The Eye of the Tiger, Part 2

Chapter 2 – Anger
A Five Part Series, Part 1

I’ve an image in my pocket
Of some dark demon
That temptation brought to life
And it chokes all of my breath out
I’m scratching and screaming’
‘Til morning comes to night

Melissa Etheridge

Numb. Broken.  Angry.  Alone.  Scared. Ashamed.  Guilty. Silent.

I had just started seeing someone only a couple of weeks before it happened and even though I didn’t know him that well yet, I knew he wouldn’t understand.  Something in me knew he would be very angry and jealous knowing I had been touched by another man.  I said nothing.

I pretended all was fine.  How was your weekend? – he asked when I returned.  Fine.  It was fine.  And life carried on.  Job, school, new boyfriend.  He moved into my apartment.  Then he slowly took over my already shattered life.

I did a good job of convincing myself that what had happened to me wasn’t a big deal.  I didn’t have any outward injuries – at least nothing that I couldn’t easily cover up or attribute to a weekend of sports.  I never saw a doctor…at least not until I found out I was pregnant.  I was pretty sure that it was my boyfriend’s – at least that’s what I told myself – but I guess I’ll never know for sure.  He was ambivalent.  He was annoyed.  He was completely unfeeling.  I should have paid more attention to those signs.  I had an abortion.  He didn’t care.  It was simply an inconvenient interruption in his life.  I slipped further into my hell, but still – life carried on.

As I got to know him better, I liked him less, but needed him more.  I often saw the rage within his family.  They hit each other.  They screamed obscenities at each other.  They hated each other most of the time.  Pushing and shoving and punching were acceptable forms of communication.  At first, when he got mad at me he’d just disappear.  And I quickly learned that if I made him angry, he’d leave.  He couldn’t leave.  What would I do?  I was unlovable.  I was used and felt unlovable by everyone but him.  He told me that no one would ever love me like he did, but he never knew why I believed him.  If I can’t have you, no one can.  The broken and desperate me thought that was sweet.  I know now there’s nothing sweet about that.

He was full of rage.  He was a bully.  He was a bigot, a racist and a homophobe.  I’m none of those things but I learned to just keep my head down and be quiet.  Just shut up.  He had an explosive temper – uncontrollable and terrifying.

Don’t be too smart.
Don’t be too good anything… and for sure don’t EVER be better than him.
Don’t share opinions unless they are the same as his.
Be compliant.
Be a good girl.

Yet I stayed.  I stayed because I believed that NO ONE ELSE WOULD HAVE EVER WANTED ME.  I was damaged.  I was soiled.  I was dirty.  But I also needed to be protected.  I needed to feel safe.  And I needed to be with someone who was capable of fighting for my life.  Despite my misery, I believed that he gave me two ‘gifts’.  He made me believe that I wasn’t so disgusting that I could still be loved by someone and I knew his rage could protect me.

But there was a price for those gifts.  It wasn’t long before he isolated me from my close friends and family – the people who didn’t buy his shit.  They thought he was an idiot and he knew that they didn’t like him.  My time away from him grew more restricted and less frequent.  I knew he sometimes had me followed.  He wore me down.  He made me feel helpless.  He laughed when I was sad. I was little more than his servant.

Still, I had a job and went to school – pretending, lying – hiding my hell.

Then memories of my attack started to surface – first as nightmares and then as random panic attacks where I’d curl into a little ball and hide.  They were triggered by intimacy or anger and fear.  I can’t explain, but I had sort of forgotten about the assault.  I didn’t totally forget – I knew it happened, but it was as if I wrapped the details into a neat package that was clean and concise and easy to contain.  But I think the abuse in my home started to unravel them.  I started to understand my feelings of shame and worthlessness better; I began to understand why I stayed.

My relationship created the perfect storm of emotions and memories colliding in an unavoidable explosion of rage when it all came to the came to the surface.  I was so fucking angry at the world.  Why me? I was furious at my attackers for not killing me when they had the chance.  Why did they let me live?  Why did they make me live and force me to settle for a miserable life and a loser like him?  I was the victim and yet, I was the one in prison.  My brain was in overdrive.  All the pain that I had shoved down and forgotten was back.  I was beyond angry.  I hated everyone.  But I hated myself more.  I wanted to die, but I was trapped with this monster.

I started rebelling.
I stopped being quiet and compliant.
I stopped being a good girl just to keep the peace.

And our relationship escalated to physical abuse.  When he pushed me, I pushed back harder.  I would scream  THEN JUST KILL ME – YOU MOTHERFUCKER!  He threatened it many times – reminding me that if he squeezed just a bit tighter, he could strangle my breath away for good.  He reminded me that if he wanted to, he could beat me dead with his bare hands.  Good – I thought.  I’d finally get some peace and he’d go to prison and get what he deserved.

Once I stood up for someone who he was bullying.  He yelled and sent me away like a child to my room.  Motherfucker. Later, when he screamed at me some more – furious that I had defied him in front of his friends – I started yelling back and didn’t stop.  He punched me in the nose.   I sat there quiet and stunned – choking on my own blood and he just told me to stop making a mess.  Motherfucker.  Later he was very apologetic; he told me that he just “had to hit me to make me be quiet”.  And it was an ‘accident’ that he hit my nose – that it was my fault because I moved as he was swinging.  I stayed.  I hated him, but I stayed.  Besides, where would I go? I continued to hide my hell and my bruises.

Months passed, the fighting continued and I started spending more time with a friend who lived in another city.  She knew what a monster he was and she was trying to convince me to leave him.  Soon I met someone – a distraction – in the city where she lived; we talked on the phone a lot and I would see him when I visited my friend.  I suppose I was cheating on my boyfriend, but by then I was sleeping in the spare room, door locked with a knife under my pillow so I didn’t feel particularly guilty about it.

My boyfriend knew I was slipping out of his control so he started stalking me when I wasn’t with him – following me and going through my things.  He began unraveling…panicking.  He started calling numbers on the phone bill that he didn’t recognize and posing as a utility company to find out who was on the other end.  The arguing and fighting continued to escalate.

One weekend when I was visiting my ‘distraction’, my friend called.  She was frantic.  He had made several calls to her family’s home – threatening to track me down.  They begged me not to go home – that he was going to hurt me if I did.  Then it got real.  I knew at that moment that if we had another bad altercation, I was completely capable of killing him.

I can kill him.  I will kill him.  I will not feel bad about killing him.  I am the monster now.

I had my mother meet me at our apartment when I got home that Sunday and collected as many of my things as quickly as I could.  It must have looked like the place was burgled when he came home – ransacked and torn apart – except that only my things were gone.  He called me that night, crying and begging me to come back.  Pathetic loser. Still I didn’t tell my mom what was going on except that he had a bad temper and I needed to leave.  I told her the bruises on my neck made the last time he choked me weren’t a big deal.  And I’m fine – just fine. I had gotten so good at lying.

To be continued…
*This five-part series will be featured each Thursday in October.

About The Author

SDFMy story began 20 years ago.  It began with a sexual assault – all because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then my broken soul left me vulnerable to another predator – an abusive boyfriend.  Posting this story will finally end my silence; I will finally be free.

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9 comments

  1. My heart breaks as I read your story. No one deserves that kind of treatment.

    1. Thank you Behindthemask. While it was horrible and it took me a long time to heal, I am a much stronger and healthier person now. And I have a mission and that’s to make sure my girls never feel unworthy of love.

      And thank you for sharing too.

      1. They’re lucky to have you 🙂

  2. I’m so glad that you are alive and sharing your story but so sad that you have had to experience such violence and abuse. That is hell on earth and no one should have to go through that.
    What struck me the most when I read through this was how matter of fact you made it sound. Because that was your everyday reality. It was normality. Yet you knew that what was happening to you was wrong because you hid so much from others.
    Now you are not hiding and you are shouting out your freedom for others to follow. That is amazing and so are you.
    Take care 🙂

    1. I am glad that I am alive and well too!

      You’re right, it was matter of fact and normal. My feelings had long since shut down so it was easy to just go through the day to day like a robot. Honestly, it wasn’t until I wrote these posts that I realized what I went through…seeing it in print was just as shocking to me. But it has given me a tremendous feeling of closure to finally understand my past and ultimately the present-day me better. Life is good!

  3. his was heart breaking….But it is impressively written If fiction, and if not and It happened in reality, I feel sad and sorry 😦

  4. […] Chapter 3 – Anger A Five Part Series, Part 1, Part 2 […]

  5. […] 4 – Depression A Five Part Series, Part 1, Part 2, Part […]

  6. […] 5 – Acceptance A Five Part Series, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part […]

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