October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Some memories can be fleeting mental images and others can be more sensory as they pass. For me, one in particular replays itself in slow-motion. Now don’t get me wrong; it doesn’t play very often. It happened a long time ago and I am well away from all of that. Yet, it has shaped my opinion of burgers and beans: refried beans to be exact.
There are many faces of abuse. Power and Control dictated that dinner had to be ready the moment my abuser walked in the door . . . . but the walking in the door part happened unpredictably. It was an unreasonable demand, of course, but that’s what I was faced with.
I had worked all day: scrubbing our large kitchen floor on my hands and knees, rinsing pinto beans I had soaked overnight and tending the pot as they simmered, etc. When the beans were cooked, some of them would become refried beans for dinner. That was the easy part. My husband like refried beans and he liked the way I made them. We were also going to have hamburgers.
It’s tough to have hamburgers ready and hot for someone when they walk in the door at a time you haven’t been told. No microwaves back then, either. My husband’s arrival time was never consistent: sometimes early, sometime late. I learned to work around that later, but the burgers and beans dinner was early in our marriage.
He surprised me when he walked in the door. It had already become a frightening event, frankly, but that whole dinner on the table thing made it worse. I had some latitude as he cleaned up and changed clothes, but not much.
I put the cast-iron skillet on the stove, adjusted the flame to heat it up, then and put the burgers on to cook. Meanwhile I fixed the refried beans. It was easy enough to set the table any time during the day, so that didn’t need tending and it gave the impression of confident preparedness.
Too slow! The burgers were taking too long. I could tell he was nearly ready to come to the kitchen. I cranked the flame to high and would have cooked the burgers with a welding torch at that point, had there been one available.
He arrived at the table, took his seat and demanded his dinner. The beans were in a bowl and I serve his burgers hot off the pan. He took a bite of his burger, and then . . . . .
. . . . he pushed himself away from the table, stood, removed the burger from its bun and thrust it upwards toward my nose. He reached for the bowl of beans, used his hand to scoop out as much as he could and shoved it where the burger had just gone.
I was blinded and choking. It was of no concern to him. He was clearing the table by throwing everything on the clean floor. The remaining beans went flying everywhere and the rest of the hamburgers followed. The drinking water in the pitcher got thrown at me.
One incident, so fleeting, and yet so very, very wrong. Not love, not respect, not peaceful, and certainly not fair.
Today, I am wearing purple for anyone who may not know that such behavior is A-B-U-S-E! Tonight, burgers and beans at my house!