I’ve said the wrong thing, again. This is unbeknownst to me as the words slide casually out of my mouth. Quickly I become aware of my mistake and I flinch as his words start flying at me. Sharp as daggers, slicing and dicing the skin of my soul. Another mistake on my part, it seems. And another meal for his ravenous psychosis.
It is always a small comment I cannot clearly recall after the storm. But it is undoubtedly something simple that brings the rain. Maybe a comment on the fabric of my new blouse, asking if he is hungry for dinner, asking does he like lemon pie (I seem to have forgot, silly stupid me), exhaling too loud after a long drag on my cigarette, or the ultimate disgrace of eating anything that makes a crunching sound. Things that I say and do every day that I never really think about until it is too late. The extra fun zinger being that I never know when or what will bring out his tornado of fury. I may do something all the time but it may be only this one particular time, for unknown reasons to me, that may be so offensive to him that I must be punished and berated for my actions.
The punishments vary greatly but I know each well. Well enough that the sequence of events is clear to me before they happen. Knowing the events, however, is not enough to stop them or lessen their effects on me. At the first signs of attack I quickly question my memory. Does crunching down on an apple too loudly equal a verbal lashing or being locked out of the house? Does asking a question he deems stupid equal being ordered to leave his sight immediately or having items thrown at me? If I make a face he doesn’t like in reaction to his behavior will he threaten to kill me or himself?
There are too many rules to keep straight and they are ever changing. There is no way to keep them straight or avoid the consequences. If they were straight forward and always had the same repercussion I could write them down or memorize them to keep myself in the clear. But I have tried and it is tireless because there are no definitive answers. There is no way to keep up with his changing moods and rules. I must always be prepared for the battle coming my way. With no way to win, I strive only to survive the wreckage. And I do survive each time, adding mental or physical scars, but I still live. The version of me that survives each time is a little duller, more damaged, jaded.
My wounds aren’t visible to the naked eye which helps my outward façade that nothing is wrong. It helps that when asked how my day is I can always lie and say it is good. I am able to quickly turn away from the returning thoughts of unpleasantness and inquire how the questioner’s day is. Happy that in the conversation I seem believable and unfazed. What it doesn’t help is my ability to be productive. I go about my day as if looking through a steamed up window. Seeing what is there but not the sharpness, no edges or definition. Accomplishing little to nothing; my real accomplishment for the day is that I am still here, still breathing, still thinking. While inside I am dying. Dying a slow death of mental torture and abuse.