October is Domestic Violence awareness month and that’s a very personal thing to me. Not only was my mother a victim of Domestic abuse at the hands of my stepfather, I was a victim at the hands of a boyfriend. It’s true what they say – abuse is a cycle, and it’s up to us to break it.
I don’t talk about my abusive relationship much. People know that it happened and the way that it has changed my life.
This past weekend, I went to get an MRI and it brought on the memories of what happened. Here’s the letter I wrote to my abuser after that.
It’s been quite awhile since we’ve spoken and I am sure that hasn’t crossed your mind. Only it crosses my mind everyday. Sometimes it’s a passing thought, sometimes it hits me like a freight train. Sometimes I think of the good times, but mostly it’s the bad.
I can’t do simple things anymore because of you – because of the memories. I went to get an MRI – I have chronic pain – and I flipped out at the idea of them putting me in a tube. Two Xanax and I still freaked out. All I could think of when something was that close to my face, was all of the times that you smothered me with a pillow until I couldn’t breathe anymore. When they strapped me in, I screamed.
I didn’t want to be prisoner. I struggled and kicked, I couldn’t see what was in front of me. The man that was trying to help me just stood there.
And tears fell down my eyes.
He let me out and I quickly got dressed, apologizing that I had wasted their time. They kept telling me that it was okay, but all I could see was you standing there, yelling at me. Your hands waving at me as though I was a child being scorned.
As I journeyed out into the street, ready to grab a subway ride home – I found myself walking into a Bank of America and taking a seat in the corner. I couldn’t move. It was as if I was paralyzed. That’s all thanks to you. Congratulations for making something so simple so traumatic.
It’s the simple things that I can’t do. I can’t put on a necklace or even wear a scarf properly. Because when I do – all I feel is your hands. I can’t eat Mole because of all the times you poured it over my face until I choked on it. I can’t walk side by side with anyone, because of all the times that you punched me and spit on me as we were walking.
God forbid that someone try and hug me – I will literally punch someone out for that. I can’t stand to be hugged – because of all the times you would act like you were about to hug me and then put my head through a wall.
I have trouble walking down stairs with anyone behind me because of all the times that you pushed me down the stairs. I shake when someone stands too close to me or if they walk behind me on the stairs. I have trouble holding a knife because of all the times that you ran the cold steel blade over my body.
Oh what a life I live, thanks to you.
I get it – I didn’t leave. I stayed. I told myself the first time that it was a bad day. The second – I said that I shouldn’t have provoked you. The third – I told myself I didn’t love you enough. The fourth – I told myself I didn’t make myself pretty enough for you. And the list goes on and on.
It wasn’t as easy as leaving. It was so much more complicated. I felt worn down and as if I was to blame. You had me believing that I wasn’t good enough. You had me believing that I was never going to find any one to love me.
You destroyed me.
And I know it’s been years and I should be able to move on. I am – don’t get me wrong – in little ways. I can sleep in the dark now and I have learned to be at ease with some people so that they can do the simple things like hug me. I eat shrimp again and I have learned to laugh sometimes.
See, I know that there is shit that I can not do or handle – but I will get there. I won’t let you keep me afraid and alone forever. I will eventually stop sabotaging every relationship I am in – because you won’t be in my head anymore.
Yes, I will get there.
The biggest thing I have overcome is the knowledge, that this is not my fault. I didn’t ask to be beat. I didn’t deserve it. This was your fault. You made the choice to beat me, to strangle me, to suffocate me.
So yes, I went to get an MRI – but the positive thing about that – I got closer than I have been in years to being stuck in that tube.
I will get there. You don’t get to own me. You don’t deserve me. And the biggest thing is – I am not afraid of you anymore.
That is progress and you can’t take that away from me. Have a good life.
A few months ago – my abuser found me on Facebook, asking for forgiveness. He told me that he had changed. The thing is – I know that I could offer forgiveness, but I am not about to ease his conscious. My history of being in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship is something that I will never be able to outrun. But I can stop and tell my story. I can make a difference.
If you are in an abusive relationship – I understand why you stay. It’s not simple, it’s not easy. I stayed for a year. My head went through a wall 41 times, 8 broken ribs, 19 times being strangled, 11 times being smothered, 22 times being punched in the jaw, 128 fights where some sort of abuse occurred. I stayed, until I didn’t. I didn’t know I deserved better. But I hope you hear me when I tell you that YOU deserve better.
If you or someone you know is being abused, there is help out there. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7 – 1−800−799−7233.