Friday, July 17, 2009

A new deadly sin added to the list

I don't feel like smiling today. I don't feel like being charming today. I don't feel like talking very much today. I don't feel like being me today but I thought maybe, just maybe, if I put it down into words, things will be normal again.

My phone rings at half past three this morning. It's my niece, crying so much I can hardly make out what she's trying to say. She's four years old, turning five in December. All I can make out is: "Come! Come help! Mommy is hurt!"
I just grabbed my keys and jumped in the car. My sister's house is about three minutes from mine. I got there in twenty one seconds.

The door was wide open with my niece standing there. I picked her up and tried to calm her down because she was still crying uncontrollably, locked the door (it is South Africa after all) and made my way through the house looking for my sister, praying that there's no blood for both our sakes as we kind of faint every time we see it.

I found my sister in the living room, sitting on a couch and as pale as a piece of dough.
"What the hell is going on here? What happened? Where's the baby?" I asked. The latest addition to our family had her first birthday a month ago and just started walking. She's the joy of the family and can get away with murder by just flashing us a little smile.

"Anke's fine. She's sleeping in our room."

When my sister looked up, I knew what had happened.

"Where the fuck is that coward!"
"Auntie M, we're not allowed to say the f-word! Jesus is watching, remember," my niece warned me through her tears. What a time to bring up Jesus and morals with my sister's face looking like a blue balloon already.

"I'm phoning Jacques." My brother. Kind of hardcore, but with an unmeasured love for his family. If think he knows a guy who has an uncle who has a friend that is a mobster. He'll be sure to make it as painful as possible.

"No, just leave them out of this. I didn't even want you to know, but Elske has your number on speed dial on her phone."

For the first time I'm actually grateful my sister spoils her children so rotten. I got my first cell phone when I was seventeen. My niece got hers when she was two and could barely hold it properly. My sister's phone, on the other hand, is lying on the floor next to the couch in a million little pieces. At least my sister is still in one piece. Always something to be grateful for.

I looked at my niece, lying with her head on my shoulder and a frown on her face. I gave a big yawn.
"Wow, I'm like SUPER tired now. Can I lie down in your bed for a while until I fall asleep?"
She smiled and nodded and ten minutes later she was asleep, although a little restless, cluctching my hand. Normal under these circumstances?

"Just tell me what happened, please?" I insisted when I got back to the living room.

Apparently they had an argument about where he put his watch (that he never wears) and he blamed it on their maid again insisting she stole it and should be fired. My sister told him he probably misplaced it, AGAIN, and to just have a look in his study as she's not going to fire the maid: she's the fourth one they got this month and it's only the sixteenth!

"That made him furious. Maybe it's the way I said it. Maybe he was right and the maid did steal it. It was stupid of me to disagree."

My mouth fell open in disbelief. Was I hearing right?! Is she actually trying to defend a fucking wife beater? You need to know this about my sister: she's a quiet, but strong woman. She needs to be in her career as financial adviser. She has an open hand and mind (mostly!) and supports numerous charities. She is funny, pretty (although she doesn't think so) a great mother and highly intelligent. Except when it comes to men, I guess.

"Was this the first time something like this has happened?"
Silence has always been an astonishing answer.

I'm reading this book about the seven deadly sins. I've just added another one to the list: beating your wife to a pulp and taking away her pride, her selfesteem, her selfrespect = punishable in any way the family of the wife sees fit. Hell seems like a holiday resort for him at this stage.

We just sat there. We waited. What she waited for I don't know, but I was waiting for the dickhead to come back so I could fucking crack him. We didn't speak. We didn't cry. We just sat there. I eventually got up and put the kettle on. Coffee always helps. And after we had coffee, we just sat there again. For the first time in a long time I heard the birds announce the sun's arrival. A new day.

Somehow I still can't believe this has happened. I mean, we're not a Jerry Springer-family (or his muscle, Steve, who took over now). We're a happy family, we're a loving family, we're a normal family. But last night something changed. We'll never be the same again.


Sally-Sal said...

It's never really the people you'd expect to be abusers, and the people you'd never in your wild dreams expect to be victims.

All you can do is be there for her. Be supportive. The rest is up to her.

I hope things work out.

JennyMac said...

Truly awful...and he better hope your brother doesnt have a friend of a friend of a mobster. Sorry to hear this....and glad she has you.

Eric said...

That is absolutely the most horrible thing I've read this month I think. I sincerely hope she can get out for her sake and her daughter's.

In Texas, if a man was hitting a woman in the face, she would be within her rights to remove him from the gene pool with those guns we all carry.

ladytruth said...

Sally Sal: at this stage I just hope for a miracle in the sense that her eyes open before it's too late.

JennyMac: I checked with my brother. And he does. On speed dial.

Eric: I wish we stayed in Texas: seems like a sensible place to be. And my update for the day is: no, she is not leaving him. He promised it was the "last time." She believes him. I don't.

Listen people: thank you so much for your comments and responses. It may not seem that way but just by writing something to this post, you somehow made me feel that I'm not alone in this episode-I-don't-have-a-clue-how-to-handle. Thank you for "listening."

Madame DeFarge said...

What a time to read your blog for the first time. I can't imagine what your sister (and her family) are going through, but so many DV victims take so long to do anything about it because it's always the last time. It makes me despair about what we're willing to out up with in the name of 'love'.

otherworldlyone said...

My mother was that woman, with two little girls, getting beaten and making excuses. It doesn't stop. If your sister can't be strong for herself, I hope she can be strong for her children.

It can be a hard situation to get out of, sure, but it only gets harder the longer you wait.

ladytruth said...

otherwordlyone: during my third year of Psychology I saw it happen so many times. The excuses, the apologies, the tears, the threats, the fear. But 75% of those woman said they would stay for the sake of their children than let them go through a messy divorce.

But tell me this: is watching your mother being beaten to death worse easier than a divorce? Is having to explain to your best friend she can't sleep over because maybe Daddy gets angry about something again, better than a divorce? Is the tension at family gatherings where everyone looks at you with sympathetic eyes easier than a divorce?

What I'm rambling on about here, I've said to her so many times my throat hurts. But it's her life and I can only say and do so much. At least as the godmother I have the girls stay over quite often. Thank God for that.

otherworldlyone said...

No. None of that is better than a "messy divorce".

My mother never had the balls to leave my dad. He finally left her for another woman after 24 years of shit. It's one of my "issues"...that I never forgave her for staying. She said that she was too afraid to leave and she thought it was better financially for us anyway.

Thankfully for my daughter, I know the difference between better and worse in that department.

I'm glad those girls have you. Often the only thing that kept me sane growing up was having somewhere else to go. You can't do any more that what you're doing.

ladytruth said...

otherworldlyone: Thanks for your kind words; someday we should get together with a bottle of Jack and have a drink on women that are stronger and women that know better thanks to all the shit they had to deal with growing up.

Your daughter is lucky in the sense that she'll never have to go through what you did during your childhood. That's always something to be grateful for, right? Good on you, girlfriend ;)