I’m a real wimp when it comes to seeing blood or hearing about the deep emotional pain of others. I have trouble watching movies about the holocaust or documentaries about the civil rights movement and when the Biography channel airs profiles of serial killers, I delete them from the menu on my DVR without a second glance.
So naturally, you’d think I’d be hard pressed to watch a show called “I Survived”. But somehow when I accidentally landed there, while channel surfing, I couldn’t look away. Usually, I would be a real Nancy-boy (I apologize to any of you Nancys out there for using your name in this way) and get all squeamish and nauseated when watching such a thing. But I was inexplicably drawn in. “We live out in the country and it’s usually real peaceful out there,” the once tortured woman began, the music of dread and terror building behind her. “And it was the middle of the night and real quiet as usual. But then the dogs started to bark that weird bark that lets you know something’s wrong.” Oh yeah… ”So I got out of bed and there he was, a tall man with a shotgun pointed right at me. I heard the blast but I wasn’t sure what had happened…” And from there, she probably went on, but I did not. Watching, that is. This got me to thinking about what I’d do if I were confronted with a man in my home who was trying to kill me. And then I thought. Hey wait a minute. I WAS confronted with a man in my home who was trying to kill me! Except, hey wait another minute…that was the man I was married to. And I think, Hell! I survived that! I faced the unimaginable and lived to tell the tale. So, a guy with a gun? Ha! That was child’s play! Because, for me, it wasn’t so much a question of whether or not I was going to lose my life; it went deeper than that. I felt like my husband was trying to steal my essence, my life force and the very thing that mattered above all else-my very soul.
Now, to some of you this may sound a bit over-the-top and melodramatic but I can’t think of any other way to describe it. I felt flattened and two dimensional at the end; so pulled asunder from myself that I barely knew who I was anymore. But I remember the moment when I turned it all around; my survival moment, if you will, as if it were yesterday. And it all came down to a surge of adrenaline so powerful, that it almost lifted me out of my strappy sandals and through the roof. I remember the time and place; the moment is that clear.
There he was nattering on and on about how I wasn’t thin enough for him and how he hated what I was wearing or something equally stupid and offensive. He was at one end of the living room and I was at the other and suddenly, I got so angry that I felt as if I had risen to twice my height, like some shape-shifting witch. I threw my arms out and fixed a furious gaze on him, which was really frightening, evidently, because he took a giant step backwards, staring at me like I was a force to be reckoned with. “You have no right to speak to me that way,” my suddenly deep and powerful voice hurled his way. “And if you ever do so again, you will be truly and deeply sorry!” It was amazing. I felt like I was filling the room like one of those cartoon apparitions whose shadow on the wall just grows and grows until it virtually fills the space. “All right…” he managed to eak out as he backed out of the door.
That night was the beginning of the end: the end of my marriage and the beginning of a new life unfolding. I survived. And in doing so, I recognized something. I had a strength that had seemed unimaginable to that point; I had no idea I had that much fight in me or so much personal power. But that’s why I’m here to tell the tale. Looking back now I can see that in that moment I was able to find my way out of the tangled jungle of my marriage and live to see another day. And as far as I can tell, it was simply a case of survival of the fittest; nothing more and nothing less.