This is probably one of the worst years of my life.
My parents continued to fight, and we wore our happy little masks everywhere we went. Everytime we went to church, a family gathering, anything, my dad would tell us "Kids, whatever happens in the family stays in the family." Which meant don't talk about us fighting. So I wore my mask. I did good in school. And I cried out to God for deliverance. I would pray my parents would divorce. I knew it was wrong, but it was getting awful.
The teenage years are hard enough without this kind of pressure. I was the eldest, I had to remain strong for my brothers, all the while patiently hearing my dad vent to me. He would tell me things about mom, himself, but it was all a lie.
He started teaching a class at our church. Of all the things a church would do. They had absolutely no discernment at all. I mean, who doesn't let their wife come to their first class? Really? He started doing the holier-than-art routine.
The times I saw my Mom's family I could count on one hand. I loved them dearly, but never talked or saw them. My Mom had moved from Michigan to where my dad was, where his family was. They never really knew what happened in our family.
I had done ballet for several years. I loved it. I could express myself through it and all the while work of nervous energy. My recital was that month.
Dad and Mom had a huge fight beginning of June. He wanted to talk to her all alone in the bedroom, while she didn't want to be alone with him. He grabbed her arm, dragged her in there, locked the door and pinned her down. He didn't have a shirt on so she scratched his chest to be free. He ran out of the bedroom to where us kids where sitting on the couch and triumphantly exclaimed "Look what your Mom did! She scratched me! See the marks?" Mom came out, trying to explain.
She started crying. This was the first time I had ever seen my mom cry. I pity her so badly now, living with that awful man. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. I started crying, begging for them to stop. They didn't. The next day there were no scratch marks on his chest, but a big bruise on her arm.
And a fresh wound on my heart.
I have a picture, from the end of June. It was Dad, Mom, and myself, smiling at my recital. I can see the bruise, barely covered by her shirt. Dad is smiling his fake smile. He has his arm around my Mom, and she looks like she just barely keeping it together. And I'm keeping my head up.