Teela Hart

Surviving Domestic Violence

gun


23 Comments

One of Our Sons


The definition of faith according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the belief with strong conviction in a system of religious beliefs; belief and trust in and loyalty to God.

Lofty and boisterous, the pastor’s voice boomed through the silent congregation.  “God protects us, He protects our children.”

The church phone rings, the pastor, unaffected, continues his discourse.

Mary runs to answer the phone.  “Nooooooo!!!”  Her cries guttural and agonizing.

I leapt from my seat and ran to Mary discovering her collapsed on the floor, her words incoherent.

“What Mary, I screamed, what happened!?”

“He’s been shot!”  “He’s been shot in the head!”

“Who!?”  “Who’s been shot!?”

“David!”

The carefully laid foundation of my faith came crashing down like thunder rolling across a stormy sky.  My world was spinning, everything around me faded away, my legs failed me and I tumbled onto the floor alongside Mary.  My lungs were in a vice, I could not breathe.  There are no words to describe the grief that consumed me.

Within seconds, which seemed like hours, the congregation surrounded us trying to uncover the cause of the terror that had disabled us.  Their words reverberated as if through water, I could not comprehend what they were saying.  My vision was blurred; I could hear my heartbeat in my ears.  I was in a perpetual state of complete confusion.  My words stifled by something I cannot explain.

“God, God, God, where are you!?”  I bellowed as Jon carried me out of the church.

The visitor’s room was cold and unappealing.  Mary with her tear stained face sat across from me moving back in forth in her chair chanting repeatedly, “God please let him live, God please let him live.”

Karen, her eyes dilated and swollen, sat beside me with the look of shock on her face.

David’s parents (my brother and sister-in-law) were out of town and had been notified, however, had not yet arrived.

The heaviness in the room was crippling as we awaited the doctor’s arrival.

Heart wrenching cries filled the air, hopelessness governed, and an impenetrable fog settled over my mind as the wait for word on David’s condition lingered on.

I could tell by his countenance that once again, wails of pain were about to rush from the room and into the sterile halls of the emergency department.

“I am so sorry, we have done an EEG (electroencephalogram) and the results show there is no brain activity whatsoever.  He is an organ donor; therefore, we will need to transfer him to Duke Hospital for further preparation.  We have him prepared for visitors now if you would like to see him.  You can go in two at a time.”.

David was 23 years old.  He and his girlfriend had been fighting.  Now David is dead.

I discovered that day that my faith had been misplaced.  I had naively and eagerly deposited it in the hands of a God who neither protected me from Jon nor David from Candy.  And as it stands, one of our sons is dead.

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Caged


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Caged


 My witness today is only the beginning of my great exodus.

Spending many hours in the emergency room was nothing new; however, this would be the last time the visit would be on a gurney instead of standing along side one, caring for patients. 

“Dr. Spade” sauntered into the room. He adjusted his silver, wire rimmed glasses causing his crisp, white, lab coat to tug upward distorting his name printed in blue script.  His brow furrowed as he breathed in, and let out a long deliberate sigh.  It was then that my countenance took an unrecoverable nosedive; shame shrouded me like a heavy blanket, the weight of which was unbearable.  The cause of my injury was not only indelible in my mind but in my medical chart as well.

The wait, following the MRI, was excruciating; worry over the extent of my injury overwhelmed me and it was all I could do to maintain my composure.

I could tell by the look on Dr. Spade’s face that the results were not good, as once again he let out a deep sigh.  “I’m afraid, my dear, that the MRI results show that you have a significant avulsion (separation) of the network of nerves (the brachial plexus) that conducts signals from your spine to your arm, shoulder and hand, causing the paralysis.” 

In complete brokenness, I recalled to myself, the events that led me to the hospital.

That morning was no different from any other; the ritual of debasement, offhanded comments about my housekeeping skills, and the inability to care for my children permeated the morning silence with a thunderous clap.

 “Let’s go, let’s go!  You gotta take me to work this mornin’ and I can’t afford to be late.”

I donned my jeans and a T-shirt swiftly to avoid any other outbursts; headed out the door and made my way to the car.

Bewildered by the early morning tantrum, I rested my head against the passenger window trying to recount, in my mind, what had made him unleash his fury this time but the cause had once again evaded my capture.

Sensing my inward, guttural disdain, he abruptly skidded the car to the shoulder of the road and brought it to a screeching, halt.  Instinctively I flinched as he clutched my neck with his leathery hand, simultaneously clouting my head against the passenger window.  He then shoved my head downward, between my legs with such force that I could hear the vertebrae in my neck pop and grind in my ears, and just as quickly as he attacked, he retreated, releasing his grasp.    

“You will drive home right now!  You will clean the house; make yourself presentable and you better not be late pickin’ me up!  Do you understand me?  We’ll fuckin’ finish this when I get home!”  To drive his point home he squeezed my left arm with the force of a vice grip before getting back onto the road.  In the parking lot, at his place of employment, he gently kissed my cheek before exiting the car as his co-workers passed by.

An unimaginable fear overwhelmed me when I realized that my right arm would not obey the mental command to open the car door.  Therefore, I maneuvered over the console and into the driver’s seat.  Manipulating the gears, the steering wheel, the gas and the brake was a monstrous undertaking considering my arm was numb and my body was quaking.

  He called incessantly that day to make sure I had been performing my “wifely” duties and to inform me that he had a ride home after work.

When he finally did arrive home, he took notice of the unkempt house, the unkempt kids and me.  He flew into a rage, and barreled toward me with all the ferocity of an F5 tornado.  Our eyes locked and the only thing I could see was the blazing fire of hell contained within.  Attempting an escape into the hallway proved futile; grabbing my injured arm he yanked me toward him and hurled me into the wall with such force the closed doors in the hallway rattled.  Any insult he may have hurled in my direction fell on deaf ears.  The only thing I could remember was the onslaught of abuse, and the unprecedented desire to escape his grasp with my life.  

Dr. Spade, turned around and looked me squarely in the eyes, “you don’t deserve this Teela, you have to get out and move on, that man could have snapped your neck like a twig and if that had happened, I would be pronouncing you dead right now.”

Outrigger

Outrigger

Leaving the hospital with an hideous splint was depressing and degrading.  On my return home I never received an apology and my children were informed by Jon, the injury was the result of a delayed reaction from an auto accident I had been in nine months prior.  They believed him.

The echo of Dr. Spade’s words, pierced what was left of my soul and I conceded.  It was time to open the door to my cage and walk out and that is exactly what I did.  I was recaptured nine months later; the door slammed shut behind me and my treacherous descent into the abyss soon followed.