My Husband’s Cruelty Was On Purpose

“40+150 SOUP” by bark is licensed under CC BY 2.0

My man was mean to me out of necessity. If he wasn’t consistently cruel, constantly battering me mentally and physically, it would mean that he wasn’t man enough. He might risk losing his superiority over me.

Frying an egg his morning, two decades after I’d last seen this man, I could still imagine what he would say if I were cooking it for him.

“Eeeughhh!!! That’s not enough for a dead bird!”

I said the words out loud as if I were performing them in a play.

I could see him, his posture, his mannerisms, his facial expression, lips turned up in a deliberately aggressive sneer.

If he could admit that this was indeed enough food, would that make him smaller?

If he could stop to consider how he was hurting his wife, his partner in all things, would he be less of a man?

The person I was twenty years ago would not have known to question whether his relentless domination could really make me less than him.

Today I stood in front of the stove, gripping an oven mitt in one hand, a steel spatula in the other. I performed my husband’s words again. And again.

Each time, I projected my voice with more contempt.

“Eeeughhh!!! That’s not enough for a dead bird!”, I bellowed, curling my lips and tucking my chin to my chest as he would have.

I have performed his words.

I have published his words.

I own these words.

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I grew up in a religious cult. Years after my escape, my storytelling and visual artworks still search for freedom from oppressive constructs.

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River Irons

River Irons

I grew up in a religious cult. Years after my escape, my storytelling and visual artworks still search for freedom from oppressive constructs.

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