I always knew that one of my parents would die by the hands of the other. So from the age of 7, I would pretend now and then, that one of them died and I would go through the motions of extreme grief and sadness. My imagination would actually put me there, in the funeral parlor, as if my mom or dad was in the coffin, dead. I would cry and cry and the despair would envelope me until it stopped. Sounds sick, I know. But I actually made the conscious resolve in my head as a young child that I would prepare my mind for the inevitable so that when it did happen, it wouldn't hurt so much.
How did I know one of my parents would die by the hands of the other? It wasn't mathematics. They fought constantly, with my father having the upper hand always. Actually, my mother would be trying to defend herself from the physical blows my father would plague her body with. Her skin would become raised with big red blotches everywhere. And her eyes would be filled with tears that welled up but never trickled out, at least not for me to see. Shame was written all over my mom's face as she looked at me everytime my father would finish beating her.
When I was 6, we moved from a 2nd floor apartment in a two family house to the basement of another two family house one block away. I hated this place because it was dark and the windows were so little, I couldn't even climb out of them if I wanted to. So there was hardly any sunlight and the walls were 70's plywood panels. No matter how much my mom cleaned, the place would always smell like a garage, damp and rocky. Anyway, at this home of ours, this was the first time my mother showed me an envelope filled with $100 dollar bills (I can't remember how many exactly but it was a thick envelope) and told me, "I am putting this envelope under my mattress. If anything happens to me, take it and go to your grandmother's house".
I was either 7 or 8 at the time and I knew exactly what she meant by "If anything happens to me...", so I just shook my head in agreement. Back then, it felt chilling but normal. But now I wonder, How the hell can $100 bills compensate for the loss of my mother? What was she thinking? But she wasn't thinking. My mom was feeling; feeling pure desperation, knowing that her life was on the line every single day.
I want everyone in abusive relationships, situations to understand that they can get help. There are many programs that can help you regardless of how trapped you may feel, such as the ones listed to the left of this passage. There is no reason for anyone to live in fear of their life. Save your children, save yourselves!
The next time we moved, it was into a house. My parents bought a beautiful 3 bedroom home with a huge backyard, cute front lawn and a full basement. I was 10 at this time and my mom came to me again and showed me a thick envelope full of $100 bills and said, "If anything happens to me, take this, okay." Somehow I thought that moving into this house was going to mean change for the better. Maybe, I thought, my father would stop beating my mother and we could be like those families on t.v. But when my mother came to me with the same low, secretive voice (although my father was out somewhere) and showed me that envelope again, this time with even more $100 bills, I sighed insided my soul and realized, we weren't transitioning to a better place at all. I said, "Okay mommy". Then she stuffed it underneath the carpet in her bedroom by the closet door in the corner. Six years later, when my father finally killed my mom, I totally forgot about the envelope filled with $100 bills. I was only concerned about saving myself and my little brother and sister.