Comes The Dawn
Author: Veronica A. Shoffstall.
This poem was written in a letter that was sent to me in 1994, by my favorite Aunt. I used to read it everyday, at the time I was just out of high school, filled with promise, hope, and desire. I grew up in a family with strong woman. My first unhealthy relationship was when I was in HS. For whatever reason I was drawn to a guy who was controlling, verbally & physically abusive and older than me. It’s hard to fathom I would have allowed myself to be treated in those ways. I still struggle with understanding why. Sharing this poem is important to me. In the darkest, loneliest, most desperate times it has helped me find my way back. It has forced me to become honest with myself & my choices.
My debut post received so much kindness, support, and encouragement. My head is still reeling from it all. I wrote most of that piece after I took a flight from one state to another escaping my abuser for the final time. Sadly, that incident happened years prior one night in our apartment by the sea. While salt air flowed through opened windows & the ocean roared in the distance. Such promise in that place two blocks from the beach, my favorite place on earth. Those promises, like so many before were not kept and I failed , once again to get the courage to leave. This incident is by far the one that sticks with me the most. For two reasons, make that three reasons, but the third is far more shameful and difficult to admit, but I will attempt to do my best at writing what I can.
Reason #1: At the time he was nine. brown haired, olive skinned & green eyed just like me. Precocious. Strong-willed. Clever and oh, so feisty. My first born. Eager to please, but quick to anger.
Reason #2: At the time he was seven. Blonde haired, fair skinned, big blue-eyes just like my ex-husband. Mama’s baby boy. Silly. Creative. Shy. Affectionate. Still pretty immature for his age. Easy going and always happy.
While my memory blacked-out and I struggled to recall what happened to me those two precious boys slept down the hall on the living room floor. I often wonder about what could have been. If I hadn’t survived. If consciousness wasn’t regained. It makes my heart ache, a lump forms in my throat, and even as I type this my shoulders grow tense and creep up into my ears. I drop my head. Breathe. It’s over. It didn’t happen. They slept soundly and woke the next day with eagerness and smiling faces.
Nine starts with a hundred and one questions about the days events, “What time will we be headed to the giant sandbox with the big blue waves and sun-filled sky? Will mommy build dolphin sculptures again and is He coming?”
Aggravation strikes. Sleep deprived and saddened because I had just unsuccessful scrambled to find excuses as to why I deserved my newest shame. He didn’t buy it and I was the one who wound up apologizing and He went out for the day leaving me with a tear stained face and doubting why I stay for the thousandth time.
Reason #3: Nine had made me mad for reasons to this day I cannot recall. I tried several attempts at diffusing the situation, but his strong-will prevailed once again.
My will weak. My resolve lost.
Putting Nine in a brief time out should’ve fixed things. From across the room as he sat I spotted a piece of paper he scribbled upon i hate my mom, i hate my mom, i hate my mom, I HATE MY MOM!
I charged at him. As my hand met his cheek you could hear the slap echo through the barely furnished room. He screamed. Clutching his eye he rolled around on the floor and crawled away from me.
WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE? I DO NOT HIT!!!
I rushed to hold him. He recoiled and the fear in his eyes cut right through me. I still remember that look.
There is seldom a time that re-living this doesn’t make me feel just like the monster He was. I knew better. I had never hit my kids. I am not making excuses for my behavior, but in that moment I realized the trickling effect of abuse. People who get hit most likely wind up hitting.
My son and I have a happy, healthy, violent free wonderful relationship today. He is now 14 years old and told me one day, “Mom I forgive you, that is apart of the past and we need to leave it there. Move on.”
It has taken me a long, long, time to forgive myself and there are still days when I feel the shame of what I did, but I am learning to move on.