BY MIKI MARKOVICH
She told me she was going to blow my head off while I slept, and I believed her as she stomped around our apartment with a sawed off shotgun in hand. She had been pacing outside my bedroom for weeks, repeating the phrase as if a favorite mantra. No, I didn’t sleep much that sixteenth year of life.
My mother considered me a “traitor” for moving to Florida with my grandmother earlier in the school year and “unclean” from a recent rape. I had never had sex before the rape and didn’t for years after the incident, yet I was still considered dirty. I avoided telling my mother when it happened because I feared she wouldn’t believe me and because I feared she would. However, a well-meaning friend I eventually confided in told our guidance counselor who then told my mother.
I was immediately “grounded” and locked away in my bedroom. Without being allowed to leave the small, upstairs room, I couldn’t visit the kitchen, only eating when she decided to bring food, or use the bathroom, unless given explicit permission. I wasn’t allowed to nap, read, use hairspray, interact with pets or look out my window.
While my mother was out volunteering for a non-profit in a neighboring town one afternoon, an old family friend came to the door. I found myself peeking from the corner of the window after the second knock landed. What I didn’t expect was being met with direct eye contact. I immediately panicked and ducked down under the window. Quickly realizing damage control was needed, I stood up, begging him never to mention he had seen me. As far as I know, he never did.
I don’t know how long went by, but on August 2, 1988, she once again left to do her charity work. Expecting her to be gone for a couple of hours, I snuck out of my room to eat and shower. I first foraged in the fridge and cabinets for bits she wouldn’t notice missing, eating everything raw as the smell of cooking could alert her to my rule breaking. After eating just enough to stop the hunger pangs, I stripped down, climbed into the shower, letting the hot water pour over my body, momentarily erasing the insanity that had become my existence.
What I didn’t know is that my mother had forgotten something at home, returning to the apartment to fetch it. The ting, ting, ting of the water blocked the sound of the door. I didn’t know she was there until she ripped the curtain back. Enraged, she pulled me out of the small space by my hair and dragged me to my bedroom while punching me repeatedly.
After throwing me on my bed naked, she continued the violent assault. I was vulnerable and terrified. Regressing, I begged her to stop, calling her mommy in a high-pitched, child-like soprano. At some point it all just clicked I knew that if I stayed passive as I always had, I may not see another day.
Lodging my foot into her mid-section, I launched her off me. I then made a run for the stairwell, but she grabbed me by the throat, choking me while pounding my head into the wall over and over and over again. At some point, her aim veered left, and I fell backwards, tumbling down the steps. Hitting the floor on my back, I had a clear view of her storming down the stairs as fast as her legs allow.
In a frenzy, I heaved myself up and ran to the front door, pausing, momentarily wondering which would be worse, running across town naked or dying at the hands of my mother. My fingers slid and slipped around the knob, seeming an eternity before connecting properly. It finally swung open and I ran into the blinding August sun, the great unknown.
I don’t know if I’ll ever fully recover from the emotional turmoil stemming from this day so many years ago. But, given the situation, I know it was the best thing that could have happened. Even with all the drugs, violence and men I was raised around, I always thought my mother was the most beautiful, intelligent woman living. I constantly tried to win her love and respect only to look into her eyes to see disappointment or worse, indifference.
No matter how much she emotionally and physically abused me I would have never left for anything less than this incredible act of violence.
Of course, the next several years were extremely difficult as I moved into foster care, got emancipated and lived life under police protection. But, soon enough I was free: free to find myself, explore my own interests, pursue my own future and walk in the sunshine. Sometimes what seems like the most horrific scenario possible can actually be a desperately needed solution.
Although many of us are quick to judge our circumstances as good or bad, it is still mere perception. No matter the difficulty or the challenge, keeping an open mind and a hopeful heart can do wonders.
Who knows what light may be born from the darkness.
Miki Markovich is a seeker of beauty and truth, traveler of interesting roads, saver of furry souls, typer of words, iPhone lover and mac head. You can find her on Twitter at @mikimarkovich and @fiveminutezen. If you’re looking to go from pissed to blissed in five minutes flat, find balance or improve the quality of your life through self care, check out her website at fiveminutezen.com.