dark, you can’t come soon enough for me

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.

she wasn’t.

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.


they’ll never hurt you like i do

damn it all, i am just sad
everything’s staying as fucked up
because all that i used to have
burned out in jar like a lightning bug

– the polar bear club

i’m not sure i can pin-point exactly when i fell in love with m. i don’t know if it happened when i was watching him boil pots of water on the stove and carry each of them up one by one to draw us a bath after our long winter walks back to his mother’s house. i’m not sure if it happened while watching him pick out his clothes and dress himself every morning. i can’t remember if it happened while watching him light every candle in his bedroom and put on our song before he laid down to kiss every inch of me. i do remember though, that after a few weeks of dating, he bought me a card with a picture that said “you are my sunshine” on it- inside he thanked me for being me, for absolutely no reason at all. he did that a lot- bought me cards for no reason, drew me pictures while he was at work, and took me on dates. i can’t quite put my finger on when it was that i fell out of love with him, either. i’m not sure if it was watching him cry alone on the sidewalk as he told me he’d cheated on me for the first time. i can’t remember if it happened every time i saw the plaster from our walls crumble next to me as he put his fist through it over, and over as i cowered in the corner, crying and begging him to stop. it may have happened moments before everything went black as he pushed onto my throat, with his thumbs. it may have happened after stepping out of a hot shower and catching a glimpse of my reflexion in the mirror for the first time in days- black bruises on my collar bones, eyes red and swollen, face drained of any real emotion. i do remember though, when i stopped giving a shit, when i stopped having nightmares, when i stopped giving into him.

there are many memories i have of m stored in the back of my brain- but there are so many more things i can’t dig out. so many things have been partially erased, as if to save me the pain of remembering. it’s frustrating: trying to put the pieces back together in order to remember clearly enough to forget. how do you forget something you’re missing pieces of? how do you put those demons to rest if you’re forgetting the worst parts?

i’m not sure what my mind has decided to keep from me- and as frustrated i get, these past few days just proved to me how grateful i am to have that ability; the ability to block certain details and memories from my brain enough to try and move forward. these past few nights before finally drifting to sleep, i remember the smell of a stranger’s clothes- and the twisted knot in the pit of my stomach when i woke up to that scent, and realized he’d been in my home. i remember how gnarly the whiskey tasted as i pounded it back, shot after shot. i remember the confident smirk plastered on his face as i danced. i remember, i remember, i remember…

i don’t know what the fuck i remember.

these past six months have been more blury than any memory i have. maybe leaving andy was harder on me than i’d lead on. not because i miss him (which i do sometimes, for the record), but because andy sheltered me. not in an over-protective, jealous boyfriend way… but because he protected me from myself. the people who know me best have told me repeatedly that i have a destructive personality; i don’t just do bad things and live with the consequences… i get lost in my emotions and my mistakes, and completely destroy everything in my path. andy had so much good in him it over-flowed, and filled me with that positive need to be better. he pointed me in the right direction without even knowing he was doing it. and when i moved out of our home and needed to build myself from the ground up again, i got lost. i left the best part of me in that house, i left the best parts of me with andy- and that’s finally clear now.

my mother remembers things for me, sometimes. when i decided to find another place on my own after moving out of me and andy’s house, she remembered what happened to me the last time i lived alone. she remembered visiting and finding weeks’ worth of dishes piled on the counter, the cat box over-flowing in the kitchen, the bottles of empty liquor scattered in the apartment, the clothes all over the floor in my bedroom… she remembers how easily i disconnected from life. i mourned such loss, alone.

i’m trying so hard to dig myself out before i get there again. i’m trying not to beat myself up for what i can’t remember. i’m trying to be a better version of myself, but so much of those memories have been erased.

memory is funny like that.