Generally lately, I treat this space like a diary, something to look back on. There are you precious few who take interest in the little fish bowl which I swim in. You gift me with your time reading what I write. You sometimes reach out with a comment, and that means a lot to me. Some know the part of my life that I’ll share today. Those who were rocks in the the storm of that time will always be appreciated. Some were subjected to part of the horror and pain, I am partly responsible for that, and I’m sorry that you suffered the fall out from my poor choices. I go weeks, months and sometimes years barely thinking about that time. Now it matters again because we are the sum of our experiences.
Some of you are angry at the position that I’m currently taking, or just think I’m crazy. Thankfully I am blessed to have a husband who is on the same page as me. When I express a thought, most often I find that he has been thinking the same thing. What others choose during these times, is no business of mine, although I worry about loved ones.
Where I’m coming from : In my teens and early 20s I judged abused women. I thought that they were weak and in some way inferior. There’s something rather trashy about physical abuse. I was better and smarter than those silly, pitiful creatures. One night I went to a live music event at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof. In the smoky atmosphere, I watched a musician play the piano with jaw dropping skill. Len looked like Patrick Swayze, I was enchanted. We started dating.
I was 27 and he was 17 years my senior. He was a professional musician, a one man band. I loved attending his gigs, those were really good times. He charmed me and his audience. I knew that he had been accused of domestic violence. I believed his side of the story. The first incident that I remember was him throwing an ashtray in my direction when I interrupted a phone call. I didn’t give it much thought, I had annoyed him and it missed anyway.
We moved in together. I was happy most of the time. I liked our life. I loved his amazingly creative and interesting family. I bought a small house, it was in my name but the budget was based on our 2 incomes. We were engaged to be married and it would have been shared down the line. Slowly, in the smallest ways he broke me down. It happened by fractions. I don’t remember the first time he hit me, or how many times that happened. There was a family violence interdict. He breached the terms of that. When he hit me in front of my children, I had to end the relationship. There was a court case, he was found guilty and given a suspended sentence. The relationship lasted 4 years. It took a very long time to heal. After he moved out, for many months he continued to stalk, follow, harass and terrorize me until I moved from Natal to Gauteng. Things got a lot worse before they got better.
Why share this now? This experience taught me to recognise the path of abuse. At first sight Len was a gifted, charismatic, good looking guy. There was no line in the sand crossed in one defining moment. There were scattered infringements into the realm of the unacceptable. In our current world, I’m seeing clear and obvious mental and psychological abuse by those in power. Every fiber of my being is screaming that this is wrong. I will not be a victim. I will push back with every ounce of my being. Hypothetically if I had a choice between life with Len and the abusers currently in power who have robbed us of so much and relentlessly continue breaking the spirits of nations, I would choose him, at least that version of hell had a good soundtrack. I’m trusting my gut instinct and holding onto my faith in God. To those dear to me, you don’t have to agree with me, I wish that we were walking the same road side by side, but your choices are not mine. We stand to loose much but will not go gently into that bad night.