I woke up this morning nestled up next to my daughter. I felt like the glowing red light on a charging battery. She felt so warm and soft and smelled so sweet. I kept thinking, “I’m in love with her. I’m in love with her.”
I also felt quiet tears trickling down my cheeks, as scenes from last night played in my mind. I thought, “This isn’t what my mother would have wanted for me—this isn’t what she would have wanted.”
I felt relieved when I heard the front door close at 6:30 AM, as my husband left for work.
My husband went on a fishing trip yesterday with a buddy and a guide in hopes of catching stripers. He called me midday to tell me that they were on their way to another location. He explained that, so far, the morning had been fruitless, but he felt like they learned some good fishing tips from the guide. He was eating some lunch, while they drove to the next spot. He said, “I love you.” I replied, “I love you.” And then I went back to working out in my living room.
He left before sunrise and came home after sunset. They didn’t catch any fish. He was tired and disappointed when he came home. He watched the rest of the Eagles game, while I read next to him on our bed. He began snoring after the final minute of football.
Three hours later, it was time for me to tuck our kids into bed. I got them settled and snuggled. I came back to my room and put my book on my nightstand and turned off the light. I realized that he was laying on top of the covers when I tried to pull them over me. I gently touched his shoulder and asked him if he could get under them, so I could do the same. He growled and rolled over onto his side.
I got up and went to look for another blanket. I realized that they were in the laundry, so I got back into bed and softly nudged him and repeated that I wanted him to get under the covers. He scowled, but didn’t wake up.
I settled onto my back using what little blanket I could get, since moving them from under 200 pounds is impossible, when I felt my five-pound puppy land swiftly onto my face. He swatted her off of his chest. I didn’t know such a small poodle could pack so much wallop. I petted her and turned over mumbling to myself, “He’s such a jerk.” I didn’t realize that it was audible or that he was awake enough to hear me, but I found out that he did when he sprung up and his hands grasped around my throat. He yelled, “I’M A JERK? I’M A JERK? YOU FUCKING CUNT! I’M A JERK? I WORK HARD ALL DAY SO YOU CAN GO TO THE GYM AND GET YOUR NAILS DONE AND HAVE CLEANING LADIES AND A ROBOT FOR A VACUUM CLEANER, AND I’M A JERK? I felt his hands stop squeezing my neck, as spit continued to splash down onto my face. His pressed his gigantic fist against my cheekbone and nose and threatened to punch me. I could feel him trembling and more saliva was spewing as he repeated, YOU CUNT! YOU CUNT! I heard myself apologizing, “I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean it. I was just angry because the dog hit me in the face and it hurt. I’m sorry. I’m sorry! Please stop, you’re hurting me. Please, I didn’t mean it.”
He got off of me when he heard our kids coming down the stairs. He stood in the bedroom doorway pointing and yelling at me, “ONE OF THESE DAYS I’M JUST NOT GOING TO COME HOME. THEN YOU’LL BE SORRY! YOU’LL LOSE EVERYTHING! YOU BETTER HOPE THAT BOOK OF YOURS IS A NUMBER ONE BEST FUCKING SELLER! WHEN I DON’T ANSWER MY PHONE TOMORROW, YOU’LL KNOW WHY. Then he addressed our son who was repeating, “Dad, dad, please stop. Calm down, calm down.” He screamed at our son, WOULD YOU KNOCK IT OFF? I’M NOT GOING TO BEAT YOUR MOTHER. JUST GET OUT OF MY FACE! IF I DON’T ANSWER MY PHONE OR COME HOME TOMORROW YOU KNOW WHY!” My son said, “Dad, just go outside and have a cigarette and calm down for a minute.”
My husband paced like a lion waiting to be fed and continued to seethe with hatred. My son continued to block the hallway with his body to deter his father from stomping back into our bedroom. He followed his dad out onto the back porch and tried to change the subject. He was only wearing boxers and a t-shirt.
My daughter was crying. She got into bed with me. I heard her lock the bedroom door. She asked me if the key was in the hallway. She told me to hide it.
I whispered, “It’s over now honey.” I felt her press her little girl body up against my back. She put her small arm around me. We held onto each other tightly. I heard her soft, slumbering breath a few minutes later. I tried to block out the whole scene. I didn’t want to think about it. I could feel my face and neck throbbing. He didn’t punch me, but I was sore. He terrorized me more than he inflicted pain.
I think he stops himself from doing major damage to my face because he doesn’t want to go to jail, not because he doesn’t want to hurt me. He was there briefly once and he doesn’t want to go back.
I tried to go to sleep, but couldn’t relax. I felt the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet sweating. I felt guilty. My kids shouldn’t have to be scared or have to try to protect me.
I went out into the living room out of fear. I was looking for closure and measuring his mood, so I could sleep. He was watching an old movie. He seemed to have calmed down. I apologized for calling him a jerk. I leaned down to kiss his cheek. He turned away and said, “Don’t even try it, Jessica.” You make me out to be such an abusive asshole all the time.” I said, "I’m sorry. Where are you working tomorrow? In New Jersey? He said, “Yeah, Lambertville.” I replied, “Okay, well goodnight.” He didn't reply.
I got back under the covers and told myself that I would be safe for the rest of the night.
Thankfully, my dreams helped me drift into comfort.