Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Not All Stories Are Happy Ones ...

This is a very long ... very personal post.  It's not funny ... or smart ... or fun ... and you won't hurt my feelings if you don't read it.   In fact, I'd skip it ...

Seriously ... go here ..

Huh?  Still here?  Okay then ... I warned you.

I don't talk about this part of my past a lot ... first of all because I don't care to think about it ... but more importantly because I don't want to come across as someone wanting sympathy.  I generally don't confide in anyone about everything that went on back then ... because I wouldn't want them to think I'm stupid or weak ... although, I guess to be honest I was stupid and weak.  Whatever bad situations I found myself in were because of bad choices I made ...

So why write about it now?  On lunch today, I read an article today about Rhianna and Chris Brown ... and it really, really bothered me.   It was about her Rolling Stone interview ... in which she says things like ... you think you know us, but it's different now ... and ... we know what we have and we don't want to lose it ... and ... I can handle this.   It's like the world's most fucked up bingo game ... mark the spots that contain the comments you've made ... he's not like that anymore ... he knows he won't get another chance.

My story starts out sounding a lot like a romantic movie ... when I was sixteen, I met a guy.   He was a few years older than me and a high school drop out.  He was a bad boy.  Everyone told me to stay away.  They said he wasn't a good person.   But, like a romantic movie, he said everything a sixteen year old girl wants to hear ... how special I was to him ... how no one understood him but me.

But that's where the romantic movie ends.  Things went very wrong.   I can put a small part of the blame on my parents ... they created an "us against them" kind of situation and there were many times I stayed with him simply because I wasn't going to give in or prove them right ... but the majority is my fault.  Me and my stubbornness.  I gave up my senior prom for him.  I gave up my senior trip for him.  I gave up a car and a motorcycle and friends for him.  I gave up college for him.

Right after high school, I moved in with him.  It was a third floor attic apartment ... steaming hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.   I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday ... but I can remember that first fight.  We argued.  He threw something at me ... and I ended up with a nasty cut on my forehead.   I called his mother sobbing ... begging her to make him stop.   She told me that he was my responsibility now ... that it was my job to stay with him and calm him down.  His sister took the phone from her mother and told me in a cold, factual voice ... get out now ... it will never get any better than it is right this second ... he's beat me, he's beat his mother, and he will beat you ... get out.

But he was sorry.   Oh so very sorry.  He cried.  He would never do it again.  And then, like experts will tell you ... there was a honeymoon phase.  That phase is wonderful ... gifts and words and all the love you can stand.  Until it happens again.  And again.  And again. When he was angry he would say horrible things like, "Now I understand why my father beat my mother ..."  I didn't come from a family like that.  What was going on with me was so different from what I came from ... I was ashamed to tell anyone.

If you've never been in this situation ... the obvious question is ... why didn't you leave?  The handful of times I've been asked, I usually don't tell the truth.   The truth is ... we were together for several years ... and in that time, I can't tell you how many times he told me, "No one will want you after me."   I heard it a dozen different ways ... you're so ugly no one will want you ... or ... you're lucky I'll have you ... but it was all the same thing.   And I believed it ... every word. 

For the record ... the only silver lining to someone saying that to you ... is if they tell you enough, you will eventually say to yourself ... being alone the rest of my life would be better than this.

The last night we were together was the 4th of July.  He said I embarrassed him in front of his friends ... and things got bad.  So bad that his friends heard what was going on and broke into our apartment.  He was choking me and it took all three of them to pull him off.   I took the opportunity and got out ... and I didn't look back.

Several years later, my best friend called to tell me that he was in the paper.  The state marshals found him hiding ... he'd beaten his wife so badly he'd almost killed her.   She was in the hospital for weeks.  He went to prison for that ... and then wound up back in when he abused her again.  The only reason she finally left was that the State told her they would permanently remove her children if she had any contact with him.  Even then, his mother begged her to take him back ... at the cost of her own children.

So ... the problem here ... is that even when you get out, things stick with you.  Some things are obvious ... some are more subtle.  For years, I couldn't stand to have anyone touch my neck for any reason ... that's pretty obvious.  A bigger, more subtle problem, however, was trust.  For years I had a lot of short-term relationships because I wouldn't let anyone in ... no one was getting near enough to make me emotionally depend on them.

Even now ... when I'm years removed from him and I don't have nightmares like I used to ... those experiences fundamentally changed who I am.  I don't like to argue ... I'll walk a mile out of my way to avoid a confrontation because I just can't handle it ... my feelings get hurt easily ... but I rarely let people know ... and I don't like to cry in front of people.

Every once in awhile, things still bother me ... I walked out of a movie once because what was on the screen was too real.   And this interview today bothered me.  The basic question it asked was ... can someone change?  I like to think anything is possible.  I read the whole article and thought ... maybe he's the one in a million that will change ... or maybe he's one of the 999,999 that won't.  Who's knows ... it's a gamble ... and the one thing I know for sure from my experience ... a life is too important to gamble with.

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?
Do you ever feel already buried deep?
Six feet under screams, but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
'Cause there's a spark in you?
Katy Perry - Firework