Don’t feel sorry for me. I didn’t ask for your pity and I certainly don’t need it. Remove that sorrowful look in your eyes, and get your caring hand off of my shoulder. I know you don’t agree with my choice to stay with Adam, but it’s my choice. You think I’m some stupid, sheepish, stereotype of a broken woman that needs your help to save me. Float on by with your pretentious lifeboat because I don’t want it. I can swim on my own and make it to where I need to go without your help. I hear about other women whose husbands cheat on them, leave them no food in the house, gamble their rent money, and all kinds of other horrible things.
Adam has a quick temper and can say some cruel things sometimes, but he’s a hard worker, a wonderful father, and provides for our family. He works extra jobs or overtime when asked, he goes grocery shopping for his mom every Sunday, and is a coach on our son’s soccer team. He isn’t perfect, but no one is. Yes, his harsh words can hurt more than his fists sometimes, but wounds heal. I’m strong and don’t need anyone to tell me how to care for me or my son, Sammy.
My parents don’t visit our house much anymore. They attend all of Sammy’s soccer games and will take him out for pizza afterwards. Mom and dad always ask me to come, but I decline. If they can’t get along with Adam, then I can’t be with them. I get tired of their lectures and always offering to “help me” get away from him. There is nothing to get away from. I am content. I am where I need to be. It’s been weeks since Adam has raised his hand to me. I’ll admit, the last time was bad. I think it scared both of us. I remember I had fallen asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home from work.
“Hey, you didn’t have to wait up,” Adam said as he walked over to the couch and caressed my face.
“It’s ok,” I quickly sat up. “Let me get you something to eat.” Adam followed me into the kitchen. He grabbed a soda out of the fridge and sat at the kitchen table. I took the leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and veggies from the fridge. I positioned everything on the plate exactly how Adam likes it and carefully put the plate in the microwave.
“How was your day?” I asked sincerely.
“Good. Eric called in sick again which is friggin annoying, but I picked up some overtime,” Adam wiped his brow.
“That’s great. Maybe we can buy Sammy his new shin guards this weekend,” I said as I walked over to the silverware drawer.
“What?” Adam said in a disapproving tone. I could already tell where this was going.
“Um, Sammy needs new shin guards for soccer. His other ones are pretty bad. We talked about it last week, remember?” I said soothingly. I remember not wanting to escalate the situation, especially with Sammy asleep in the house.
“Goddamn. We spend more money on that kid than anything. I work my friggin ass off and have nothing to show for it. Between you and him, there is nothing left for me. For once, I would like to have something for me!” Adam slammed his fists against the kitchen table. The sound was louder than I expected. I hope it didn’t wake up Sammy.
“I know, I’m sorry,” I said as I took the plate out of the microwave and walked over to the kitchen table.
I gently placed the dish on the table and took a few steps back.
Adam shouted, “Fuck! Meatloaf. Seriously? We just had meatloaf last week. Can’t we get some different food for once. You need to work on your cooking skills. I work 12 hours a day and can’t even come home to a decent dinner!” He threw the plate against the wall. “Fuck!” Adam yelled and walked into the living room.
I followed him.
“I’m sorry. Let me make you something else.”
He turned around and just stared at me. Adam’s eyes looked black and his mouth was quivering. His appearance startled me. I almost didn’t recognize him. Sweat was gathering at his brow again and his hair looked like it needed to be washed. I felt like a gazelle staring at a hungry cheetah. I was frozen; careful not to make any sudden moves to provoke him.
“Don’t fucking bother. I don’t ask for much and you can’t even make me a decent dinner!”
We stared into each other’s eyes.
I regrettably broke the silence.
“I’m sorry.” I held my head down in shame.
“You’re always sorry. I’m tired of your sorries; I’m tired of your cooking, and I’m fucking just tired of you!”
Tears started to uncontrollably flow from my eyes.
“Oh, great. Here come the water works. I’m the mean son of a bitch. I know. I have to feel sorry for you and then that will be it. Stop crying. Stop your fucking crying right now!”
I wiped the tears from my face as fast as I could. Adam suddenly grabbed each of my shoulders and pushed me into the wall.
“Am I a good husband?” He spit in my face as he asked his question.
“Yes, of course,” I mumbled.
“Am I a good provider?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Then why do you treat me like this. Why can’t you just take care of me like a good wife should?”
I stood there trying to hold back the tears again.
“Why!” Adam shouted as he hit my head against the wall.
“Tell me why you are such a bad wife. I treat you well. You don’t work. You do whatever you want to do all day while I bust my fucking ass!” Adam slammed my head against the wall again. This time it felt much harder and an incredible headache was setting in. Adam grabbed my throat and started choking me. I struggled to keep my eyes open as I felt myself losing consciousness. All of the sudden I heard “Mom!” Hearing Sammy’s voice hit me like a cold shower. I opened my eyes and saw Adam staring down at me with rage I had never seen before. When he yelled at Adam to go back to bed, I summoned all of the strength I had left, pried my hands free, and scratched the hell out of Adam’s face. He stepped back and yelped in pain like an injured animal.
“Fucking bitch!” Adam took a step closer like he was going in for the kill, but changed his mind and walked to the kitchen instead. My sweet Sammy helped me to the bathroom. He retrieved the first aid kit and helped assess my injuries. He was only 9 years old, but has done this too many times to count. He wants to be a doctor so he can help people. I encourage him and tell him he can be whatever he wants to be, and I will always love him.
“Mommy, it was bad this time,” Sammy whispered as he helped me put dressing on my wounds.
“I know, baby. I know. I’m sorry. You were supposed to put your headphones on, remember? I told you to put them on whenever you hear daddy yelling.”
“I’m sorry mom, I know. But even with the headphones on I could still hear him.”
I hugged Sammy and we just held each other for a few wonderful, quiet moments. Sammy helped me to bed. He fluffed my pillows and gave me the water bottle from his room. He was afraid to go into the living room or kitchen in case Adam was still on the warpath. It was silent now, so Adam probably fell asleep on the couch. Sammy gave me a kiss on the cheek and went to bed. I felt like he was the parent tucking me into bed. Adam would never hurt Sammy, but I do worry about when Sammy gets older. Sammy has already shown signs of wanting to defend me from Adam. If Sammy gets in his way, I don’t know what Adam will do. Hopefully, it will never come to that. The next morning Adam came into the room before sunrise and sat on the bed. He gently grabbed my hand and apologized for last night. He had tears in his eyes and expressed his wholehearted regret. Later that day, I received flowers from Adam. He also texted me from work that he loved me and would pick-up pizza for dinner tonight. We ate pizza, played a board game, and watched the news before bedtime. Adam read Sammy a bedtime story and then came to bed with me about an hour later. Those are the best nights. The nights I look forward to. I love Adam and Sammy more than anything, and all I want is to be the best wife and mother.