October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
This morning, I was listening to the radio in the wee hours before dawn. The classical music radio station was playing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 18. It is a concerto for piano and orchestra. I am always captivated from the moment I hear the first chords.
I used to play the piano. I say ‘used to’ when I should really admit that I am still able to play a bit. The limited playing I do now is directly related to the physical violence I suffered in my first marriage.
Before I continue, I must say that I never had any illusion of being a concert pianist, but I could play for long time and get lost in the music.
I’ve already mentioned the torn tendon sheaths in both my wrists. Power and Control did that – many times. He had a way of causing immediate, immobilizing pain with seemingly little effort on his part. I’ve had corrective surgery on both wrists: three times each and, as I type this post, am showing signs that another is in my future.
Listening to the Rachmaninoff this morning, the first movement, Moderato, reminded me of what I’ve given up. Moderato, itself wouldn’t mean too much of a challenge, but the arpeggios and agitated development would cause me pain and numbness. The third movement, Allegro scherzando, would be completely out of the question. Too jarring, too painful.
When I heard the second movement begin, I was reminded of what is still possible. It is the slow movement: Adagio sostenuto. It’s beautiful, lyrical, and for me, possible, albeit with less ‘animato’ than suggested by the composer.
I have long noticed that I have come by a collection of slow movements: both for the piano and for my life. Some I can simply chalk up to aging and not feel any regret. Others, however, are directly related to physical violence and torture. Lest anyone thinks I candy-coat domestic violence, I do not.
What happened to me was torture. I drop things. It hurts to grip things. It hurts to hold a book when I try to read. I get headaches when I look down. It hurts to get dressed in the morning. It hurts to turn my head when I want to look at something. It hurts when I grip a pen to write. It hurts to play the piano.
The purpose of my October Posts is not to complain on my own behalf. It’s to illuminate Domestic Violence. I can only speak for myself and what I went through, but keeping silent helps abusers and does not protect others from victimnization if they don’t even know what abuse looks like or feels like. From subtle manipulation to death-encroaching blows, Domestic Violence should be the oxymoron for which we legislate funds to advertise its hideous paradox. With an incidence of one out of three females and seven of one hundred males* who will experience abuse in their lifetime, it is a public health epidemic.
I make accommodations for limitations as they come up. I grip things differently, or don’t grip them at all. I hold books in my lap with my knees propped up so I don’t have to look down or hold the book. I manage getting dressed . . . because the college where I work would frown on me showing up in my pj’s. Rather than turning my head to look at something, I swivel my chair. Thank goodness for texting and email because I don’t have to write much anymore. I type most things. If my step is slowed or I grab the railing when I do the stairs, I choose to call it graceful.
And I play the slow movements of whatever piano piece I can find.