Comes The Dawn

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.

Blackout

I am in my body yet it’s as if I am being controlled from the outside.

I feel numb. Not a pins and needles kind-of-numb, but like an alcohol induced buzz kinda numb. I move, talk, and function as if I am human, but I feel far less than real. My chest rises and falls. Breathing is involuntary or I am not sure it would happen. My brain is foggy. Filling with information I have yet to fully process. By all accounts I feel dead, yet I continue to take in oxygen and that buzzed feeling begins to lift as I try to focus.

I am flat on my back. My cheek stings. I sense a presence near me and I barely make out a shadowy figure above me. I struggle to recall the moments before my mind was erased like a slate chalk board.

Where Am I?

My head aches like a train just entered through one ear and exited the other. Time floats above me and is no longer tangible. Am I dreaming? I try to move, but my body and head feel cemented to the rug beneath me. Another involuntary breath and I am made aware of the pain in my throat. A voice in my head asks, “Am I drunk?” I don’t recall drinking too much, but thats the first question that fills my head. Perhaps I blacked out.

The dark figure above me speaks.

I am immediately thrown into a vortex of reality as my brain begins to allow me access to the truth. Slowly I struggle to sit up, but am cautious of how I move. Fear washes over my rag doll body. I sense danger in the room but deny it’s as close to me as it really is. I refuse the truth flying like a banner legible enough to read from a hundred miles away. I squeeze my eyes shut. It hurts to swallow. My stomach feels like it may grow arms & legs and take the journey up through my esophagus to my larynx and out my mouth vomiting the truth. I swallow it back down because I am ashamed to see it.

There is a stranger in the room, but perhaps this person is someone I’ve met before I cannot put a finger on it. Tears come and the stinging hot pain on my face returns as they begin to roll down my cheek. The stranger hasn’t stopped speaking, but his words remain coated in a tunnel of steel and move in slow motion. It is barely audible.

I pull my knees close to my chest and wrap my arms around them. I rock back and forth trying to sooth the little girl inside that wishes her daddy would come rescue her from the darkness and the monsters that linger there. Shame, guilt, and remorse at some point attach themselves to my sides and help keep me company as I begin to process the minutes that produced the one I am now living in.

Words fill the cavity we call the brain. I hear them repeatedly like a CD that is stuck in a scratch where the laser cannot move across it’s surface.

What are you doing? What did you do? These questions repeatedly play. I question my sanity as if it was knocked loose on impact.

IMPACT?!!

That’s IT!!! There was some sort of impact, only I do not recall what it was.