Last night my period started, this morning I put my essentials in a bag, grabbed my dog, got in my car and drove nowhere in particular as the destination. My life is a mess. I’m a wreck. Current diet: whatever I can get with my dog in the car. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, fast food, heart clogging food. Soda, coffee, fries. You got a pup cup? Damn, Starbucks has a pup cup. That’s okay, give me a vanilla cone. We share.
Saturday night I lost it after years of being told I was nothing, digging my mail out of the trash, reformatting my documents, looking in the mirror to see if I was as old, ugly, stupid, crazy as he made me feel. Was I anything at all? Sometimes I’d pray for guidance, just keep me alive. But don’t make me feel.
I told him to go. He told me to go. But the kids . . . I stayed all these years for them. Did everything, for them. How can I leave? I stood firm. Okay, you’re right. I’m crazy, I’m wrong, I’m the bad guy. Please, just leave. This is the moment I feared. That violent change of seasons where the wind and rain and electricity come together to battle. I’d held it together so long, like a Mentos in a two-liter of diet coke. This is the moment I dreaded but knew had to come. He’d raged over the cat. Raged and raged. Stormed through the house, accused, thrashed, threatened. Death, hatred, vile, vile creature. Memories of my father’s rages came back to me: the time he threw beer cans at the kitchen wall and said Satan was making him miss the trash can. The time he held my stepbrother upside down, baby food shoved in their mouth, and smacked their diapered bottom full force. That fear of not helping, of doing nothing, of being complacent, yet fear of my own death—and now that of my children as well as pets. I stood in the backroom, body drained with shock, head filled with angst. No more. No more. Toxic. We all die in this anyway. Please leave. I stood firm, and won. He leaves and I call the cops. The next day my kids help me change the locks.
A few moments before the fight, after his rage and before my reaction, I walk out and he verbally taunts me. What’s wrong with you? I do something wrong? Him, him it’s all him. I turn around. A million women fly out of me. GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE NOW, NOW, RIGHT NOW. He stands up, comes at me.
Then the war.
I’ve lived Vietnam. And survived.
You, sir, are my Vietnam. I hid in the trenches, mud on my face, leaves in my hair, itching, burning, stinging, awaiting end.
You were the Ak-47, words as bullets. The oppressive invisible assault of fear flung at me daily. And now I had to face the front.
You can only hide so long. You can only hide your own bullets so long. At some point you have to leap, like a fawn, from the trenches and fight the motherfucker who’s held you hostage.
But now that it’s over, and the dance of life has sprung into a new pirouette, now that I’ve blown my cover--it’s frightening. And you know it. And I know it.
This is where you’ll find a new leverage to haunt me. But do I hide again?
Even Nixon, that smiling snake, ended Vietnam. At some point we have to lay down our arms and move forth. Not together. As two opposite continents with a peace treaty.
I'm in this car. Avoiding. Because there's no trust in war. Or peace. The master keeps coming around and I have to flee. Because that's how you do it.