Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray to God my soul to take. Amen.
I never understood the essence of one of the most valued childhood prayers until my mistakes gave me a clearer perspective.
“Mr.” had me cringing at the thought of “If I should die before I wake.”
The clock ticking was a reminder of how my breath in each succeeding second could be my last. I breathed the aroma of the all so familiar beer Steel Reserve. The smell seeped through his pores and left him soiling the sheets in sweat.
With hesitation, I would turn my back to Mr. as he lays drunken asleep in bed.
The hesitation turned into a deep sigh, when I successfully turned over without waking Mr. in the night. His snoring became tolerable. Another moment to confirm he was asleep and I was alive. “I survived another night,” I thought.
Gazing at the wall, I became sleepy. I attempted to sneak in some rest. But like a thief in the night, Mr. stole that away from me. He wakes up feeling for me and calling my name, but as clever as a possum I pretend that I’m dead asleep.
He keeps repeating, “T, T, T,” which was what he called me. No response from me. I can feel the sheets twisting and mattress creasing. “I don’t want to have sex,” I thought. My legs were folded tightly together, knees facing the wall, left hand tucked inside my inner thighs, right foot crossed under my left foot, and my face buried in the palm of my right hand.
The tension arises. I feel his aggressive hands planted on my thigh and he rocks me. Wishing my tactics would work, I don’t budge. I can sense him at the foot of the bed, knees firm in the mattress, staring at me. He attempts to pry my legs apart and I respond as if I’m just shifting in the bed to stiffen my legs back together. This only upsets him and he forcefully pries my legs apart. I become an actress—yawning, stretching and opening my eyes slightly.
“What’s wrong baby?” I try to play it off as if I don’t know what is going on.
“Give me some!” This was his polite way of asking me for sex.
Mr. began sliding in between my legs as I attempted to close them. He told me “you gone f*** me, because you f*** everyone else.” This was his sick way of accusing me of cheating because he knew that he was just laid up with his co-worker before coming home to me. He grabs both of my wrists with his two hands and presses them beside my head on the pillow; looks me in the face and says, “you gone give me some.” I say to Mr. “NO!”
I jerk from fear of anticipated pain and the reality of pain at that moment. He begins to lecture me with every stroke; “T, you love me? T, I bet you don’t go no where, T, it feel good?” My eyes water because I don’t have the fight in me.
He’s done. I lay in the same position he left me, scared to move because I know I’m torn. I can feel the heat of tissue rubbed raw. I don’t want to move but I have to go clean up. I’m disgusted and I feel filthy. He didn’t use a condom this time and he had no shame in letting me know he spent some quality time with his co-worker before coming home. I’m praying that my internal wounds will heal and I won’t be the victim of a sexually transmitted disease.
It hurts to urinate and the soap burns but this is nothing. I tell myself, you can endure this.
Proverbs 3:24 tell us “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down, and your sleep will be sweet.”