Okay, I had a working knowledge of Shakespeare, I had read many of the plays, but somehow The Taming of the Shrew had escaped me. He watched the movie for crying out loud. Liz and Richard on the silver screen, and he had the answers to life’s problems. He could now conquer his strong willed, opinionated wife. He could shut me up and turn me into the lady he thought his wife should be. Great. Can’t wait for that one.
In the play, the mighty husband withholds food and sleep until the strong, determined woman acquiesces to his greater wisdom and becomes a passive, quiet, approving wife. It’s a great story, too bad for the woman who hasn’t read it.
The actual process of his conquering me is a blur. Sleep deprivation is strong medicine. He would insist that I sit with him to watch television after I had worked all day, fixed dinner, and taken care of the baby. All I wanted was to go to sleep. He would talk to me and be offended if I didn’t answer. He would pinch, poke and yell to keep me awake. He demand obedience to his ridiculous commands, and he would accuse me of infidelity. That was a joke. I was too tired to entertain the thought. He accused, and demanded answers, accused again and made up stories to confirm his suspicions. And then he expected to be adored and worshiped.
I should have run away, somehow, but I was unable to function without sleep. I know now that I was dehydrated as well. I was living on sugary brown liquids and very little of “his” food. Everything I was doing was reducing my ability to cope with life. I had lost my baby son to SIDS, but had two little girls who still needed their mother. He had won. I was conquered. I wanted one thing only: sleep.
If you have a sister, a friend, or a neighbor who is being abused, please don’t simply decide that you can’t help her. Don’t believe that she must want to be abused somehow. Please try. Talk to her. Give her any information you can that will help her to believe that there really is hope for her.