“Shall I Be Mother”

It’s easy to think that if someone was being abused within a marital relationship, that they could leave easily.  We tend to think that people are stupid or are failures because they don’t take charge or leave.  I don’t know any of the answers but research has bought up a number of reasons: Denial, hope, shame, guilt, financial worries, practical reasons such as the children, or even fear of reprisals.  It must be very difficult, but imagine how much more difficult it was when divorce was frowned upon and women had nowhere else to go and were more financially dependent on a spouse.

The Words

I had an arranged marriage. I know this because I arranged it. It took 20 years of expectations and careful training by my parents, and was achieved through the process of unnatural selection. I could have been an air hostess, or a model, a secretary or a nurse or a teacher, but I became a professional wife and chose you.

When I was young, beauty and status mattered more to my family than brains , so I developed a tightly clipped accent to go with my tightly clipped figure. I weighed myself each day and kept control of fat by putting my fingers down my throat and throwing up now and then like my mother did. It was important to stay in control.

With your ring I thee wed and agreed to provide personal sexual and emotional services, free domestic labour, and become a nurse and teacher. I love our children with all my heart, but I never loved you. You were all so demanding, and I was ground down by overwork, and lack of sleep, and was caught because I was dependent on you. Then suddenly things got worse and I didn’t know why but I blamed myself. You started to get angry and you broke my flesh with your teeth and bruised my soul. I pretended nothing was wrong and I carried on. You changed jobs and we moved to the other side of the world, and I hated to leave my children behind in boarding school, but I carried on. You made me be quiet and walk in bare feet and only speak when spoken to, and I cried, but I carried on. You made me keep your secrets, and broke my nose when I questioned, and I carried on. You made me pray each night on my knees for forgiveness for being a bad wife, but I carried on. You were jealous and stopped me talking to anyone or going out, and I was isolated and frightened, but I carried on. I don’t know why I carried on.

I’m 78 and that was many years ago, and then recently your past caught up with you and you were put in prison.  I don’t do much. I sit and drink gin and think, but I don’t cry. I’m relieved to be an unProfessional wife and I shall carry on.

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