|Posted on July 30, 2016 at 8:00 AM|
She gasped, her jaw dropping. “How can you say that?” Shelley stared incredulously at her husband. “I brought it on myself? Are you kidding me?”
He shrugged. “You go walking around in those tight exercise shorts, just begging some guy to have his way with you. Now that it's happened you want sympathy from me.”
“I can't believe you can turn this on me. I’m not the criminal here.”
“Admit it, Shelley, if you didn't think you shared some of the guilt why didn't you go to the police right away?”
She shook her head as the tears began to fall anew. “I– I was confused. I needed to get home before Bree came home from school. I needed to pick the boys up from after-school. I wanted to wait for you to get home. I needed you, Robert.” Wiping her face on her sleeve, she looked back up at him expectantly.
His mouth taut, he rolled his eyes. “Well, come on, then. Let’s go. You’ve waited so long they probably won’t believe you now. I’m not even sure I do.”
“Oh my God, are you saying I made this up?”
He shrugged again. “How did he subdue you? Did he hit you? Where are the bruises?”
Shelley could feel the blood drain from her face and she thought she might pass out. She hadn’t fought. Not much anyway. She’d frozen.
Shaking her head, she raised her eyes to her husband. “He, he pushed me down. He was so strong.” Noting her husband’s raised eyebrows she threw her hands in the air. “Do you think I’m doing this for attention?”
“Just get dressed and let’s go,” he answered as he turned to leave the bedroom.
She watched the door close. He didn't slam it. He never slammed anything. He was perfect. Mr. Perfect. She laid back across the bed, staring up at the ceiling. The sense of utter and complete loneliness threatened to engulf her. She'd thought she’d tell her husband what had transpired and he’d take her in his arms, hold her, comfort her, promise her everything would get better. Instead, he was acting like a total prick. She wanted to hate him, but she couldn’t let herself. After all, he was the father of her children.
But, oh, Robert, I needed you. I need someone. The emptiness of that thought jolted her. Had Robert ever been there for her when she needed him? Had her own parents? Her brothers? In so many ways, she suddenly realized, she was alone in the world.
Shelley rose and went to the window. It was dark outside now and with the light on behind her she could see nothing but her own image. Staring at her reflection, she mentally fought down the emotions, but the self hatred kept surfacing. I didn't even fight. I just laid there and let him do it. God, how weak. And now I'm standing here crying because my own husband doesn't even care.
She pulled the edge of her shirt up to wipe her tears then eyed herself in the glass once more. So what am I gonna do now? Am I gonna just lie down and take it? I already did that once today, she thought sarcastically, giving a slightly hysterical chuckle. Getting a grip, she shook her head. Why do I allow him to treat me like dirt? He treats me like I’m nothing.
And it struck her, penetrating her brain and lodging there. I don’t have to stick around and take this. I deserve more than this. I don’t have to stay. What makes me think I’m stuck here? I’m not. I can leave him. That would surprise you, wouldn't it, Robert? She sniffed, stood up straight, her mind now racing with the powerful ideas springing to life.
She realized she’d never really stopped to question how she feels. She’d simply been moving through life like it was a chore, her head down, obediently placing one foot in front of the other. She asked herself now, what do I feel? The answer was obvious. Miserable. She was miserable. And she’d been miserable for a long time. It reminded her of the time she’d been hiking with some friends as a teen and there was this pain in her foot. She’d walked with that pain most of the day before getting the idea to finally sit down and see what the heck is the problem. She’d taken off her shoe to find a small rock. Why hadn’t she looked earlier instead of walking all day with that pain? It was like a light going on. Robert had been a rock in her shoe, a source of pain and discomfort in her life. How did I let this go on for so long?
She drew a deep cleansing breath. This is about to change. Right here. Right now. I have a right to be happy. I am NOT going to just take it anymore. She wasn't sure if her thoughts were aimed at her husband or at the man who had stolen her dignity earlier that day. Actually, she acknowledged, both men had accomplished the same thing.
“I have a right to be happy,” she said aloud this time, and she realized as she spoke the words a transformation came over her. Declaring her intentions aloud not only felt really good, but seemed to spawn some magical occurrence. She felt exhilarated and strong and suddenly had a rock-hard resolve to obtain a goal.
The door opened briskly. “What are you doing? I said to get ready to go.”
What I’m doing, she thought as she slipped on her shoes, is waking up.
|Posted on July 27, 2016 at 9:00 AM|
How often are we the first ones to belittle our own selves? Shelley has been assaulted along the path of a nature trail and is trying to get back to her car.
As she walked, paranoia took over. She could swear he watched her, waited for her, behind every tree and shrub. Of course, she thought, he’d be long gone by now, wouldn't he? The trek to the clearing seemed to take an eternity. She’d thought she’d feel calmer once she'd made it out of the woods, but terror overtook her at the brink of a field of empty picnic tables.
She stared at her car, now the only one in the parking lot, which was on the other side of the picnic area, another eternity away. Was he watching? She stood motionless, minutes ticking by, watching from her place of cover, wishing she could just wiggle her nose and transport herself. No use wishing. Somehow she found the courage and dashed across the clearing, fumbled with the key, opened the door, climbed in and slammed the door behind her.
Once locked inside the relative safety of her little car, Shelley tilted the rearview mirror down and stared. The tear-streaked face of a stranger stared back. Images of what had just transpired flashed through her mind and with those images came nausea and despair and a terrible feeling of helplessness. She touched her face and the hysteria bubbled up. She wanted to scream and cry and– and– what? Hurt him back? Yeah, she did. She wanted to hurt him. She wanted to make him feel what she felt. The indignity, the shame, all topped with the most debilitating fear she’d ever felt in her life. Utter devastation.
How could she have let this happen? How does a man think he can assault a woman in broad daylight and get away with it? Well, of course he thought he could– he just did. She hadn't even tried to fight, had she? Not really. She'd made it easy for him. That man was walking around at this very minute, a greasy smirk on his face, smiling and speaking to his friends or family as if nothing had happened. As if he hadn’t just destroyed her world. The thought forced the scream from her lungs. Shouting, she pounded the steering wheel, finally giving vent to all the turmoil she felt.
The van pulling up beside her, teenagers spilling out, music blaring, brought her to her senses. School was out. She had to get going. Taking slow, deep, breaths to calm herself, she quieted, glancing back up at the mirror as she wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Get a grip,” she whispered to herself. “Come on now, get a grip, you wimp.” Sniffing, she turned the ignition and started home.