Funny this meme would cross my path the other day. I was contemplating along these lines because I had the opportunity to share my past with someone new in my life. I hinted about it and alluded to it, then finally came out and said it: “I am a domestic abuse survivor. An ex tried to strangle me on my 23rd birthday. I’m lucky to be alive today.”
But why the hinting? Why the allusion? Why not simply the unvarnished truth? Why is it still difficult at times?
Details were not needed, so I didn’t go into them. The statement above encapsulated the hell I survived at the end of college and shortly afterwards. It’s not that I cannot talk about the details…if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know them. They aren’t a secret.
I suppose I still have to remind myself I am NOT damaged goods. I have nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s also been a long time since I’ve had to come out and share this verbally. In the back of my mind was the statement made by my former partner-after knowing about my past and knowing me for almost 20 years-he actually said that he could not understand why I didn’t ‘just leave.’
Listen motherfucker…if I felt like I COULD have left, I sure as shit would have. HE KNEW why I didn’t and why I felt like I couldn’t. He knew that, at the time, I felt like I deserved it. He knew I’d been mentally manipulated and emotionally twisted. He knew I had no other place to go, no family to rely on, no one I felt could help me. And yet he STILL made that statement.
I could have almost forgiven him if he’d said that early in our relationship. But after almost two decades? It made my blood run cold.
I wonder if that apprehension in sharing will ever go away. I mean…other things I dealt with regularly have gotten better. I can hug people now. I’m not afraid of crowds because I’m not afraid of being touched by a stranger anymore. I trust my instincts and my gut again. If people don’t ‘feel’ right to me, they are not welcome in my life. So perhaps the day will come that I can look someone in the eye and tell them I’m a survivor while holding my head high…instead of looking down and muttering, or speaking so quickly to get it out that I become tongue tied. Is this another form of “the flinch?”
I don’t know. But I DO know there is hope. And even though I have to remind myself from time to time-I do know I should bear no shame in what I survived. I’m still here. I’m still writing. And I still have hope. As should you, fellow survivors.
As should all of you.