by LaJoyce Stewart
I knew that I could not stay. I knew that it was just a matter of time before she threw me by the way side, so I had to make the decision to pull the trigger before she did.
I had never got to know her, I never felt the need to. She was always so judgmental and critical. The type of person that made you feel less of a person. I never felt I could be myself around her. She was always so cold and closed anyway. We kept our distance to say the least. I never knew why she hated me so much or looked at me with so much disgust. At times I wondered why was I given HER for a mother?
I can never forget the night that changed my life forever. Layers of scars were made on that Friday; mental, physical and emotional, but I had always kept it in the back of mind and tried to forget it ever happened.
I was a pre -teen, still a promiscuous and curious girl trying to figure out life for myself. I grew up never being told I was pretty. I never really fit in. Compliments were few far and in between. I was just your average black girl. I was in private school and I attended church regularly. One could say that I was grounded, raised with morals and values but, the other life is what intrigued me the most. I didn’t have a lot of friends due to my mother’s reputation of being the wicked witch of the west. There wasn’t anything cool about not having any freedom. What topped the cake was being just the odd ball like I was, all the time.
Most of my friends were from church and that was the extent of our relationships. I wanted to be part of the in crowd but, I could only get so far with my mother constantly watching my every move like a hawk.
The opportunity for me to finally join the in crowd came unexpectedly. It was the summertime in Long Beach California. The weather was nice, school was out and all I wanted to do was have some type of fun. My house phone rang and on the other end was my church boyfriend saying that he was down the street at the barber shop and wanted to stop by and say hello and use the bathroom before he caught the bus back home to North Long Beach. I didn’t think anything of it, but the thought of my possessive mother finding out did cross my mind. I weighed my options and consequences and said yes.
It was about an hour later when the phone rang again and it was my boyfriend downstairs saying he needed to be buzzed up. I did exactly as he asked hung up the phone and went to check the mirror to make sure I was cute enough for his arrival. I met him at the elevators and led him down the green carpeted hallway that led to our condo. He walked inside and hugged my tightly. We kissed and he then proceeded to use the restroom just as he had asked. I was at the stage where I wanted to do more than kiss but I didn’t quite know how that worked so I just kept to the basics. After he exited the bathroom we kissed again and surprisingly he said he had to leave but would see me at Bible study later. I was sad and relieved. I showed him to the door and he disappeared as fast as he had come.
I sat thinking of the last thing that he had said to me. He would see me later. It made my wheels start turning. What if my mom found out? What if his mother spilled the beans? What the hell did I just do? My conscious was eating me up by the minute and the only thing that I could think to do was to tell my mom I let him come over. It made sense, she couldn’t possibly be mad that she found out from me beforehand or at all. I was beating anyone else to the punch, or so I thought.
I picked up the phone to dial her at work. She answered on the first ring. “Mom, I have something to tell you.” I was so hesitant I couldn’t get the words out; I was starting to think the whole Idea was stupid. I began to explain that I let him in the house to use the restroom and that it was completely harmless. I sat in silence waiting for her to reply but all she said was “I’ll see you when I get home.” She hung up. I sat in disbelief. I knew I had made a mistake. As to what the consequences would be, I had no idea, but I already started the fire. Now I had to let the fire burn.
I waited for her arrival and soon it came. We had a quick turn-around time from the time she got home from work until the time we had to leave for church so it was maybe 30 minutes that she did not speak to me. She entered the house in silence just with that same disgusted look she always had, but this time it was different. There was an anger in her eyes and I knew it was my fault. We left for service and she still didn’t speak to me.
Our church was only a mile a couple of miles from our house so the drive was short and silent. Service went as usual and for a minute I thought It was over. It wasn’t until I saw her speaking with my secret boyfriend’s mother after service. I wanted to run away, I wanted to leave. Just as my thoughts settled she called me over and said it was time to go. The ride home was silent as well but the aura in the car was tense. We got home and my mother suggested pizza for dinner. I’ll never forget the Chicken Pizza and the Meat lovers she ordered from Dominos.
I only sat at the table with my first bite of Chicken pizza consumed when she told me to get up from the table and follow her. I swallowed my food and followed her down the hallway to into her bedroom and then into her bathroom, I looked around and saw the leather belt soaked in alcohol on the sink. She told me to strip and bend over. It was all happening so fast. I looked at the bathroom clock, it was 1015pm when it all began. The first slap of the belt stung like concrete burn. The nest one then again over and over. I cried, I screamed I begged but she kept swinging the belt. I got hit all over. She had beat me so much the belt had slipped from her hand and the buckle knocked me in the eye. She stopped.
It was 1052pm and I was sitting almost lifeless on the floor. She told me to get up and go eat. She was going to bed. I walked out of her room and went into my restroom. I couldn’t believe what I looked like there were whelps all over my back and body. There was even blood coming from under my eye where the buckle hit me. So many scars, so much pain, so much anger. I knew I had to go. How could she ever harm her only child like this? I began to think that the reason she hated me so much was because I was just like her. I packed my bags and left. I never looked back. I would ask myself, “When did telling the truth become so painful?”
Twenty years later I still do not eat chicken pizza period. I have a scar under my eye that I tell people came from chicken pox and it took 15 years to heal from the pain my mother caused me. Sometimes in life things are not always given to us the way that we would like them but, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Even though I endured a lot of pain in my childhood I can stand today and be proud of who I have become. Pain helps you grow. That’s probably when it hurts the most.