“He is the doer of the bruises, of the pain, of the parts of my life that will never be the same, yet somehow I am the one wading through the aftermath while he feels validated – as though he is the victim.”
There are still days I wonder why he gets to go on with life like nothing happened when my life will never be the same. My life will always be filled with the trauma of his choices. The nightmares. The unidentified triggers. The tears. The knot in my stomach. The feelings of fear. I work through what I believe to be all of my triggers and then another surfaces and blindsides me.
Sometimes my nightmares feel so real, I wake up out of breath, experiencing the same feelings of desperation I had when I was with him. Most of my dreams consist of running into him in public, him cornering me with that smirk on his face while pretending we were old friends. As if we could just move forward with our lives, forgetting that his hands were around my neck – that my body was covered by bruises he made with his hands and his strength.
In my dreams, I freeze in shock at the sight of him. I want to turn and walk away – run away even, but my feet are so heavy I cannot move. I can feel the fear rise inside of me as he approaches. I want to tell him to get away from me or scream, but when I open my mouth I can only whisper. No one hears me. I feel a wave of heat rush over me and vomit rise in my throat. He comes over with that same smile he had when he used to manipulate me and then asks how I am doing. Nonchalant. Casual. Yet there is nothing nonchalant or casual going on inside of me. My mind and body feel as though they are going to implode.
Then my mood shifts to anger. To hatred. The audacity he has to approach me like this after what he did to me – after the hell, he put me through. It’s clear that this is another attempt at power and control. I wake up just before I respond or act, with my heart beating hard and fast. It takes me several minutes to recenter myself in my room – reminding myself I am safe. Those raw emotions and thoughts stuck with me throughout that day like a hidden canker sore. No one can see them, but I am intermittently reminded of their painful presence.
I can be having a great day getting my hair done or going shopping when Twenty-One Pilots comes on the overhead speakers. Instantly my heart skips a beat. My breathing becomes shallow and my thoughts are hijacked by those times I felt helpless and scared for my life. I get sick to my stomach. I still have to immediately change the station when it comes on over the radio. It’s as though my body instinctively reacts to protect itself from the memories. By that point, however, it is too late. My mind has already made the connection. The thoughts and feelings intrude. Yet again, I have to remind myself that I am safe now.
I wonder how many times he has to remind himself that he is safe throughout the day and my guess is not very many, if at all.
He is the doer of the bruises, of the pain, of the parts of my life that will never be the same, yet somehow I am the one wading through the aftermath while he feels validated – as though he is the victim. His friends and family only further perpetuate his feelings of validation. They blamed me. They shared empathy for his struggles. Or worse yet, they said nothing. They remained silent. Silence only made him feel stronger. Silence did not address my pain.
Here I am years later still recovering from the consequences of his actions when he never had to think twice about them.
Photo: Flickr – jmiller291