I stared at my empty cup of coffee. I could feel the eyes of the people who surrounded me on my back and my sharp ears could catch the words they were whispering. The tears were starting to well up in my lifeless eyes and I was too drained to even care. I was done. I was done with the people who thought they knew my lifestyle, the people who thought they knew what I was going through and the people who were too quick to judge. But most of all, I was done with him. In my nights he was a monster and in my days he was the same. There were times where I could not distinguish the fiction from the reality of my nightmares.
I would wake up every day hoping and praying that the familiar dreams would fade away along with my sadness, pain and tears. However, that flame of hope that I was relying on inside of me slowly flickered away until there was none left and there was nobody but me to blame for that. I smiled to myself pathetically. All the times he said he would change and I believed him. I believed everything- the insincere apologies, the false promises, and the fake tears. I guess I had experienced first-hand the meaning of the expression ‘blinded by love’. In that moment I felt weaker than I could have ever imagined someone could feel, and that makes a big statement considering the depth of one’s imagination. I felt stupid. How was I so oblivious? I shook my head. No, this was not my fault. It was not my fault that he didn’t choose to indulge himself and cherish the relationship. No. Power and malice were the drugs of his choice and looking back now I should have been able to notice the way they lit up inside of him with a sickly glow that shone in those languid eyes.
With nonchalant ease he crushed every ounce of self-worth I managed to gather. The abusive words that came out of his mouth cut like a knife but seeing how mentally distraught I was didn’t satisfy him enough. No, he felt the need to prove his authority by destroying me even further. He never succeeded to disguise the delight he felt after dealing one of his favourite blows. My lips quivered at the reminder. You may ask me ‘Why were you with such a guy? Why was it so hard to walk away?’ And I myself do not have a distinct answer to those questions but what I will say is that it is a lot easier for a person looking into a situation to have clear, strong thoughts about what they would do if they were put into that scenario but being actually involved in it entails a whole different perspective. When every decision you make could impact your life dramatically or even end your life, you start to rethink everything you ever set your mind to doing no matter how stubborn you used to be. When you’re foolishly in love, the rare moments of affection he shows for you makes your mind dismiss the bad things automatically. You crave for that feeling again. Therefore, no matter the judgement from outsiders, it is highly unlikely that your sanity will still be intact whilst going through such an experience that I did.
There were many days and many nights that my scarred body prevented me from ever forgetting those instances of abuse. I tugged at the collar of my jumper looking down at the freshest bruise. The lining of my neck had now been stained with a purple hue. I stroked it gently, wincing at the pain and the flashbacks it brought me. You want to know the story of this one? I’ll share it with you. It was the night of his twenty first birthday and I had arranged a surprise house party to celebrate the occasion. However, he had different ideologies on how a 21st birthday should be remembered. And obviously that entailed hitting the clubs and returning home at 3am completely drunk. That was something I never wanted to experience again after last year. Letting him get drunk until the early hours would be like wishing the hospital life upon myself and I could not let myself go through the same violent night again. So how did I get this bruise, even after being so on guard? Well, this is the story…
I awoke that morning to soft sheets, and the morning light trickled in through the gaps in the curtains. I shed myself of the remaining glimpses of that dream and let myself soak in the warmth of the duvet before opening my eyes to face the day. I tilted my head to see him buried under the sheets in a deep slumber. At least one of us can sleep that well, I thought to myself. I gently got out of bed making sure I didn’t wake him up and then did the usual morning routines. After, I carefully wrapped the new shoes I had bought for him until it looked perfect. I could not afford to mess this day up. I cautiously cooked the eggs and bacon until its scent wafted all around the house. And to cut a long story short, I served him breakfast in bed, gave him his present and then allowed him to go out with his friends whilst I prepared the house for the evening.
Soon, more and more guests started to arrive until the whole house was practically filled with people. I dreaded the thought of all the mess I would have to clear up. I looked at my watch. It was time his friends had him home. I heard the slam of car doors and a key slowly turned the lock to open the front door. “SURPRISE!” we all shouted in sync. I could register the shock in his face before he could hide it. The expression then turned into a smirk as the turnout boosted his self-confidence due to his popularity. That was when the party began. Well, for everyone else. I was on duty to make sure nothing in the house was touched. Nothing could end up being broken otherwise that would just give him an excuse to get angry. More and more people started to leave as the night progressed into the early hours of the next morning. Finally, there was nobody else left but the two of us.
I went towards him, about to embrace him in a hug which would hopefully take away my exhaustion. Today was a success. Suddenly, he grabbed my wrist with a grip which was extremely firm as though he wanted to cut off my blood circulation. My knees were now weak and I could have collapsed just out of fear in that moment. His other hand snatched at my collar and pushed me until my back was against the wall. His breathing turned from quiet to regular to a panting gasp as though he had been bottling up anger that could last a lifetime. He sucked at the air like it had suddenly become thick and was now almost too difficult to draw in. He became deaf to the soothing words that I uttered in attempt to get him to calm down. My heart was beating faster and faster and I could feel the rush of blood zoom through my body. Do I fight back or would that make things worse? Would I be able to escape or would I face a punishment even worse than the initial? I knew that the next stage of his tantrum would be to smash whatever he could lay his hands on and I only had seconds to react. What had I done? He pressed his body onto mine and whispered in my ear with a voice that was unrecognisable- as though he had been possessed. “You didn’t even celebrate my birthday. What were you doing? Babysitting the people? This was my big night and you didn’t even care. Well, I’ll make you regret that. I’ll make you regret that…”
In my head I was screaming, crying for help. I was begging that the next door neighbours would hear and protect me. But in reality, my body stood paralysed. My mouth wouldn’t move. I no longer had control. Before I knew it his fist was attacking my body and I was not able to defend myself. The pain it brought to me was indescribable. The agony I felt was flowing out of every pore and a cry so raw escaped from my mouth. It was as if every sound I made was set to the frequency that could shatter a heart to pieces. But not his. He ignored my cries of pain, he ignored the blood, he ignored my vulnerability yet he focused on the power of his punches. At this point, I had given up. The punches now felt like a normal occurrence to me and I was ready to give everything up. From the corner of my half closed eyes, I saw an arm swinging towards my neck and I felt my legs weaken and my mind go blank as the punch connected.
My eyes felt heavy as they flickered open. The first image I saw was the wooden floor. What had happened to me? Suddenly, my eyes widened and became alert as the memories poured through my head. I could see through the window that his car was gone and that meant it was time to escape. I tried to move to get up but my body was aching and stopped me from doing further damage. Moving without pain was just one thing I used to take for granted. Today, my muscles feel as though they have been replaced by aging rubber bands- thick and twisted. Slowly, I got up with the image of me getting away from this place as my focal point…
And that’s how I ended up here- at this coffee area just outside the courtroom. I sit here eyeing my backpack filled with the tiny amount of belongings I have, waiting for the closure that will allow me to go somewhere far away from this place, something that would allow me to start afresh. I was not going to allow myself to be defeated by what I thought was a shred of sympathy within me. I would not allow myself to go back to what was wrong, what destroyed me. I would not allow myself ever to go back to what I thought was love, what I had thought was normal as I knew no different. However, in some ways, I have to thank you. Because now I’m better, now I know what I deserve, now I know what to expect in such a big world. And most of all because now I know my heart is made of armour. I saw the door open and our eyes connected. I looked away and let him walk straight pass me as he was being escorted to prison. 5 years is a long time. And in prison, it’s more than enough time to change a person’s morals completely…