Today I want to welcome Vonnie Davis to my blog. She's a sister author with Wild Rose Press and has been one the supporting angels who've made me glad I sent in a submission that was accepted. Being one of the roses in their vast garden has been a great experience.
IF WOMEN WERE MEANT TO BE DOORMATS, WE WOULDN’T HAVE BUMPS
Usually my posts are more light-heated, full of humor and more reflective of my personality. But today I’m on my soapbox with something to share.
At some point in history, we women were sold a flawed bill of goods. We were told to be a good wife, we had to be subservient to our husbands and silently put up with his male moods. To be a good Mother, we had to “do” for our children. And to be a good employee, neighbor, or committee member, we had to silently handle whatever was heaped onto our plates.
In short, we had to be a doormat.
One doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the other.
Granted, I thoroughly enjoy spoiling my husband, but I expect the same in return. If I am to respect him, then by golly, he better respect me. Things like tenderness, willingness to do little things for the other, respect, emotional support and all the kindnesses that grease the wheel of marriage should flow both ways.
I’ll be no man’s doormat—although I have been in the past. And may an elephant caress my ex-husband with his toes.
To be a good Mother does not mean we enter into maternal slavery. We do our children no favors by doing everything for them. Our daughters and sons need to know how to fix a meal, sew a seam and scrub a toilet. My two sons know how to stuff a turkey and clean an oven. My daughter can pound a nail and change oil in her car. As I taught them to take care of themselves, I also served as Room Mother, chaperone, taxi-driver and football and wrestling mom.
Motherhood does not lower us to doormat status; it elevates us to the role of teacher and mentor.
When I was working, I took great pride in handling my job to the best of my abilities. But don’t expect me to do Martha’s work, too, especially if Martha is too busy flirting or gossiping or surfing the net to do her work. Don’t think I’m going to work myself into the ground so your life will be easier. Ain’t happenin’.
Because if women were meant to be doormats, we wouldn’t have bumps.
Women aren’t less than.
We are more than.
Yet, somewhere along the way, a number of men adopted the philosophy that it’s ok to abuse women—physically, sexually, verbally and emotionally. Some statistics state 1 in 3 women suffer an aspect of domestic abuse or violence. These men, who inflict abuse, are either emotionally ill or conditioned by the society in which they live or their religion that they have a right to “control” their wives by any means necessary. In their minds, their wife is their doormat.
While it’s easy to say, “I’d never live with a man like that,” it’s also easier to slip into that pattern of action and reaction than one might think.
In my debut book, Storm’s Interlude, I deal with my heroine’s past domestic violence at the hand of Phillip, her ex-fiancé. Rachel is a home care nurse and Sunny is her patient. They are outside, walking around the house…
“Tell me more about you and Phillip.”
Rachel looked away for a beat, tamping down the pain of the memories. “Once we were engaged, the putdowns started. When I’d object, he’d say I was paranoid or neurotic.”
Sunny sat up straight and stared at Rachel for a beat. “Paranoid? Neurotic? Girlfriend, you have got to be kidding me! You’re so not any of those things.”
She swiped at a tear. “No, but I was in such an emotional state over losing Daddy...the suddenness of his death.” She looked down at her clasped hands. “Some teen texting and driving hit him head on. Daddy and I were so close.” She cleared her throat, trying to regain control. “Initially, when Phillip’s insults started, they didn’t register. Guess I was in a kind of emotional fog. Every time I didn’t see things his way, he accused me of being paranoid or neurotic.”
Sunny took Rachel’s hand and squeezed it. “That’s so cruel. The manipulating bastard.”
She squeezed Sunny’s hand in return, their emotional bond strengthening. “That’s how the abuse started. With his undermining my mental stability, I actually started to doubt myself. Can you believe it? Long story short: he wore me down emotionally so the remaining steps of the abuse seemed normal.” She shrugged again. “Like I deserved it or something. The temper rages started. He beat me several times, broke my wrist. I got scared and ended the engagement. Took me a while, but I finally came to my senses.”
“Smart girl.” She pointed her finger at Rachel. “Now I understand. That’s why you reacted the way you did earlier when Storm was rough with you, isn’t it? Oh, honey, if Storm knew…”
“There’s no reason for him to know. He has Pilar to think of, not me. You ready to go the rest of the way?” Sunny nodded and stood. They started walking again, arms linked.
Sunny patted Rachel’s hand. “Honey, I think the two of you are kidding yourselves about the way you feel. If you could only see how you look at each other, hear the sound of your voice when you address one another…” She wiggled her fingertips in the air. “…see the sparks between you two, then you’d know what I know.”
Rachel shrugged. “I’ve accepted how I feel. I’ve also accepted the man I care for is engaged to another woman. I refuse to bemoan how much it hurts, ’cause frankly, it hurts like hell.”
“What am I going to do with you two?” Sunny stopped and looked at Rachel, who crossed her arms and regarded her with one eyebrow cocked in defiance. “Okay, okay, I can see you don’t want to talk about it. So, tell me what your ex-fiancé did when you broke off the engagement.”
They started walking again. “He slashed my tires.”
“I replaced them. He slashed them again.”
“Oh, a determined bastard.”
She looked away. “Yes. Next he smashed a window in my SUV and slashed the seats. When that didn’t make me come crawling back to him, he broke in my house and cut up all my clothes.”
“Oh, see, now we’re gonna have to kill him. A man doesn’t mess with a woman’s wardrobe and live to tell about it.” Sunny smiled wryly.
“Of course, there were harassing phone calls and e-mails. Terrible texts.”
“Did you go to the police?”
She nodded. “Oh, yeah. Repeatedly. Got a restraining order against him after he beat me and broke my wrist, making it illegal for him to come within five hundred feet of me or my house. He wasn’t allowed to contact me by phone or text or e-mail.”
“I gather that didn’t stop him.”
“No. He broke in one night.” She bent to smell one of Noella’s peach roses, giving Sunny a second or two to rest. Their walk around the house was tiring her.
Sunny plucked a yellow rose and ran it over her cheek. “What happened?”
“At the time, I was taking care of a patient in a little town about thirty miles from Yazoo City, where I lived. So I commuted every day. Got home after dark every night. One night he was waiting on me, sitting in my living room, big as you please. Said he wasn’t leaving. Claimed we were getting married within the month.”
Sunny took her arm, and they started walking again. “Oh, that gives me the chills. What a sick creep. What did you do?”
“I surprised him. I pulled a gun out of my purse and ordered him out of my house.”
Sunny stopped and looked at her with a shocked expression, one tinged with respect. “Really? You had a gun?”
“Yes, I had a permit for it and everything.” They’d finished their trek around the house, and Rachel held the door open for Sunny. “He left, but not before threatening to kill me. Said I had two options: marry him and live, or die without him.”
They stepped inside to the coolness of the mudroom and then entered the cleaned kitchen, where the hushed noise of the dishwasher created a humming background. Sunny collapsed in a chair, her breathing labored again. “And?”
“And I figured I had another option. I hid from him. A coward’s way out, I suppose. He didn’t know where I was working.”
“He never followed you?”
“No, I made sure of that. Once my patient was in remission, I went to Colorado for a few weeks to relax and decide what I was going to do about Phillip. That’s where I was when you contacted me. Since I came straight here, he has no idea where I am. I got a new cell phone number and e-mail address. No one in Yazoo City has it except Lynda. She’s the only one who knows how to get in touch with me other than my mom. For the first time in months, I feel safe.”
Ah, but was she safe?
For one lucky commenter today, I’m giving away a free copy of Storm’s Interlude, nominated 2011 Book of the Year at Long and Short Reviews. Please leave your email address so I can notify you should you win. And remember, God didn’t create you to be a doormat.