A Letter to my Abuser
A stream of consciousness from the day after a tear-filled night
“Is this ok?”, she asks herself for the hundredth time, sitting in her car, stomach rumbling violently. Too weak to drive, too numb to think. But she knows if she doesn’t leave to get the morning coffee soon, she’ll never function.
He’s done it again. The “love of her life”. Another unconscious late night. What started as a lovely evening quickly turned grey. As a casual conversation that would have been commonplace in a healthy relationship soured everything and drummed up his demons without warning. Without warning. There’s so much fear and anticipation that comes from any punishment “without warning”. She knows well. She’s been physically abused, and watched her pets evolve from the fear of it too. They would begin innocent, loving, warm. After one too many beatings without knowing what they’d done wrong, they’d react violently: teeth barred, growling and foaming at the mouth, tail between their legs at the kindest touch.
She’s been trying to explain her fears to him for weeks but he doesn’t understand her. He hasn’t seen the way he gets. The darkening of his usually blue irises. The sick and angry, almost murderous look on his face. The incessant repetition feels like torture after all this time.
It’s like sitting under a bright light in a stark and empty confession room, praying they find the right guy so you can go home. But after all, 24% of people exonerated as innocent by DNA evidence have already made a false confession. Why is that? Fear of the interrogation maybe? Jury’s don’t like to believe that someone would admit to something they didn’t do. But jury’s don’t understand what it feels like to be scared and alone, with someone threatening, name calling, and asking the same questions for now the hundred and second time. Bringing back every terrified moment of your childhood.
He won’t listen. She knows that every day is a ticking time bomb to the next incident. But she never knows how bad the next time will be. She cowers in the most joyous and mild of moments, afraid to breath too fully and watch the glass ceiling of happiness crash down on them both in an instant.
Still sitting in her car, she recalls things she’s heard her mother clamor over the years. Her father “never let her mother have friends”. He “never let her go anywhere”. She can’t actually picture whether the statements were true. Surely she saw her mother out with friends. Surely she watched her mother go to the salon, to the coffee shop, to concerts and movies. Her mother complained her father “wouldn’t let her dress the way she wished”. And for this, she secretly and silently wished herself. Her mother went out in public half-dressed in wild patterns, and skin tight, clinging fabrics. It drew attention to them all in a way that was far less than admirable. The girl wanted to disappear. But she never saw truth in what her mother was saying. After all, her mother went as far as an affair on her father after 12 years of marriage. Her father, still in love, ran away. When he returned, she watched him cry for the first time she’d seen since the day she was born. And though he punished her for her mere resemblance to her mother, she comforted him and loved him for an assumed honesty her mother never seemed to possess. Her mother hardly seemed a victim or captive, though she tried in many sick, codependent ways to convince others she was. Her mother was always terribly fearful. She never chose to have adventures, to travel, to have a real hobby. She alienated her friends through judgement and frequent cat fights. She seemed to want nothing more than to raise young children and complain. The girl despised her mother’s way of living, and fought tooth and nail over the years to ensure she never ended up like her. Yet, in the past five days, after catching herself repeat her mother’s complaints in near verbatim, she’s questioning the truth.
She wonders whether she really does relate to her mother, or whether she’s found a person to fulfill the stories her mother conjured, about fear and allowing love to trap you in a dungeon of male control.
One thing is certain: she holds tight to never repeating her mother’s life-destroying affair. Though, she seems to find lovers who don’t share the sentiment. Her current lover himself is guilty, though she’s been trying her damndest to forget it through all of the tear-filled nights under to hot lamp of the interrogation room. She is still holding out for the karmic relief she hopes eventually comes from doing what her heart believes are the “right” things. “But you’re a liar!” She recalls his voice from the night before. “I KNOW you are”. She crumbles inside today, feeling his identity of her is overpowering her own truth and light.
She searches her soul for things she’s done over the years to deserve this. She internally relives and punishes herself again, for guilt she thought she had long forgiven. “I researched and found information on lists about liars and you have it all!” he’d said. Surely, the 6 years she’d spent studying human behavior and body language would mean nothing in comparison to a single google search in a heated moment. There was no telling him that the signs of lying and the signs of fear are fiercely similar. Though she’s attempted to tell him many times how scared she feels inside. It means nothing to a man on the war path.
He smiled a haunting grimace and she wanted to smile back, confused by his expression. Unsure if he was breaking through the demon’s hold. But no, it was a false flag. He waited for return smile as admission of “guilt”. Tears pour down her face instead. She’s tried relentlessly to retain them every time. But failing to remain strong, he always cracks her. There is no remedy for these moments but the hope of sleep.
She now starts the ignition of her car, still hopeful for an apology and a new day. Wondering if coffee will fix it. Knowing well, this is not the end.