“Why do you make him be mean to you?” the little boy asked his mother. The door had slammed and she had locked it, and she crumbled to the floor in tears, back against the locked door, and that’s where the little boy found her. He stood there in front of his crying mother and asked her the question only an innocent child could ask.
“Wha. . . What?”
“Why do you make him be mean to you? Why do you make him say those mean things?”
Nothing had ever hit her so hard in her life. His question was like a punch in the gut.
“Baby, you were supposed to be asleep?” She answered without answering, running the heels of her hands across her cheeks to dry the tears and pushing herself to her feet.
He was two. How the hell could she answer that question to him. . .
So instead she diverted his attention to a snack.
But she didn’t stop thinking about his question.
And that’s when she knew she was done. That she was done for good.
She knew she wasn’t the cause of this. At least, not the root cause. She didn’t “make him be mean to her.” He was just. . . Mean.
However, she let him be mean to her. And that was damn near as bad. She had grown up around abuse, knew first hand what abuse was. Abuse wasn’t always black eyes. Sometimes, abuse is hidden. No one walking by you on the street may know you’re a victim of abuse.
Maybe you don’t even know you’re a victim of abuse.
Until your little boy is standing in front of you asking you why.
“Why do you make him be mean to you?”
Because. Because I have no one to go to, no one to lean on.
Because. Because I’m not smart enough to make it without him.
Because. Because no one else will want me.
Because. Because giving up isn’t an option. And once we have a better house/more money/a better life he won’t be so mean.
All things she had told herself. All things that he had led her to believe.
What happened to the girl who was going to just up and travel to a strange city and make a go of it on her own? The girl who intentionally planned to do exactly what she was afraid to do now, as a grown woman?
She looked at the little boy happily eating apple slices and watching cartoons and knew. Not that he had impeded her in any way. But she had more to think about than herself.
Which was just another reason why. Why this cycle ended today.
She would not allow her son to grow up thinking that this was the norm, that this was her fault.
She would not wait for it to get worse. Because that’s how things go. It gets worse before women gain their senses.
She would not be that woman.
She would show her son about respect. For oneself and for others. She would show him about pride. And strength. And perseverance. Just because she was a member of the “weaker sex” didn’t mean she was weak.
And maybe it was going to be hard. And scary. And lonely.
But if there was one thing she had to choose to do in this life, it would be to raise her son to be a decent human being. She’d face down demons for that boy if it came to it.
But first, she needed to conquer her own.