The Accident

Due to the previous tropical storm, a number of bridges had been swept away by raging rivers. As a result there were many temporary bypass roads to enable motorists to get around the island unhindered. When we arrived at my parent’s home from work that day, they explained that there seemed to be an issue with the water. They didn’t have anymore drinking water and were in desperate need of some. Water was a habitual issue in their area, however it was unlikely that I had the same issue given that I lived further away. My dad asked my then boyfriend aka Mr Impatient. He smiled and seemed happy to grant the favour. We took their empty bottles so that we could fill them at my place. A short time after we left their home a very heated argument exploded. He felt he was being used as an errand boy, and that my folks shouldn’t be depending on me to help them out of the situation. It had gotten so ugly that I remember demanding that he stop the car so that I could get off. I also remember that for the first time since living on the island that I wasn’t exactly sure of where I was. So I couldn’t decide if I should walk back to my parents or walk to my place. I was truly disoriented. I decided that I’d prefer to move in the opposite direction of where we had been heading and walk back to my parents home. I was furious and I knew my adrenalin would take me wherever I needed to get to.

I must digress. Firstly; what you get whilst dating is what you’ll get in marriage. Secondly; when married folk tell you that marriage doesn’t change people, please believe. We had so many arguments about nothing and everything. I always put it down to his insecurities which stemmed from his abusive childhood. I figured that once he understood who I was that he wouldn’t feel insecure and that he would be more comfortable and stable and confident in us as a couple. I wrongly thought that once he really came to know the kind of woman I was, that he would accept that I wasn’t going to play with his heart or emotions, and that I was there for the long haul.

What you get whilst dating is exactly what you get when you marry. After we got married the arguing over arbitrary petty issues intensified and he always doubted my loyalty to him and our marriage. He did change after we married, but that was in the sense that he no longer hid or held back the true nature of his ugly abusive side from me. Marriage doesn’t change people, the ugly part of them that you glimpsed during courtship doesn’t magically cure itself or disappear. If anything it intensifies. Pray and choose wisely.

He kept shouting out my name and asking me to return to the car but I just kept walking. When I didn’t respond to him, he got out of the car and started apologizing profusely. I kept walking. I heard him walk away from me and was relieved that at least I would have peace and quiet. I heard the engine start but instead of driving away he reversed the car so that he could catch up with me. Very quietly he said “Byooti, I’m sorry. Please get in the car”. I complied and got back into the car and we continued the journey.

We filled the water bottles that we had brought with us and headed back to my parents home. By now all was calm. I remember that as he drive I was explaining something to him, I don’t remember what, but I had turned myself in the seat so that I could face him. As he drove I anticipated him turning right because the bridge that we had to cross was out and we would have to use the bypass. I frowned as I spoke because we were not slowing down and I knew we were near the bridge. Before I even turned to check our location I screamed “Mr Impatient, the bridge!” I spun round in my seat and placed my hand on the dashboard to brace for impact. As my eyes turned forward to face our direction of travel, I saw where the bridge gave way before I saw the barriers placed in front of it. I felt him slam the brakes. We jolted, he slammed them again. We hit the concrete cone and the car came to a stop. We sat in silence for a few seconds. I was immensely consoled that I had not died. Just then another vehicle arrived and realised what had happened. They were going in our direction and offered us a lift. I sat and listened as Mr Impatient made small talk with the driver. I was unable to process what had just happened. I was tired and numb. All I really wanted was my bed. I didn’t want to be conscious, I didn’t want to think.

It was a few days before I allowed my mind to process what had happened that evening. He had felt put out by helping me acquire water for my family and he took his frustration out on me, hence the argument on the way to my place. If you’re dating and your so-called beloved takes issue when you have to support your family in some way,  do yourself favour and move on. Someone who understands family interconnectedness will not stand in your way of helping your own family. Now I’m not talking about the parasite family where you are depended on to do everything for them when they can easily support themself in your absence or the type of family that maliciously tries to stand between you and your significant other. If this person you love so much becomes annoyed or angry when you take a call from your family or begrudges you when you do the odd errand this is a very big red flag. Walk away.

I concluded that though I was calm and had put the dispute behind me, he was still holding on to his anger from earlier. We had driven that route many times before and after it was damaged. During daylight and at night. He hid it well, but he was so consumed that he was blinded by his anger. Literally. Do you know what’s worse? While God would probably expect me to forgive him, the worse bit is that I excused and accepted his behaviour and I remained in a relationship with him. In any relationship there is bound to be disagreements and arguing. The important thing to note is how the individual behaves towards you while they are angry. Do they walk away, blow off steam then come back and have a rational conversation? Do they apologise even if they are not in the wrong? Do they throw and break things in rage? Do they give the silent treatment for days on end? Part of being successfully married is knowing how and what to do when there is conflict because conflict should always be resolved amiably; and never let the sun go down on your wrath.

Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick tempered person stockpiles stupidity. Proverbs 14:29

The Message Bible

Coercive control

I came across an interesting article the other day which I thought I’d share here.

The abuser uses coercion to control their victim. It’s camouflage is a replica of the enemy himself; subtle, sly, deceitful and incredibly manipulative. It happens to the victim without them even being conscious of it, and that is the whole point! It can’t be pinned down to one situation, it is an accumulation of consistent behaviour patterns exhibited by the perpetrator over time. I won’t say more because the following article says it all.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-wales-50601858

The enemy and the perpetrator seek our unwavering allegiance, but our loyalty belongs to God. The enemy seeks to destroy us when we dont comply with him. Our loving God always gives us the power of choice. Love always gives a choice. What a mighty God we serve!

I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit and sit down to supper with you. Revelation 3:20

The Message Bible

‘Reason to believe’

My father and I were chatting the other day and somehow the song ‘Reason to believe’ came up in the conversation. I knew that Rod Stewart had sung the song but wasn’t sure who the original composer was. I played it on my phone and we sang along. As I sang, the lyrics brought flashbacks of my former life. How profound this song is!

If I listened long enough to you,
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true.
Knowing, that you lied straight-faced while I cried,
Still I look to find a reason to believe.        

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
Somebody else,
Someone like you makes it easy to give
Never think about myself.   

If I gave you time to change my mind
I’d find a way just to leave the past behind
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe.

Tim Hardin (1965).

There are some people who always see the good in the people that other people write off. They are perceived as the bad apples of society. I saw the good in my ex-husband and felt he was harshly judged by others. Given his childhood, I was surprised that he wasn’t a great deal more imbalanced. I understood his quirks and because of his commitment to self-healing, I committed to support him on his journey of healing. Although I knew it would pose many challenges, I wasn’t scared. I loved him and his restoration was going to be a testament to the efficacy of God.

To the outsider listening in on a conversation between the victim and perpetrator, the lies are so obvious. Maybe it’s obvious to the victim as well, but we become so blinded by the capacity of the perpetrator to do good, that we lose sight of the fact that they don’t do good; at least not by their partner. While we may not see through their lies all the time (the whole point about being a good liar is that the tales are very plausible), but there are times when you can feel the deceit. Yet we look to find a reason to believe. We want so much to believe in them as a decent human that we fail to process the plethora of consistent toxic patterns of behaviours exhibited before our very eyes. In a micro second we forgive the hurtful repetitive wrongs and wave away the past fabrications and misconduct. We think more of the perpetrator and less and less about self. It’s not altruistic, it’s emotional suicide.

Honesty lives confidently and carefree, but shifty is sure to be exposed, Proverbs 10:9.

The Message Bible

Sex without love

There are all sorts of battles and wars in an abusive relationship. Most of them are with your partner but it is equally true to say that some of them are fought within your own self too. ‘To have or to not have sex’ is such a disagreeable position to be in. It was always on my to-do list alongside the ironing and cooking. It became nothing more than a chore to be done.

Before being married I had a concept of sex in my mind. It is a beautiful expression and mixture of physical oneness, ecstasy and vulnerability.  It draws you into each other in such a way that you almost feel as if you are breathing the very essence of your partner’s being. It stimulates a feeling of mutual peace and satisfaction. It delivers restoration and renewal . It’s refreshing. It endorses unity on a profound level. I still believe those things.

When the horror of my decision to marry this man dawned on me, I became a woman on autopilot about everything. Life in the house and with him became a series of routines that just needed to be done. It was life devoid of emotions. Sex is hard to initiate (or even desire for that matter) when your life is all about getting ready for combat, engaging in the actual warfare and recovering from the conflict. The bigger picture was to prevent an argument about the lack of sex. The smaller picture was about how to manage my emotions during and after. The buoyancy  of love both Eros and agape have declined to a critical level yet I felt an obligation to service my husband and avoid a dispute. I always knew I never wanted to be the wife who selfishly withheld sex but who willingly embraces a cactus tree?

Sex in daylight hours were hardest. I learned to fake my facial expressions. I showed him the happy participant face while on the inside I was screaming and even hating both him and myself. Night sex was easier. We never bothered to keep the lights on because the street light was near enough to the bedroom. The glow illuminated just enough so as not to be intrusive. I didn’t have to hide my real feelings because he couldn’t see them, perhaps if he could he would have run away. You see I could easily wear my resentment, and it was my animosity that got me through sex.

I hated sex with him. The most beautiful gift of God to mankind was now so grotesque. I always felt cheap afterwards, like I was a maid with the extra responsibility of providing sex but with no extra pay, bonus or compensation of any kind. Sex without love is one of the most degrading things I experienced in my marriage but it also made me wonder about other things. Is this how women enslaved as sex workers and prostitutes who are pimped feel? Sex is just a means to an end? How do they keep their sanity throughout the act time after time? How do they maintain their self-esteem? Imagine being in a situation where you experience worthlessness everyday and all the time? That’s a special type of hell.

Because God is King, I am a princess. His love is unconditional regardless of our circumstances. Regardless of what we call ourselves, He says we are His children. That makes us royalty. No one can take that from us. Our circumstances can often makes us feel like scum. God reminds us that we are His gems!

He brought us to life using the true word, showing us off as the crown of all His creatures, James 1:18.

The Message Bible

The River

One of the things my ex-husband and I loved, was being outdoors and anything to do with nature. A number of our dates incorporated our inclination to be in nature. On one such occasion he took me to a river close to his work place. He warned me that the water would be cold and to look out for snakes. I was only bothered about the latter. Some folks would term it ‘irrational’ but I have a deep seated fear of snakes, I really hate them!

We turned off the road to a foot track. It wasn’t far. It was a cosy pool though not deep. I was about to step into the shallow pool when he reminded me of it’s coldness, “I think you’ve forgotten that I’m a cold water baby. I also believe that you are stalling!” With that I stepped into the pool and immersed myself. The water was exhilarating and refreshing. When I emerged he was standing on a stone and seemed reluctant to get wet. He was hoping from foot to foot as if plucking up the courage to get in.

“You’re a chicken!”

“No, it’s not that. You have to choose the exact right moment step in.”

“You are behaving like a scared cat! Fortunately for you, I am here to support your transition into the water.”

“But I don’t need any help. I will just stand guard while you enjoy the water.”

I screamed with laughter. What a line! I splashed him. The impact of the icy cold water on his body, made him inhale sharply. He quickly jumped in. We laughed long and hard that afternoon.

The problem with abusive relationships is that the happy good times are far and few between (for some). We had good days and we made wonderful memories. He could be charming when he wanted and needed to be. However, it had no longevity. When I eventually realised that there was a pattern (a short phase of love followed by a longer phase of no love), I reprogrammed myself not to be drawn in by his ‘love’.  It would always be fleeting. It could never be trusted or relied on. It was so fleeting that I often wondered if the ‘love’ phase actually happened to me.

God’s love for humanity, His love for me is unwavering. It always has been and always will be. Probably there is no human being on this planet who can love unconditionally like God, but it is no excuse to settle for a ‘love’ that falls so short that it only causes agony and affliction. Don’t ever sell yourself short.

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.

The Message Bible

The pregnancy test

The month had ended and a new one had begun. This was it, I had to be pregnant! I could barely contain my excitement. The next step was to buy a pregnancy test, in the meantime it was going to be a closely guarded secret.

On one particular morning, I was out doing my usual early morning brisk walk. The moon was out which added to my exuberance. I spoke to my unborn child. I told them how much love was in my heart for them, in fact it was overflowing though we had never met. I spoke of how I would protect them until my dying day. I expressed how I intended to make each and every day count, we would create numerous memories. I confessed that though I was only human I was going to be the best mum that I could be. I shared the things I loved about life and how I knew we would enjoy gazing at the moon together. I revealed that I was excited to share with daddy the good news of their existence. I knew he’d be as excited as I was to meet them in the months to come.

Later that week I rushed into town on my lunch break to purchase a pregnancy test. The rest of the day had much more hours than it should of had. Why does time drag when you need it to fly? I had to force myself to pay attention to my husband as we drove home, thoughts of the positive result of the pregnancy test had me daydreaming all day. My concentration skills were way below zero. I resisted the urge to run to the toilet as we entered the house. As soon as he was distracted, I grabbed the test from my handbag and went to the toilet. I hurriedly read the instruction then took a deep breath and read them again. I didn’t want to make any mistakes! I purposely made myself sing a song to slow myself down. My heart was thumping too loudly with titillation, I really needed to just calm down. I shook my head in self-bemusement and stretched down to the ground to pick up the test.

Then everything stopped. It was negative. How could I not be pregnant? My period was at least two weeks late, this didn’t make sense. He must have noticed my bewildered look as I came out of the bathroom because he asked me what was wrong. I walked towards him, with the pregnancy test outstretched in my hand, “My period is two weeks late but this says I’m not pregnant. I don’t understand what’s wrong” I cried as I rested my head on his chest. He sidestepped me and walked away without saying a word. I still don’t know which hurt more; the negative pregnancy test or his total emotional detachment in that moment when I needed, not wanted, but needed his emotional support.

“Don’t you care?” I wailed through my tears.

“Well I don’t understand why you’re crying. It will happen when it’s meant to happen. There is no need for all this crying.”

I felt nothing, I was numb. I turned to the kitchen to start supper. Emotional abuse is also a situation where appropriate emotion is void or absent when it should be shared and supported towards another individual. He didn’t have the capacity to support my emotional needs. The gravity of the mistake of my marriage was beginning to sink in.

Numbness was easier to deal with than my anger. The mood is low, non-responsive. The moment gets filed away without any reaction. It’s downplayed almost to the point where you question if it ever really happened. You dust yourself off and continue the day. Just like that your mind creates coping mechanisms to help you deal with inconceivable reality that is now your life. I know God was making sure that I didn’t self-destruct.

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff edge of doom, courageous in seashore and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains . . . Psalm 46: 1-3.

The Message Bible

Unity

Sometimes you see the sullen face and just ignore it. Chances are there is NOTHING wrong. It’s a ruse to draw you in. Maybe just to see if you really love them, because if you do, you would realise something is wrong and you would ask. That proves you care. Somehow it’s proof. Sometimes nothing is wrong but you are maybe too happy, too serene, too content within yourself and it’s time to throw you off, time to destabilise your ‘happy place’. Whatever the motive nothing good will come of it for you.

When we awoke that morning everything was fine. We travelled to church and everything was fine. We sat through the cburch service, everything was fine. We travelled home, still fine. We walked through the door and things were not fine anymore. Suddenly he was a little hostile, and his face was tense. Battle stations!

“You were not with me in church today” he announced. Of all the dumb things to say.

“Excuse me?”

“Where were you? What were you thinking of. What was on your mind?”

I always struggled with the dumb yet loaded questions, but I was in smart mouth mode. “I was in church sitting right next to you and I was paying attention to the service. I was right next to you.”

“You were not there for me. You were next to me but your mind was far. You need to be with me. This has been going on for weeks and it needs to stop.”

Now how does an individual digest that? “I do not understand. We sat together holding hands the whole time. How was I not there?”

“It’s not enough. You need to connect with me all the time, even in church.” Great, now I had to somehow manifest a psychic connection with my husband. How does one do this? “You can look at me sometimes or smile. Just check that I’m ok.” I get it now. He wanted a babysitter that specialised in him.

“Yeah ok. I get it.”

During that phase being in church was difficult. Previously, It had always been like a ‘service’ stop on the motorway. We are all on this life journey and we have to make a stop every so often to rest, fill up then continue the expedition. The downtime is vital otherwise you will burn yourself out. When we come in the presence of The Almighty, we praise and worship Him and allow His word to fuel us until the next pit stop. Isn’t it refreshing to meet and spend time with The Creator? Somehow, in the rollercoaster of emotional survival it was hard to bask in the glory of His love for me. My mind would be so cluttered with pain that I couldn’t always connect with God. I simply went through the motions of being in church. In some ways I didn’t want that connection because I felt that he (Mr Impatient) would find ways to breach it. Going to church is supposed to be about meeting God. He is central to the whole activity. He is the reason to attend, but like everything else in my life Mr Impatient managed to make church be about him.

There were times when I know he purposely started an argument or start a put-me-down tirade just so that he could break my spirit before church. He especially liked doing this when it was my turn to lead worship. He knew my vocal chords never worked very well once they engaged in tears. How do you lead with joy and thanksgiving when you’re feeling melancholy and wistful?

God is ever faithful! He manoeuvred me through those times. I never would have made it without Him. Our unity with Him must be guarded and protected at all costs.

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24 The Message Bible

If you would like to share your story send me an email to byootifulashes@gmail.com.

Watch “Mark’d – Award Winning Short Film #Gaslighting #EmotionalAbuse”

It can be hard to explain your abusive circumstances when you can’t make heads or tails of it yourself. Unfortunately, because emotional abuse isn’t always obvious it is difficult to recognise and define too. God never intended His children to be punching bags for anyone, neither does He expect us to dwell in an abusive relationship. The scars run deep, but guess what? There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole (Balm in Gilead, 1919. Harry Thacker Burleigh). Hallelujah!

He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds, Psalm 147:3. The Message Bible.

The Legacy of Women.

My mother shared a piece of family history which I wish to share today.

My great grandfather bought a piece of cloth and asked my great grandmother to make a dress with it for my mother. My grandmother was trying to make a ‘better life’ for herself so that she could eventually send for my mother. In the meantime my great grandmother took on the role of ‘mother’ to my mum. My great grandmother looked at the cloth and informed her husband that it wouldn’t be enough to make a dress and left it at that.

A few weeks passed. My great grandmother was asked why a dress hadn’t been made yet. She gave him the same reply as before, that the cloth wouldn’t be enough to make a dress for my mother. My great grandmother wasn’t a seamstress but she was in the habit of buying cloth and giving it to the the village seamstress to make clothes for my mother. So all things considered, she knew what she was talking about right? He raised his walking stick and struck her. Whether or not he meant it as the intended target, her breast bore the brunt of the wallop from his walking stick. My mother witnessed this, and as he raised his stick to beat my great grandmother again, my mother sprinted from the yard. She headed to the yard of her grand aunt who lived nearby.

“Auntie come quick, grandad is beating my grandma with his stick!”

She wasted no time. She screamed out to her sister who lived just below her through the bushes. “Cissy! Come fast. David is killing Agnes with his stick!” My great grand-aunts were aged but fearless. When my mother’s grand aunts arrived, they dragged their brother-in-law off of my great grandmother. They returned the favour on behalf of their sister . . . they each had a stick. Perceiving that they perhaps wouldn’t stop, my great grandmother mustered up the last of her strength to stop them and tell them that they had beaten him enough. They looked at her then at each other and shrugged their shoulders. The avenging sisters each took an arm, dragged him across the yard and threw him into the bushes and left. He had never beaten her before, he should have kept up that trend because he almost paid with his life for that incident. Needless to say he never beat her after that.

My mother said, “Byooti, you come from a long line of strong women. They were by no means perfect. Sometimes they quarreled and wouldn’t speak to each other for a time, but if you messed with one, you messed with all of them, they were formidable women. They stood up for themselves and each other. They didn’t take nonsense from anybody. You have had quite a journey, you have the scars to prove it, but I also know it’s made you stronger”.

I come from a line of strong women and I am proud of that. Genesis 2 relates the creation of man and woman. God in His wisdom saw that it wasn’t a good idea for Adam to be alone so He created Eve. She was to be His helper and companion. Eve wasn’t supposed to boss Adam around and tell him what she thought his job should be, neither was it her job to sit back and do nothing. Eve was Adam’s teammate in every sense of the word. God gave us a beautiful role in life, and if we are not blessed in that particular way to have our own teammate, we can be a teammate and companion to relatives, friends and countless others.

It takes a sense of pride and strength to fulfil God’s plan in our lives when it comes to a monogamous relationship. It is equally important to be just as strong when your partner stands in your way and doesn’t allow you to accomplish this. Humanity are fearfully and wonderfully, which means absolutely no one has the right to make you feel that you are not a Prince or Princess of the Most High. My grand-aunts took a stand and were not about to let their sister be beaten. I wish I had taken a stand sooner in my marriage. Hindsight is seldom useful, but I’m here now. God has enabled me to stand strong, and by His might and through His strength I will not be broken again.

Then he answered me and spake unto me saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6.  

King James Bible

If you would like to share your story send me an email to byootifulashes@gmail.com!

The rage inside

The problem with trying not to react to the daily abuse of the perpetrator pushing your buttons is that you may at some point inevitably give them the firework display of reactions they have been waiting to see. I had dealt with the occasional bully at school, but if anyone had told me that one day I would be so frequently angry that I would always feel on the verge of lashing out physically, I would have felt deeply insulted and deigned to give them an answer. I never had an anger management issue until I met Mr Impatient.

He was walking away from me after an argument about something. It was customary for him to be irrational, authoritarian, divisive and controlling whenever we had a quarrel. It was the first time I snapped. A volcano can only restrain the rising pressure within for a certain period of time. I wanted to scream but the words wouldn’t come. He was being beyond unreasonable and I was at breaking point. The already wonky fan was right next to me. In total vexation I slammed it to the floor. He turned around surprised by my reaction. He smiled at me and said that he expected me to replace the broken fan. Then he simply left the house.

One Sunday afternoon I went to visit my family, I had also planned to plait my sister’s hair during my visit. From the moment I made the announcement Mr Impatient started to behave in a strange manner. He was very placid, tactile and warm towards me. His playful manner made it obvious that he didn’t want me to spend time with my family but I was determined to go. When I said that I was leaving he pretended to be surprised that the time had already come. I left anyway.

My family and I all engaged in chatter as I cornrowed my sister’s hair. Afterwards, she and I completed one of her easier 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles. I realised then how much I missed genuine adult conversation, just being relaxed, not walking on eggshells and not feeling anxious.

It felt good to be in the company of my parents and sister. It had been far too long since I had spent time with them or visited, but as I walked home I became apprehensive. What would his mood be like? He had hinted all morning that he wanted to spend time with me, but I knew this wasn’t genuine. I knew that he was hoping that I would reschedule with my family and spend the day with him with the implication that he and I would do something special like spending it at the river or beach. He would most likely wait for some time to pass then casually announce that he didn’t feel like going anywhere. Once you’ve learned to distrust the ‘niceness’ of a toxic person, you improve your ability to grasp their predictive behaviour. You get the knack of determining why they are being amiable.

I took a deep breathe as I went up the steps. The door suddenly flew open. He was standing there with a warm, handsome winning smile on his face. Something is obviously wrong. Red flag. I mustered up a smile that matched his and said hello.

“Come, come! You must be tired. Did your sister like the hairstyle you did for her? Come, I want to hear all about your afternoon”. The fact is he despised my family so why the sudden interest? Red flag. He led me to the bedroom. We lay side by side.

“She always loves her hair once its done! We all had so much to catch up. Lisa and I did one of her large puzzles. She chose the Africa one”.

“Details, details. What did you all talk about?”

I mentioned one of the general topics we had spoken about.

“Ok, but who said what? You are still holding back from me. What exactly was said?”

“You want me to give you a detailed account of my families conversation?”

“Yes.”

“But when you go to your mum, I don’t ask you for an account of your visit. It’s none of my business, you don’t have to give me an account of that. That’s between you and your mum.”

“So you’re lying to me? If you are not lying you’ll be able to give me a detailed account of your time at your parents home.”

I sensed yet another long stupid drawn out nonsensical argument. I swallowed my rising frustration and played along. I tried to recall as much as I could and be specific about my recount. I even managed to smile graciously though I felt far from gracious. I was being micro-managed and I hated it.

“. . . and that was it pretty much. Is that ok?”

“You’re lying to me.”

For the second time in my marriage I snapped. I was offended that he would call me a liar, outraged that he didn’t accept my account and irate that he had manipulated me. Again. I flew up and straddled him. I hit him with my fists. Pent up rage erupted from me, each blow issued with a scream of sheer exasperation. Within the fury my senses returned. In a split second I got off him and went to the furthest part of the bedroom. I felt sick. Sick because I, the self composed Byooti was capable of pure fury. I was ashamed because I had beaten my husband. He was still laying on the bed. We just stared at each other.

“Are you ok? Did I hurt you?” I asked.

“I’m ok.” He quietly said.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was so angry, I’m sorry.” Tears poured unrestrained. He held out his hand to me, and I went to him. I cried until I fell asleep.

One Sunday morning I was in the kitchen doing a cooked breakfast. Mr Impatient needed some information. A work colleague I knew would have the answer. Since it was Sunday, I offered to get the information at work the following day. He wanted it that day. I pointed out that though the information was important it wasn’t urgent. It could wait.

“Do you have his number?”

“No.”

“But you know how to get it?”

“Yes.”

“But you won’t get it for me?”

“Correct.”

“Why not?”

“It’s Sunday. He deserves to have his weekend, besides the information isn’t urgent. It can wait till tomorrow. “

He disagreed. He needed the information right away. He ranted and raved about the virtues of a good wife and how I didn’t fit the bill. Naturally he added some choice insults and put downs. I saw him grab some clothes and head through the door. I was angry but at least he was gone now. I shrugged my shoulders and continued frying the plantains. Some time passed and I wondered why I hadn’t heard the car start. The front door opened, he announced that I was right. It could wait. I didn’t bother to say anything. I put his breakfast on the table and with my own in hand, I headed to the bedroom.

“You’re not going to eat at the table with me?” He asked.

“No. I don’t wish to be in your company right now.”

“How come you have so much food on your plate? You eat like a pig.”

Without giving it a second thought I aimed the plate (food and all) towards him. Fortunately for him it slipped from my hand and smashed not to far from my feet. I glared at him then hurried to the bedroom to get dressed and leave. I was not putting up with him today.

Shortly after that incident I took a long look in the mirror. I didn’t recognise myself. I was becoming someone despicable, violent. I was neither of these things before I met him. I was loosing my identity. His toxicity was changing me. I didn’t like who I was becoming. It had to stop. I prayed and asked God to forgive me for becoming this ugly person. I had to find a way to manage my frustration without becoming physical because no doubt the tables would turn. What would I do then if he hit me back? I made a deliberate and proactive decision that day to never give in to the rage in a physical way again. I could not let my anger control me anymore.

If you are in an abusive relationship, retaliation always seems justifiable. In some ways it may feel like that because your perpetrator deliberately and systematically pushes those buttons to control your emotions. The problem is that physical retaliation will most likely escalate an already volatile situation. It really is time to leave. It’s that simple.

Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! Throw your arms around her- believe me, you won’t regret it, never let her go – she’ll make your life glorious. Proverbs 4: 6&7, The Message Bible.