am everything like my mother. And, that was my decision. Accountability
With this newfound realization, came changes, shifts in my very being. I began nurturing my spiritual self back to health. Everything I read and consumed had a purpose to heal. I was the first to rise each morning and the last to retire. Every waking moment was spent reminding myself of who and Whose I am. Reformation My husband didn’t exist to me for a time. He was present, but had no presence. He had been a tool of my own self-destruction. What I allowed was always in my control. He did not hold me prisoner. He was not the problem. I understood that now. I released him of that power and freed myself of the burden of my own self-loathing. Forgiveness
When the Spirit reawakens the Spirit within you, and you have truly risen from the ashes of your former self, you are connected to the omnipotence of God. There is nothing you cannot conquer. There is no feat too great or obstacle too insurmountable. When you elevate yourself from your valley, the view is much clearer, brighter, focused, and tangible. Resurrection
I left my husband to rediscover myself and returned when I knew I was whole and well. Much to the surprise of many, including my husband and sons, I did not end my marriage. I transformed it. He too was mirroring the actions he had seen and did all that I allowed. He walked the same steps of the healing process in his own way and took full accountability for his role in our destruction. We resurrected our marriage once we resurrected our best selves, but we didn’t do it alone. We sought and still seek counseling both individually and as a couple.
We were ill-equipped to enter marriage when we did. Now, we’ve been trained and we honor all that we are by investing in each other. I have no longer been comfortable in his shadow. My light is brilliantly beaming. I’m able to define myself for myself as I continue to pursue higher education and my personal goals and dreams. He is my greatest supporter in every effort. My sons now see a man they can model and a woman of which they can be proud. A vicious cycle has been broken. It’s been ten years since he last touched me unkindly, and I’m looking forward to a lifetime of continuous recovery. We love whole. We live well. We have HOPE.
We’ve started a new life in a new location in the past few years, and no one here knows our story. I love that my life now doesn’t reflect what it was. I also love that I am no longer pitied or hindered by the judgements of others. But, I am thankful to have revisited my course for this piece. It’s a reminder of how powerful we are.
-One of the Risen Ones
An inspired piece written by Black Girl, T. Anyabwelé
Until the conversation about each of the phases is complete, you’ll hear the voices of various contributors who will dissect the recently released, updated Black Woman Manifesto: “Lemonade.” This post is specifically about “Hope.” Some of the contributors have chosen to use a pseudonym. Others have chosen to submit inspired works of fiction. If any name used reflects that of someone in reality, it is only by coincidence. Read all other posts at www.blackgirlspeaks.me .