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An Ode to Sister Betty

03 Dec 2007

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Two weeks ago he tried to run her over with his car.

Last week he was inside her body saying exactly what her fragile heart and emotionally unstable mind needed to hear.

This week, I felt it was necessary to turn around and go back down the yellow brick road to see exactly where it was this Black woman lost the ability to love herself.

I’ve always felt that I lacked the self-esteem I envied in other women, yet when I think of Sister Betty*, I see that I am wrong.

For many Black women, the stress of waiting for their Black prince (or princess) often proves too much. For some it begins as a debate within themselves, resulting in the decision that they will settle for the man (or woman) who is almost perfect but is lacking a few things, which are often the very important and necessary things.  Others, having given up long ago decide that they will jump onto the next train that comes along, even if its destination is hell.

Betty never knew what hit her.

Beelzebub** who knew how to recognize a woman with false confidence moved quickly.

First were the demeaning comments about her appearance; next came the insults about her family; then the vicious rumours that he spread in order to kill the self-esteem that was already half dead; then the infidelity, which everyone (including herself despite her delusions) knew was inevitable.

The physical abuse started one day when out of revenge, having discovered that he was cheating (again), Betty lied and told him that she had cheated too.

Later when she retold the story in my car, on our way downtown, surrounded by other women, she laughed at the irony, while we shook our heads in disbelief.

Although she is convinced that this monster is her lover, any naked and opened eye could see that she is being abused.

Over the course of a year I’ve witnessed Sister Betty, whose potential as a woman was obvious, deteriorate into a mass of living pity. Her hunger to be loved at all costs at times is so visible, it’s repulsive. The sister formerly known as fierce is now so desperately in love that she would do anything to keep him.

Estranged from most of her immediate family, Betty really has no one and so she loves Beelzebub with a frightening grip. She is an intricate and sporadic liar, finding it necessary to fabricate life to avoid dealing with the commonly known fact that her life is a tragedy and that she is being abused.

He doesn’t hit her often, just when he is really angry. She loves him and she is truly convinced that if she stays long enough and takes enough abuse he will one day learn to love her in the same way.

Last week a verbal altercation between my sister and Beelzebub escalated into a fistfight. My sister (who at the time was Betty’s roommate) fought because Betty was completely incapable of doing so herself; having given away all of her power.

Unlike Betty, my sister boasts a one hundred and fifty pound frame and put up a fair fight, lifting the gremlin and sending him crashing to the floor. Once the fight was over, Betty ran after her would-be murderer screaming, “Oh no. Now he won’t come here anymore.”

The fight was so raucous that the neighbors called the police.

My sister, having forgotten how necessary it is to protect your face in a fight was tending a swollen lip when the officer arrived. Beelzebub had already retreated to his lair and so Betty, afraid that my sister would press charges, approached the officer in the lobby and told him that my sister attacked him because she was crazy.

* Not her real name
** Not his real name

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