Thursday, July 22, 2010

Confessions of a husband beater in the diaspora

"I am a husband beater! I am proud of that, honestly. My husband and I are both Zimbabwean. We were childhood friends. We were not the type that spent time together, of course. We went to the same school and did Computer Science at the University together. Obviously, we grew close and we just ended up in a relationship. We got married and six months later, decided to pack our bags and run away from crumbling Zimbabwe. We couldn't see ourselves having children and affording them.
"We came to America together. We lived in Indiana. We got jobs as assembly workers, which was a terrible blow to our self-esteem. At least I was only a computer programmer, while my husband had been a manager.
"After a few months, I was convinced by fellow Zimbabweans to ditch the assembly line for a certified nurses' aide job. I went to school and within a few weeks, I was working in a nursing home, cleaning old people's filth. It was a tough job and I couldn't get used to it. But, it paid the bills handsomely, especially since I took many shifts.
"Our daughter was born that year. There is no maternity leave in America. I had complications and had to stop working. My husband worked 80 hour shifts to cover the bills until I gave birth. Our daughter was barely two weeks old before I was back on that floor, working my heart out. I couldn't take it.
"The smell! I had been away for too long.  My husband encouraged me to do nursing. He said I would earn more and I wouldn't have to clean up old people. I didn't want to do nursing, but it seemed like a good idea. He said we would progress as a couple if I did nursing. He made a lot of sense at the time. So, I sacrificed my dreams for the family. I decided to go back to school, which meant that my husband had to work more hours while I took a Licensed Practical nursing course. I felt like we were both contributing and I was so proud of my husband and I. It was about 18 months and during those months; I got pregnant again, and had another baby, a boy. My husband worked hard those months.
"As soon as I had my diploma, I was back on the floor of the old people full time. I had been working part-time while going to school and increasing my family. I began to make up for it by doing doubles almost every day, including weekends. Very slowly, my husband stopped working!
"He cut his hours from 60 at the time, to 40, which was okay, because he deserved the break, and I picked up more hours. Then he cut them to 32, and then 30 and then 24.
"I said to him that since he was now home most of the time while I worked and paid the bills, could he please pick up our children from the baby sitter and watch them until I came home. He refused, so I had to work more hours to compensate for him not working and the huge baby sitter bill.
"I started doing two shifts a day, from seven to three, and then from three to eleven. We needed the money! I would come home, exhausted, feet swollen and there is my husband, drinking Heineken and smoking weed with his new black American friends.
"I started getting depressed and bitter! I wondered why I had to pick up the children so late at night when he was home. I hated coming home to a smoke-filled house and strangers sitting about my living room. We started fighting. He would call me the 'B' word often, and I would cry from sheer exhaustion and the verbal abuse. He was verbally abusive indeed. I needed him to respect our house and to get a job!
"Nothing I said got through to him and our children suffered. A fellow nurse suggested to me a few months later that I was getting too fat because I was depressed. She was also from Zimbabwe. She suggested I join a gym or something, so that I could have some free time to myself.
"I started taking kick boxing classes. It was good for me. It was the one thing I could do for myself.
"Well, one Saturday, I came home from buying new blankets for us. I had woken up early so that I could spend the day with my children before leaving for a three to eleven shift, which was probably going to turn into a double shift. I was at the mall for about four hours, which was longer than I had thought. I had left the children with him and, as usual, he had locked himself up in the bedroom, watching BET.
"He left our children in the living room all by themselves. The children were still in their diapers from the previous night. In fact, the diapers were hanging about their ankles because they were soaked with urine. They hadn't eaten or drank anything. They looked like orphans, while the father had prepared himself some bacon, eggs and toast and had swallowed it down with orange juice. I had worked for that food! I worked for my children, not him.
"He had let his own children go without food or drink. What sort of a man was he? He didn't even realize what he had done!
"I fed and bathed my children, and then got ready for work. I took them to the baby sitter's house and drove to work. I was fuming! I had married a useless man, I finally realized.
"I came home that night, not in a good mood and the apartment was filled with people and smoke. I took my children and went straight to bed. He came after me and asked me why I had been rude to his friends. I said I was tired, but he started again.
"'You B. you are ugly and should be thankful that I married you. My mother told me not to marry you because you were a B. But I didn't listen to her, now look.'
"Hearing the commotion, his friends left. Then I turned on him.
"Honestly, I think I was possessed by my grandfather's spirit or something. I used him like a punching bag, as if I was in a kick boxing class. I broke his jaw with my kick and then proceeded to ground him to nothingness in a matter of minutes! I don't know what came over me. I felt invincible. I felt was doing justice to my babies. He was too ashamed to tell the police I had hit him and so I got away with it. His jaw got wired and he ate out of a straw for a very long time.
"He said to me he hadn't realized that I was so strong. Neither had I.
"But, let me tell you, he changed from that day on. There were no more friends of his in my apartment while I worked. I realized that beating him got me results quickly, so I continued.
"I went to more kick boxing classes and added some judo and any other classes I could lay my hands on. I beat him all the way into a new job.
"After a few black eyes and hunger, he went looking for a job! I beat him into being a better father! I would tell him that if I came home and my babies were not home in their bed, we would have a very close conversation. I would come home and my babies are fast asleep, smelling of soap and in fresh clothes. I made him nervous, and the bedroom thing just went out of the window, but I didn't miss it at all. I know he thinks I am crazy and I let him think that because it gives me the life I want. Every opportunity I get, I beat him! There has been peace in my home since! I am happy.
"That is my secret to a happy marriage.

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