I was so naive, I was so gullible. I swallowed every lie like it was honey lemonade…Only later did I taste the poison that was disguised as sweetness. I remember when he pushed me down the stairs in the middle of a fight. He swore I fell, and for some reason, I believed his statement over my memory. My memories were always a bit fuzzy around the edges anyhow. Every day I walked to work, I had to walk past the drywall hole that was perfectly formed to the ball my body formed when falling. I never called maintenance to fix it because how could you explain that? I was holding onto the neck of his t-shirt, and he deliberately pushed me down the stairs. That was the first time.
I remember trying to leave for work, and he wouldn’t let me. When I got home that night, he had flipped the kitchen table (one of those old ones from the fifties with chrome legs and base), the chairs I had set in front of the TV to feel more homey, and the kitchen chairs over. I hadn’t known what to say.
One night, he threw glass plates at me because I asked him to wash them. They were dirty, and I was having friends over the next day, they needed to be washed, and I didn’t have the energy. I remember the scratches formed in the closet door I cowered against, but I didn’t realize scars would form on my heart as well.
Another night, he threw my favorite blue bottle at my head, and the picture frame behind me shattered. I spent days picking the glass out of my hair, finding shards pricking into the back of my neck. He reassured me he loved me, and he was sorry.
My birthday, and I asked him to vacuum, he told me I pushed him too far, and he twisted my arm halfway up my back, and it was limp the rest of the week. I thought maybe it was broken, but I didn’t have insurance to cover broken limbs, so I just let it hang by my side.
This isn’t poetic nor is it fiction. These are just memories, solid and unwavering.
The day we fought and he stuck a razor blade to my throat, and when I locked him out of the apartment, I looked out the peep hole to see him waving a gun, threatening to shoot unless I let him in. I reluctantly let him back in.
The spot he punched me in the back of the head so many times that I’d get headaches (I still get headaches) years later in that exact spot. The time he punched me there, and I saw stars, his friend, the heroin addict, just stood there with a dumb grin on his face and told him, “Let’s get out of here before she calls the cops.”
The apologies, the begging, and the pleading, the stupid fucking puppy dog eyes begging me to forgive him, and I did so many damn times because he made me feel beautiful sometimes.
The nights he wouldn’t stop even though my insides were raw and I begged him to “please stop” and that I was tired. He wouldn’t fucking stop.
The day he kicked in the door because I was taking too long to get ready. I only wanted to look pretty because I was meeting his parents for the first time.
The time he choked me so hard that I screamed over and over again so much so his friend who was on the phone with him begged him to stop. When he choked me the final time, I blacked out, and he shoved me onto the bed. I awoke to police cars’ sirens screaming in the night, and his friend begging me to never tell him that he called the cops for me.
Now, his friend is dead. Heroin overdose.
The times he would tell me that I pushed him too far, that I wouldn’t stop, that it was my fault.
The times I believed him.
None of these words are lies. None of these words are stories. My heart is breaking from memories. I just want to move on, but PTSD grips me like fingertips, and I can’t let go.
The man in my life now wants me to let go. I’m trying, but it’s like releasing a bird that’s not yet ready to fly. My wings are stunted, I can fly for only so long before I come circling back to these damn memories.