get out alive

I let his opinion of me dictate my behaviour for so long.

he would tell me I was insecure; I was weak, and broken, and the only reason I didn’t trust him was because I was unhappy with myself.

and that’s bullshit.

it was all so meticulously calculated. the way he would strip my layers and poke at the wounds. the way I would feel naked, and cold in his presence; the way that didn’t bother him. he once told me his ex-wife accused him of being emotionally abusive, and for the first time in a year, I felt sympathy for her. because holy shit, yes. so much yes. so much emotional damage, and so little care for how it made me feel. suddenly, I remembered what it felt like to wake up next to someone and feel more alone than ever. I remembered what it felt like for it to hurt to say “I love you”. I remembered the taste of bile in my mouth every morning when I’d wake up, and how the only way for that feeling to go away was to sleep it off, but lord knows I still haven’t learned to sleep.

I try to remember the good days, the early days, when he looked at me like I was the only person in the world. when I would wake up to his mouth on my neck, and his arms wrapped around my ribs. I remember the way he would kiss me, and I wonder what happened for him to fuck me with his eyes closed. I wonder what I did to make him jump out of bed the second he was awake. I wonder when he stopped calling me Lulu, or why it hurt so badly when he did.

I wonder a lot of things, really. I wonder why I was willing to sacrifice so much of my happiness for somebody so negative. he blamed a lot of that on me, but the second we severed the ties, that little black cloud above my head disappeared. and so did the heartburn. and the nightmares. and the feeling of waking up empty. it all went away when he did, and it all seems so perfectly clear, now. I stopped losing my hair, and I stopped crying myself to sleep, and I stopped feeling like the biggest piece of shit on the planet.

I opened my heart to life, and to love. I enjoy the sunshine, and the unknown, and the simple pleasures. so many simple pleasures. I finally feel free to be the human being I know I am, and I’m finally lucky enough to get to do that with somebody who appreciates me. all of me. my neuroses, my heavy heart; my light, my need for adventure. he says “yes!” when I said “let’s do this!”, and he puts his whole heart into every single thing we do. he wants to go places, and do things, and meet people. he wants to wake up next to me, on top of me, inside of me. he looks into my eyes, and he kisses me with his tongue, and I had almost forgotten how good it feels to have a person. I almost forgot that your person should never make you feel the way he had made me feel all those days, all those months, over a year.

moving on has been the easiest thing I’ve done to date. letting go is always the hardest thing to do, until you do it. and then it becomes the easiest, most natural thing in the world. there isn’t a day that goes by where I want it back. there isn’t a day that goes by where I miss the blue of his eyes, or the taste of his skin, or the smell of the home he threw me out of because he needed independence- because he was too proud for love.

I think he may expect me to be sad, or hurt, or jealous. the truth is I’m just happy the nightmare is finally over and I have his hands off me.

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nightlife

there’s a sadness that lives in my chest.

you’re a knockout, he said.

and I felt every little piece of me crumble.

the love of my life has come in and out of my world four times. we have picked up pieces and packed up memories. we have said our hellos and goodbies so many times I forget how to mourn the loss anymore. I’ve said goodbye and I’ve asked him to stay away, finally. I’ve asked him to stop coming in and out of my life if he isn’t prepared to love me indefinitely, unconditionnally. I am incapable of giving myself only to have nothing in return, anymore. loving him was the loneliest I’d felt in years, and every night as we slept, I could feel him drifting away.

I love you, but

I love you isn’t enough. love should never be enough.

happiness has always been an uphill battle for me. I wake up broken every single day and it takes everything out of me to put my pieces back together only to fall asleep and have to start over again. I am aware of this. I work on this very, very hard. I absorb other people’s pain so they don’t have to, but I can’t save everyone. I can’t love someone who doesn’t love themselves.

I have come a long way.

I’ve built a home out of a tiny little house. it’s lonely, it’s quiet. it smells like coconuts, and I wrap my faux fur blanket tightly around me to stay warm, in the evening. the air is cold these days, and the french doors that lead to the balcony aren’t insulated. but I haven’t felt a peace like this for a long time. I haven’t felt safe or free until now. until I said goodbye, forever this time, and felt the weight lift from my shoulders, from my heart, from my home. I loved him, I did. but in loving him, there was a very palpable, very dark cloud looming above me, and it exhausted me to wake up to him every day. I know this, now. I understand the weight of my sadness, finally.

when I look back and think of the sound of his belly laughs as we lay on the couch, or the way his voice sounded when he told me I was beautiful, it hurts. it hurts in a way I was not at all prepared to hurt. I miss our drives out of the city, and drinking coffee in cafes, or how safe it felt to fall apart in his arms. but a very important person once told me I had to stop looking for happiness in the same place I’d lost it. fuck, that person is smart. and thank goodness for them because had I not had a safe place to run to, I’m not sure I could have made it out when I did.

I’m still learning so much.

I’m learning that it’s okay to walk away if it doesn’t feel right. that I have the right to demand what I want for me in this life, and to feel confident in turning my back on it if it isn’t. I should never compromise my happiness because I’m afraid of starting over for the millionth time.

2014 was a big year for me. I’d experienced more loss in twelve months than I have my whole life. I have to stop blaming myself for that. I wouldn’t take any of it back. I never knew love like this. it was real, and it was intense, and it ripped me apart- and my god, was it ever worth it. I have a better sense of self, and more clarity. I feel good, and strong, and able. I loved with every ounce of me, and found the courage to leave when it became toxic. if my past has taught me anything, it’s to acknowledge the strength I have inside of me, and to not ever let someone dim my shine.

don’t dim my fucking shine.

i built you up so high your head was in the clouds (too bad you never looked down)

pain is seeing your abusive ex-boyfriend’s newborn baby nestled quietly in his fiancée’s arms.

that could have been me.

thank god it wasn’t me.

what if it had been me.

i count my blessings : health, family, friends, income, coming out of this alive.

that last one gets me. alive is one thing- unscathed is another. relationships are hard. they certainly can’t beat his worst, but they’ll never come close to his best. everything is a comparison, and everyone i meet has the unpleasant misfortune of attempting to meet my imaginary checklist’s standards.

a few months ago, i’d fallen (hopelessly, madly) for a man. his behaviours were manic, he was a recovering addict- on a steady diet of ephedrine and energy drinks. he slept like shit, and he ate like shit. he was arrogant and obsessive. vain and evasive, and jesus christ, i was sixteen all over again- falling for the bad boy with a broken heart and awful habits. and he needed me- he needed my home, and my money, and my heart.

and i gave it all to him.

and i lost everything.

the steps i’d taken forward, and the path i’d finally paved for myself… all of it was destroyed. he came into my life as quickly as i’d thrown him out of it, and i wasn’t at all prepared for that kind of damage, that kind of heartache.

he is trying to make sense of it all- how i could end it, how i could leave him to fend for himself- homeless and broke and without wheels, because he crashed his motorcycle, and i wasn’t there to pick up the pieces. he’d made his bed, and i wasn’t about to sit around and watch him die. i wasn’t going to let myself become who i’d been.

things have been constant, if not stagnant. i am not unhappy, but i am not elated either. i am in this very obvious, very real state of just being, and surprisingly enough, i am completely okay with that. i am often bewildered by my state of mental sobriety- so very sober from this sickness that is my weakness. maybe that’s why i associate myself best with addicts- me entire past feels surreal : how did so much happen in such little time? how were the most important years of my life plagued by sadness and hurt and regret? how were they plagued by such hatred and misfortune and unhealthy lifestyles?

i was fourteen when i started fucking, fifteen when i’d seen crack and ketamine for the first time, sixteen when i started drinking heavily, seventeen when i moved in with my junkie boyfriend, eighteen when i aborted my baby, nineteen when i had the shit kicked out of me by said boyfriend, twenty when i was raped, twenty one when all of those years finally started to sink in, twenty two when i hit bottom and contemplated a way out, and twenty three when i’d risen from the dead.

i’m twenty four now.

i’m twenty four and i have an incredible job, a beautiful home, and a retirement fund. i’m not over exaggerating when i say i died and came back to life. i was given a second chance to start over and not fuck it up beyond repair. i was given new hope and a breath of air and i kicked my own ass into gear to get here and finally do it right. falling for him was a momentary lack in judgement. it was a moment of weakness. he was the apple and i was very, very tempted. briefly.

i’ve stopped bending over backwards for people. whatever goodness that’s been left in my heart is going entirely into getting back on the horse i was shot off of. i am a victim of my demons, and i am my own enabler, but for the first time in my life, i actually have too much to lose to be reckless. there’s too much at stake to take such absurd risks. i’m worth more, and i deserve better, and i owe it to myself to use this second (third) chance, and do it properly.

this is me letting go

loving them past morning

my father recently told me i can’t save everyone.

he said i’m fragile and sensitive, and i crack and break easy, and it just isn’t my job to fix people who can’t be fixed. and i get it. i want to give all my money to homeless people, and adopt every kitten on the planet, and mother and nurture and mend. i want to sew patches and kiss boo-boos and wrap up leftovers and remove stains. i want to tuck in, and iron out wrinkles, and tell someone everything is going to be okay, and then do everything in my power to make sure everything will be okay.

a friend of mine recently stayed overnight. he was in town for the weekend, and he showed up on my doorstep at one in the morning, and we took off our pants, and got into bed, and wrapped our legs around one another. we kissed slowly, and he ran his fingers up and down my spine, and as we were drifting to sleep, he told me he was afraid of moving home… of coming back to this city, and starting over, and what if this was taking steps back, when all he wanted was to move forward?

i don’t know.

i rolled over, and sighed deeply, and he kissed me three times, softly, on the back of my neck, and that was it. we fell asleep, and woke up still holding on as tightly as we had been, hours before. i usually hate that, but there is just something about his fingertips, and the scent of his chest as i watched the time pass slowly as the sun poured into my bedroom.

i hadn’t kissed him since halloween night, and there is something incredibly unsexy about kissing a man in costume… and yet, this morning, as he buttoned the black plaid to his neck, and laced up his boots, i couldn’t remember the last time i’d been so physically attracted to someone i hadn’t shared more than a kiss with. his hair was a mess, and his eyes were tired, and holy shit, he could not have looked sexier if he even tried. he said he’d see me soon, although i know i won’t see him for months, and that’s fine. i have started being fine with wanting people i don’t have.

because that’s what i do. there is something incredibly romantic about kissing a man and sharing moments few and far between. of speaking to each other every few weeks, and every moment spent talking to one another, or holding one another is so insanely passionate. and i have to stop falling for these moments, and finding importance in these fragments of my life. because they are just that : fragments of a whole.

because that’s just it.

i have to stop trying to save everyone. i have to stop romanticizing these bits and pieces of my life.

and i have been. maybe it’s cynicism, maybe i’m jaded, or perhaps i’ve just run out of patience. whatever it is, there has been this apparent void in my chest, and this dull ache in my heart, and i haven’t quite put my finger on it just yet but i can tell you i’ve been crying. i’ve been doing that a lot, even… and i suppose it’s time to deal with some things. i was recently given the number to a crisis centre, but is it really a crisis if the situations in question happened five years ago, and spanned three years, and is it really even a crisis if half the time i actually feel okay about it?

maybe it’s time i start getting answers.

 

leaving is not enough

leaving is not enough.

there are pieces of an old me, of an old life, lingering still in the present- in my presence. he helped build a piece of me i don’t know how to outgrow. people still refer to him as mine, and i as his, and i hate it. there wasn’t anyone before him, and there hasn’t been anyone since.

i mean… there has.

but not like that.

he was hands, and mornings, and breakfast and sunshine. he was the only way i knew how to start my day if i wanted to finish it at all. he was daytime phone calls, and afternoon naps, and evening bubble baths. he ran the water, and lathered the soap, and washed my hair. when i sink to the bottom of my tub, sometimes i can feel his perfectly manicured nails grazing my scalp, as i slip into a daze, this half-slumber, numbed by the heat of the bath water i always run too hot.

he was farmer’s markets and healthy meals and drinking enough water.

i worry that i am incapable of loving anyone the way i loved him, once. before the anger, and before the abuse, and before he ruined the only good pieces of me i had left. i worry he broke the working parts of my emotional brain- the parts that allow me to feel, and to fall, and to be weightless in love, and in life. the parts of the brain that aren’t clouded by agony. and yet they are. and i can’t fix that.

i worry that strangers can see the tiny black cloud above my head, or the void in the ventricles of my heart. it shrank, that void. it went from gaping vortex to pinhole, and yet i can still feel the breeze. i can still feel the leak. and i worry that nothing could bandage that kind of loss.

people tell me they see independence. they see strength, and courage, and they see the battles i have fought, the struggles i am trying to overcome. they see a warrior. a fighter. a five-foot tall feminist… with eyes sharp like daggers, and words harsh like the first frost. and i feel that. i feel it in my bones. i feel tough, and i walk with conviction, and fuck with confidence.

but when i collapse into the comfort of my own home between my walls full of secrets- and i peel the layers of a me i’ve perfected, all that’s left is this damaged, sad, broken little girl, with eyes black like night, and words soft like clouds. my frail little limbs peeking out from t-shirts that have become too big. my knees bruised like peaches, and my lips cracked like january ice.

there are a few constants in my life.

in november i became an aunt, and everything i have ever known evades me. she (she’s a she!) has brought light to a life shattered by darkness, and i feel whole when she is in my arms- my brother looking at me lovingly, knowing that this little bean has saved me.

i almost left.

it was the summer, and i was in lust with a man in love with someone else. he was five hours from home, and i left a part of me in my city every time i went to be with him. when i finally left, and picked up my pieces back at home, she was born and i was saved. and that was that. my brother sent a message me, thanking me for being here. thanking me for coming home. thanking me for being a part of his daughter’s life.

it all sounds so cliché.

yes my family is incredible, and yes i am luckier than most, and how could a baby (that isn’t mine) change me? but she has, and she did, and that’s that. there isn’t an answer, only a reason, and for that i am grateful. this is progress.

this too shall pass.

 

i’ve lost so much… and what if no one can make up for that?

i don’t know when it’s going to happen for me.

life, i mean.

a few months ago, i was standing in my parents’ kitchen, trying desperately to catch my breath, trying to find the words to explain something i’d been trying to hide from them my entire life. and despite my love for language, and words, and how i know i can twist something ugly into prose that could make someone’s heart stop… it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes, there is beauty in simplicity. there is understanding in blatancy.

“i’m not happy”

i don’t know how many times i can repeat this until it fucking sticks.

i don’t know how to explain to people that a pretty house with nice things, and an incredible job to pay for those things, and a kitten, and friends, and love interests… none of it fills the void. there are holes in my life, there are secrets i’ve locked up, there is discrepancy in everything. i’m a fucking train wreck of a human being. and i ignore it so perfectly.

i don’t know how to reverse the things i was forced to believe. i don’t know how to fucking turn off his voice inside my head, or the fear inside my heart. how is it that i could leave the house, and move on with my life the day after he choked me out? how could i act so normal with his hand prints on my neck and the wobble in my knees from having him shake me so hard? and now, years after i’d left him forever… i sometimes get scared to leave the house, or look in the mirror, or be in certain parts of the city. i won’t pick up phone calls from unknown numbers. i can’t hear a fucking song that reminds me of him without crying. just when i think i’ve started to forget, i remember the black of his eyes in the sunlight, or the pink of his lips when he’d tell me he loved me, or where his pants would sit on his hip line- carelessly.

and it makes me fucking sick.

a few weeks ago, i had dinner with my mother. we sat silently across from one another, and she started crying.

“you loved him, didn’t you? you loved him more than you’d ever loved anyone…”

i lowered my head and nodded.

“he was so handsome”, she said. “how could he be so handsome, and so evil?”, she wanted to know.

i’d like to know that too.

i’d like to know how i was able to look into his eyes and simultaneously see the man i wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and the man i knew i was going to spend the rest of my life running from. how i could look at him and be living both ends of the spectrum so fiercely. how i wanted to hold him and love him, and feel the rightness of his body against my body, and how i wanted to push him away, and hate him, and rid myself of the repugnant feeling of his skin on mine.

how do you make sense of that? how could i feel such a magnetic pull to someone who lived to harm me?

a few years ago, i ran into him at a bar. he was walking out, and i was walking in, and we literally bumped into each other. i froze in terror, as i saw his lip curl upwards. he looked down at me, smirked, and said, “that’s right… RUN.”

and i did.
i fucking ran.
because he told me to.

that same night, i found myself sitting face to face with him at some shitty 50’s diner. it was pouring rain, and we were holding hands, and he told me i was pretty. he told me i’d always been so pretty. and he just sat there, looking at me, hands shaking, and crying. he told me he loved me… that it had always been me. and i knew he was right. it had always been me, and it will always be him. i don’t think i could ever love another man the way i loved him- not after having it ripped from me the way he did. i don’t think i could ever let myself love someone like that ever again… whole-heartedly, and without even trying. honestly and without regret or condition.

at his best, at his worst.
in sickness and in health.
in richness and in poorness.
until death almost did us part.

because  i knew no other way.

because i still haven’t a fucking clue.

that day will come…

last year i hit bottom.

i think i cried more in january and february 2012 than i probably ever have in my life. there wasn’t any specific timing for it, or reasons in particular (other than everything). i’d cry when i put on my pants, and i’d cry when i’d brush my teeth. i’d sit in the shower and let the water burn my skin and stare at the blue tiles, choking back ugly sobs and big tears. i’d burst into tears at the super market, and i’d cry walking down the street. i’d call my best friend and cry on the phone, and i’d show up at his door with tears running down my face. i’d cry when i watched movies, and at text messages, and when i didn’t know what to make for dinner. i’d cry when my cat would yawn, or the washing machine would overflow, or if i couldn’t figure out what TV show i wanted to watch.

i fucking cried all the time.

i was seeing a very, very patient man at the time- someone i certainly didn’t see a future with. someone with a soft touch, and hard words. someone with whom i could pass the time; a distraction. but man, did he give a shit. and thank god for that, because there was a moment where we were sitting on my couch, and i must have blacked out, because the next thing i knew i was on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably, telling him how much i hated my life.

and despite how new things were, and how un-serious it was, he gave a shit.

he picked me up off the floor, and told me i was scaring him, and asked me if i needed him to stay. and despite all the bullshit i have been through, and the horror i’ve survived, and the depression that has been swallowing me whole for years now… i don’t think i had ever EVER let anyone see me that vulnerable.

i’ve cried, and i’ve asked for help, and i’ve broken down in front of people…

but i have never, ever been so brutally honest with someone about how i really felt about myself, about my life… about this life i didn’t want anything to do with anymore. and i get scared to think of that now. that was barely a year ago. ten months is not long enough to fix a broken brain, or a healing heart. it isn’t long enough to rebuild, or to reshape, or to even be okay.

yes, i found a place to live, and yes i got an incredible job, and yes i have met the man of my dreams…

but those aren’t bandaids. they aren’t filler for the void or the cracks. i think that’s what i’m finally realizing now. i have money in the bank, and a beautiful home, and a man who cares for me… but those things don’t heal scars, or wounds. they don’t undo the damage that has been done, or the things that i have lost, or the incredible sadness that has been in my heart since i was a child.

and i don’t know what to fucking do about that.

i get jealous of people who can be happy. of women who meet men who want to marry them. of mother’s and their beautiful children with perfect names. of people who have confidence, and who can take a hit in life, or in love and not feel like their entire world is crumbling at their feet. i’m worried i’ll be angry forever. because the man who wanted to marry me put his hands on me, and fucked other women, and told me every day that i was worthless. and i’m angry because i believed him. i’m angry because i let the fear of being linked to him forever take away the confidence i had in myself to be a good mother. because truthfully : i didn’t need to bear his children to be linked to him forever. i’m bound by fear, and a control he never lost. everywhere i go, i look over my shoulder, and i worry. every new house i move into is one he could potentially find. and i’m fucking sick of it.

i’m big, you’re small
i’m right, you’re wrong
and there’s nothing you can do about it.

i was beaten into believing this since the age of seventeen.

and there is nothing i can do about it.

what do regular seventeen year olds do? i don’t have a fucking clue- i’d honestly like to know. because i was trying to pay bills, and finish high school, and work every single day. i was getting drunk, and sleeping with my boots on, and waiting for my junkie boyfriend to come home. i had to patch and fill holes in the wall, and lie through my teeth. i had to starve for days because there was no food in the shitty apartment we called home. i had to cower and hide in corners with my hands over my ears, screaming for him to stop when he’d go on his rampages. i had to hold my breath, and count to ten, and pray to fucking god that when he’d come through that door, he’d be in a good mood. i had to eat a teacher’s leftover dinner for days because he didn’t want to share. i had to cover up bruises, and learn how to cry quietly. i had to avoid the parts of the city he’d be in, and i had to to apologize when i aborted his baby. i had to heal without him, and i had to deal with the sadness alone because he was too busy getting shitfaced. and worst of all (and somehow the easiest), i had to learn to smile when all i wanted to do was die.

and yeah, i still fucking resent him for that. for all of it. because i was never angry until i met him. i was never vindictive, or hateful, or mean. and now i have this rage inside of me, and it rears its ugly head in situations that wouldn’t normally affect me. and yet here i am, pissed over things that don’t matter, and sick to my stomach over petty bullshit i am bigger than, and hurt because i am too insecure to stand up for myself anymore.

every september the world celebrates another year of him being on this earth, and every september i celebrate another year i made it away from him. when i finally left, i counted the hours, and when i learned to get out of bed again, i started counting the days, and when that became easier i counted the months, and when i finally realized i made it out of this alive, i started celebrating the victory of the years since i was even in contact with him.

i guess that’s a start.

i’m finally starting to forget the sound of his voice, and the smell of his skin, or the liquor on his breath. i don’t remember how tall he is, or his favourite food, or what size shoes he wears. and the second i forget how rough his hands felt wrapped around my neck, or what my insides feel like when i see his face… i know i’ll finally have made it. and i can finally begin to celebrate the victory of becoming whole again.

because that day will come, and it when it does… there will be a fucking party.