I Can't Remember

by Elizabeth Clay 6 months ago in trauma

A story of domestic abuse and running.

I Can't Remember

I can't remember the day that I left. I can remember the days that led up to it. I can remember seeing red. Everything around me felt surreal and blurry, blurry, and red. I used to think that was a figurative saying, but it wasn't, not in my case. The entire room was cast in red.

I think I shut down emotionally. I remember telling myself that I had to throw away my feelings, my emotions, my empathy, because I was under assault by everything from tirades of anger and screaming so much so that phlegm, dishes, and furniture were being projected at me, to a man that was then crying uncontrollably on his knees, begging me to not hurt him and destroy the family.

I had to not feel.

And I didn't ... even when he threatened to end his life.

I couldn't feel anything. There was nothing left in me to feel.


I remember my attempted escape one day, when he had a chance meeting in his home office with someone and they had shut the door. I remember my heart pounding in my chest and realizing this was my one chance to escape. I grabbed nothing but my two toddlers, the keys to the one car we had, my purse, and ran out that door so fast that everything was a blur. I never buckled a car seat so fast, as I heard the sounds of storming feet, and the bellow of his voice carrying through the house after me.

He must have heard. I slammed the kid's door, and bolted for the driver's side, when he grabbed my arm, throwing me back from the car onto the lawn. It was then, that I screamed. I was outside. "Help me! He's hurting me!"

Someone please save me! We lived in a suburban housing area, people were close by, surely someone would hear and help me, but no one did.

I remember bolting off that lawn screaming down the road at full speed, like a horror movie, but I'm small, and this man towered over me. I remember him grabbing me.

It hurt.

I don't remember the rest of that night.

I remember the days after I left him, when he'd be banging on my apartment windows at 3 am, screaming at me to let him in. I remember my nerves jumping so badly that I couldn't stop shaking for hours. I remember the 145 text messages sent in one night ripping apart my character and threatening me if I didn't answer him or return. I remember him showing up at the park I had taken the boys to, charging over to us with that wild angry look in his gaze. I remember the feeling of terror, as I scooped up the two toddlers who were now screaming and crying, as I desperately tried to run, buckle them into car seats, and take off before his furious face appeared in my driver's side window with his first in tow slamming on that window as I peeled out of that parking lot with him running along behind us until I was too far out of sight for him to reach.

I remember jumping at every single white car or van that passed me on the road or I saw in the grocery shop parking lot, because that was the color of his van. I remember being scared while at any public store, because we shared the same neighborhood and he could be anywhere at any time. I remember living in constant fear and always looking over my shoulder any time I went anywhere.

But I don't remember the day I left him. I don't know how my parents got there. Had I called them? I didn't have a phone. He wouldn't allow me to have one and I wasn't allowed outside the house and he worked from there. They lived on the other side of the country. How did they get there? Did I finally manage to run away? I wouldn't have left the boys and he wouldn't have let me just walk out that door.

I can't remember.

Elizabeth Clay
Elizabeth Clay
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Elizabeth Clay

Freelance Writer

See all posts by Elizabeth Clay