The First Step
I remember the day I filled the car full. Full of all the things I thought he’d need; his baby walker, Moses basket, far too many clothes, stacks of nappies and his favourite beeping red fire engine. Weeoh weeoh it warned. I checked my watch and realised it was getting late. Too late. I lifted him up out of his highchair, his blue eyes and powder scented pink cheek reassured me that yes, it was time. I held him tight on the jut of my hip and hurried to the wardrobe where I kept the ‘important papers.’ I then closed the creaking storm doors behind me, hoping to keep the crash and thunder inside. The high hedge hid the busy road outside and I knew the blue car could come back at any moment, blocking me in like it had done before. Trapped. So I quickly strapped him in his car seat and pressed clunk on the door locks. I’m safe, I’m safe I repeated to myself turning the key. Then I reversed out, out, out and away.
I could tell you all about the ten years I spent before leaving. It’s a story you may know. It’s full of love and passion and wonder and then confusion, manipulation and domination. It’s full of false hope, snarling teeth, accusations, insinuations and humiliations. It’s full of daily terror and crunching eggshells and small little bones thrown to keep you, just enough to keep you. It’s a story someone may have told you about yourself, that you are nothing, not just nothing, you are worse, you are unseen, unheard, a loon, a crazymotherfucker who MUST have postnatal depression, because God knows you are one awful mother. All these things to keep you as prey, in a circle, in a cycle.
Something made me come out of the delusional fog I was in for a moment and take the laptop into the bedroom whilst he was out one night. I had a thought that maybe this wasn’t my fault; maybe there was something wrong in how I was being treated. I had grown so accustomed to the abuse by then that it had become normalised. In my night of freedom I researched all the things that were happening, all the name calling, meanness, put-downs followed by calmness, niceness, before it all restarted again. Something clicked. This would go on and on. This circle, a never-ending cycle. And this little sleeping bundle lying next to me would suffer or worse; think that this is how you treat women.
I look at him now all gangly long legs and easy smile and fun friends and playfights and football tables and freckles and the laughs- we- have- till- we- cry. And I know that this would be a different boy had I stayed. And I look in the mirror and I know this woman who looks back wouldn’t have existed.