She holds her breath but she can’t fill walking on eggshells cracking. Emptiness inside splitting her heart and her head pounding because he’ll be home soon. And there’s a stray piece of dust on the hardwood floors.
He won’t notice the whole house sparkling, delicious dinner simmering, kids working on homework or a baby sleeping peacefully.
He will only notice that one piece of dust. The one she missed in her flustered frenzy to make it all perfect. Everything in place so he would have no complaint.
But it doesn’t matter. None of it. Not how good she is, or how quiet the kids are, or that she did everything he told her even the things she knew were somehow wrong. But he said they were right. That God would have it this way. And he is always quick to remind her that she must obey, submit, keep her mouth shut.
So she keeps holding her breath.
But in the back of her mind it stirs. Deep in her heart Truth raking over the coals with the fire almost out for the lies have nearly extinguished the flame, the light. Her heart keeps pumping and blood keeps coursing, but his veins keep popping ever angry.
A part of her wants to leave, run away, escape him, but she can’t think straight living like this where control rolls over her and manipulation mangles her soul, heart all shredded. Pieces on the floor like so much dust.
And it all happens quiet without him lifting a hand towards her.
Not like her mother who married a drinker and him beating her black and blue plain to see. Her mom maybe would have left that man she married at 18 only to escape her childhood home where her own father hurt and she held a sick secret all the years of her growing from girl into woman. Maybe her mother would have left her dad, but she didn’t. And cycles spin forward and the wife who holds her breath — her situation it isn’t so glaring. Bruises lie deep in soul and psyche where the damage is just as killing but far less noticeable seeming easier to excuse.
She keeps holding her breath because she’s caught in a web sticky with lies. Crazy! One minute she feels crazy. The next she knows he’s crazy. Then it all spins crazy and maybe he acts less crazy and she thinks and hopes and holds her breath a little longer while her heart skips a stone across a pond and the ripples keep moving outward and she hopes with a ripple of hope that he will change. That things will change, that life will get better. That maybe she will wake up and realize she had fallen asleep reading a story.
But this story is real and it’s hers and it hurts. And he keeps on hurting her and doesn’t change because maybe he can’t, maybe he won’t. Same old same insane churns sour like her stomach and she tries to stay sane. And she becomes that piece of dust, made of dust, needing to be swept into the arms of the Everlasting One, but her marriage swirls like leaves dead caught in a wind twirling fierce.
She promised for better or for worse. And she thinks it could be worse. Or maybe better if somehow she was better. And she just wants to be loved.
And that one piece of dust on the floor, the only thing he squinty sees, it riles him red and he whips in ways that won’t show, but the Maker of all things visible and invisible, He sees. She holds her breath and holds on tight and the ride gets scarier and she thinks she’ll lose her lunch only she isn’t able to eat because she really is losing her mind and she wants to scream “Stop” and run and hide, taking her babies far and away.
From insanity seething.
But she is caught and keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting different to come but it doesn’t. She can’t scream because he will hear and make it worse. And she can’t speak because she can’t barely breathe with holding her tongue all tied and she’s got to untie the ropes that bind. Breaking free of the hold he has on her, death grip squeezing dry her life drop by drop.
Phantoms lurk and she wonders how can she stay and she prays she won’t disappoint God. She has lived so many days under his roof and under his thumb that she has forgotten how to think deep and trust herself without him telling her mighty all what to think or how or when.
And the Word that was made flesh is mangled like bodies on a highway divided from breath by some driver drunk wild whose life will go on with one more drink, or one more line; one more word or one more lie. Repeating, not stopping, and collateral damage that takes forever to heal. For words twisted evil under the guise of godliness gone mad wield power and that is all it is. A power play. Except he isn’t playing and she can’t win.
Is she going mad? Because it’s crazy to stay when you have to hold your breath and you can’t breathe and you can’t be the woman God has made you to be because he wants to control everything and especially you. A little each day she dies inside while on the outside he tries to be Christ repeating words holy, except he isn’t and it’s all unwholesome. Him denouncing sin in others but never seeing his own. Saving the lost when he is most lost.
And love is only a label for lunacy.
So he bullies with syllables that slap hard and hurt as much as if his hand had hit her head. It all spins fast and she talks fast to close friends or maybe her mother. They tell her to get out that it is no marriage when it’s only abuse, control, and violence washed down not with whiskey but the Word. A six pack of lies and more lies and she lies there trying to sort it out but can’t for only one of the two-as-one is trying and it feels like dying and it’s so sly, selfish and sick.
She holds her breath and she keeps holding on. She took a vow and she won’t let go, won’t let God down. But it’s living vacant and there is no air, oxygen gone. Code blue. And she wonders how it ever got this bad. Worries what people will think and what will become of her children but life is not life in a house of horrors where unspeakable transpires and it is later than she thinks. Little ones learning what they see and getting all broken.
Time to go.
For she can never change him when he doesn’t want to change, doesn’t see the truth in a true, real Way. Won’t bend His knee to the Almighty when it’s the throne he desires. She is pulled and she is pushed and the walls are coming down and she waits to hear from God. And someone who was once in a place so dark it demanded her soul as ransom speaks.
Get out before it destroys your soul.
Some men kill flesh, others the heart unseen. And the robber baron steals it all and her future and her gift taken, the gift she is to this world, help she is meant to give others caught in a hell when home is never far away. Until His hand takes hers offered. Safe.
Women have held their breath for men who were not husbands real and true, not husbands in the image of the Maker who is our husband, but only brutes and them broken, too. All lost and crying and sinful twisted inside, needing a Savior but running away from what lies buried deep in the grave of their own past all hurting. Never seeing or maybe not wanting to see.
But Truth will set her free and she will see.
And she will breathe again…
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