The Most Important Day of my Life, by Tammy Rochester

            There have been many events throughout my life that I would consider important. For instance, the day I was born, the days my children were born, or the day I got my dream job were all very important facets in my life. But there is one day that sticks out in my mind that takes priority over all these other events. The day I am thinking about was a virtual turning point for me, making me the person I am today. This was the day I left the man I was supposed to be with forever, the father of my children, my husband.

            Some friends wonder why I still consider this to be an important time in my life and wonder why I just don’t forget about it. There were very many reasons behind my actions on this day. The reason that takes top priority is that I no longer felt safe. Actually, I had not felt safe, appreciated, or loved in a very long time leading up to this day. The events of this day had been a long time coming, like a spark that slowly lights into a full blown blaze of rampant fire. My only regret is that I wish this day would have come about sooner than it did.

            This day started out as any other Saturday. I woke up early, gently removing the covers so as not to disturb his sleep. I slowly crept into the kitchen, paying close attention to every step I took, so the floorboards would not creak, careful not to make even the slightest noise. As I was standing in the middle of the kitchen I had a horrible dilemma going on in my mind. Should I chance turning the light on and start cooking breakfast? Maybe not, it will make too much noise. But if the food isn’t ready when he does get up he will be really angry.

            Filled with anxiety and wondering what I should do, I leaned back against the counter and accidentally sent a glass flying through the air. I watched as the glass took on an almost slow motion effect falling to its fate and shattering into a million tiny shards on the hard linoleum.

            I thought to myself, “Oh no! What have I done?”

            Just then I heard a rustling coming from my bedroom. I knew then that what I had tried so hard not to do, I did. I had woken him up. I heard his feet hit the floor as he jumped out of bed. I heard him quickly walking towards the kitchen, chasing down the sound that had awoken him. I urgently and clumsily started reaching for the broom and dustpan. I immediately started sweeping up the broken glass, while thinking if that I just looked really busy, he wouldn’t be that mad. Too late.

            Before I knew it I felt an unsympathetic hand strike the left side of my face, spinning me almost full circle, leaving me reeling in pain. I knew he was yelling something about how wrong it was that I woke him up, but I had so much fear running through my veins I could not make out his exact words. As much as I wished, I knew this would not be the end of this situation. I knew he would not just go back to bed. I never expected him to say “sorry” because he never apologized for striking me in the past, but if only he would go back to bed, things would be fine. He did not go back to bed on this Saturday morning. He was not done with me yet.

            He kept on ranting and raving about how I had no respect for him and his peace and quiet. He grabbed me by the back of my hair and proceeded to slam my face on the same counter I knocked the glass off of. With his grasp still tight on the back of my head, he hurled me into the shelves across the kitchen that held our canned goods and dry food. Crash! I flew face first into the shelves and then sank to the floor along with the cans and jars from the shelves.

            Here I sat, crying, frightened, and humiliated covered in spaghetti sauce and glass sticking up out of my face and arms. But then something happened. I felt a feeling I had not had in a very long time. Anger. Where was this feeling coming from? I knew I was getting ready to say something, even though in the past when these incidents took place I was too afraid to speak because if I did not comply the beating would be worse. So I kept my mouth shut all those times before this day. I felt the words roll off of my tongue before I could stop myself from getting into more trouble.

            “You will never hit me again!” I could see the rage in his eyes as he started towards me with a horrible scowl on his face. He made his way to me through the mess that now lay about the kitchen floor. This scene also seemed to have a slow motion, dreamlike effect about it. As he ferociously reached down to pull me up and punish me some more, thoughts of the last thirteen years flashed through my mind. The bruises, the broken bones, the blood, the physical and emotional pain, and all the other horrible things he did to hurt me throughout our marriage made me want to vomit right then and there. How could I have let this happen? Why didn’t I leave long ago?

            As his hand got closer to me I blocked it away. He then had a look of confusion on his face because I had never fought back before. The confusion did not last long, though, the rage appeared in his eyes once more as he grabbed me by the neck. I somehow wriggled away from the hold he had on me. I then relayed the words I had spoken just moments earlier, “You will never hit me again!”

            He laughed devilishly and lunged towards me once more. This time I was no longer afraid of this monster. I felt a tremendous amount of power building up in my small frame, where it was coming from, I have not a clue. I lunged back towards him, my strength fueled by pure adrenaline, I reached up and grabbed him by the neck. With this new found power I threw him across the room which is an amazing feat, as I am only five foot three and weigh 125 pounds compared to his six foot three, 200 pound frame. But I did it, and with phone in hand I called the police as he sat dumbfounded on the floor staring at me.

            I walked out of that house of scary secrets that Saturday morning with a renewed sense of hope.

            The sun was shining as I walked with my children to our car. The knot that had been in my stomach for the last thirteen years loosened a bit. I felt strong. I felt happy. For the first time in many years I could smile and most importantly, I was proud of myself. I couldn’t wait to start my new life!

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