there’s something to be said for clarity;
the only thing that you took from me
- living with lions
most people fear the dark because of the unknown; what they can’t see, what isn’t there.
i’ve always feared the dark based on what i know all too well.
his shadow moved so effortlessly in the darkness of what i casually referred to as our bedroom. it wasn’t ours- i learned early enough not to call anything ours… it made him angry. ours meant permanence, normalcy. it meant giving in.
i don’t know what made me so damn antsy all the time. for a year after he left the first time, i had recurring night terrors. i knew better than to fall asleep without taking sleeping aids or leaving lights on. i was nineteen years old when i started sleeping with easy accessibility to shoes, and waking up in the middle of the night to make sure the door was locked. i took my phone out back when i needed to get my laundry in the neighbour’s basement in the middle of the night. i never left the back door without looking through the peephole, especially after dark.
i would wake up to his hands on me and his breath on the nape of my neck.
and eventually, so did she.
after hours of arguing over our life together, i’d finally had enough. i flushed his drugs, i told him we couldn’t start a family together and i put him to bed. she had already been asleep a few hours and hadn’t witnessed any of the arguing. all i remember is her walking out to the living room and sleeping on the couch in the middle of the night. while i had collapsed in exhaustion, he took it upon himself to do to her what he’d been doing to me for years. he slipped his hands inside of her and breathed heavily on her neck. she pushed and pulled and told him no, no, no.
i didn’t even wake up.
you know, i put up with the pain of loving this man for so long because i was naive, and the fear of being without him (for some reason) killed me more than being with him. i was strong enough to endure him. i was capable of putting up with the regularity of his abuse.
when she finally confronted me about what he’d done to her in the night, i didn’t say a word. i stared blankly at her, turned and walked to my bedroom and sat on my bed in silence. i shuffled in and out of my bedroom as she stood motionless.
say something, she said. what are you doing?
i was doing what i should have done three years prior. i was looking for some damn pants so i could walk downtown and sever all ties with this fucking monster- for good this time.
you look angry. are you mad at me?
i stopped abruptly, put my arms around her, and told her i loved her. she broked down over how she didn’t want to say anything because she knew i really wanted to make it work this time. she knew how much i’d sacrificed and how strongly i believed he could have changed. she just wanted to see me happy, even if it meant keeping this secret to herself.
moments after she’d told me what happened, we were walking together towards downtown. i still hadn’t put on a bra, my hair was a total mess, and i didn’t even have makeup on.
i didn’t give a fuck.
i grabbed her hand, as we speed-walked silently to his work. she stopped about a block away, telling me she couldn’t face him. i kissed her on the cheek, told her i loved her, and that i’d call her later.
the rest is mostly blurry because i was so hopped up on adrenaline. i just remember my ears ringing and my heart pounding in my chest as i stomped up to him and ordered him to the back room. he thought i was kidding, or maybe taking him to the back for a quick fuck. before i knew it, i was yelling at the top of my lungs; calling him a monster, and a rapist. telling him that i can put up with it… that i can take it because i’ve learned how to, but now he’s hurt someone i love. after twenty minutes of yelling at him, and getting bullshit excuses on his behalf, i told him to fuck himself and walked out of there, smirking at his fellow employees.
i didn’t see him for almost a year after that.
after the years and years i put up with that pathetic excuse of a human… after the agony of watching my family and friends try to help me out of that nightmare of a relationship- if you can even call it that… all it took was for him to inflict that pain he inflicted onto me, onto someone close to me.
at what point does that cycle end? i was beaten down so low that i couldn’t even leave him for hurting ME. i couldn’t leave him for destroying ME. i let it wait so long, he ended up hurting someone i cared about.
i still cringe when i think of that night- when i can pinpoint exactly what was going through her mind as he took advantage of her- as he stole the innocence of such a tender, quiet person. as he ripped from her what he’d been ripping from me for years.
and as time passes, i try. i started turning the lights off to sleep, and i check the doors only once. i stopped taking sleeping pills when i lived with andy, and i’ve been trying to get comfortable in the dark. but still- it’s in the back of my mind.
nothing about the darkness is forgiving.