Every day I see it. Every day I walk by it. I always know it’s there.
A hole, the size of a baseball, remains about 18 inches under my family room window. The screen on the window has a scar, a dark shadow about the same size, that shows where he made impact after failing the first time.
That hole, and that shadow, are a measurement of unbridled anger. They also serve as a vivid illustration of someone who didn’t like that he no longer had control over me.
He made that hole because I wouldn’t shut up.
He made it on a perfectly sunny day, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, pulling over behind my house, crouching behind an overgrown bush – in plain sight of security cameras my mom and I had so much fun installing, after he shattered my sliding glass door a few weeks earlier.
So, even though I wasn’t home at the time, I know exactly what happened that day.
He leaned into his beat-down truck to retrieve his ammo, a few river rocks he had collected and brought with him for his errand. And then he threw them.
The first missed, hitting the wall, leaving the hole that remains today. The second hit the window, his original target, and it sent him running back to his truck.
And then he picked the kids up from school. As if it was a normal day. As if he hadn’t just shattered a window in their house, sending glass across the couch, raining shards all over a Barbie one of them had gotten for Christmas, leaving bits in places we would continue discovering for months.
Because glass does that. It hangs around.
And then he tried to tell the police who came to arrest him that he didn’t do it. That I did it. He said a lot of other wild things to the officers, too, who exhibited a level of patience that gives me new respect for those who choose to serve.
He never had to replace that window. Or the door. An agency who helps women ensnared in domestic violence situations helped with that. Officers did, too.
And he never had to pay to fix that hole. I suppose I could look at it like a bruise on the house, one that never healed.
But I don’t.
I look at it as proof of resilience. As a reminder that I found my voice, enough courage and a lasting strength to close the door on something that was terrifying and suffocating and painful for far too long.
It’s also a reminder that only we can change our environments. I will never be locked outside in my own backyard in the middle of the night again. I will never have someone rifle through my text messages, or tell me what to wear, or how to act or where to look or who to talk to.
I will not be manipulated. I will not be controlled. I will not be conned. I will not bend. Not again. Ever.
My kids tell me all the time that they think of me as a warrior and a fighter, and I shoo them off. But I’m glad they see that in me. It wasn’t a choice. It was simply required. And still is.
Because someone who lives life in a constant state of manipulation will always live that way. I’ve said it before – they know no other way. And anything is fair game, to them. Even kids.
So when I’m sad this summer that he’s exploited our custody calendar to somehow monopolize most of four consecutive weekends with the kids, I’ll remember the hole. And when he won’t let them Facetime me when they ask, because they miss me and wonder out loud why they don’t see me, I’ll remember the hole. When he tries (again) to extort me for money so that I can take the kids somewhere they want to go, I’ll remember the hole.
He never had to pay for it. And I made it through that. So, no. I won’t forget. And I won’t shut up.
Besides, that hole has a voice louder than anything I could ever write.