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.

 

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.

my backwards walk

i don’t want be a bad woman
and i can’t stand to see you be a bad man. 
i will miss your heart so tender
and I will love this love forever.
– cat power

when i left m for the last time, i had this song on repeat for hours, and days, and months.

…it was my anthem. my reason. the only explanation i could justify in finally separating myself from the only life i knew. everything he touched turned to shit. he made me a bad woman by proxy. by the end of the four (worst) years (of my life), i didn’t recognize myself anymore. my family could barely speak to me, and i had severed ties with so many friends only so i could keep my secrets to myself. so i wouldn’t have to explain the bruises, or the holes in the wall, or the destroyed belongings, or why i felt like drinking every single fucking day. it wasn’t only to numb the pain, or to forget. i drank because when i was drunk, i felt alive- something i hadn’t felt in years. it was superficial, of course… but i felt it none the less. i was social, and i laughed, and i would dance, and i made friends, and broke hearts, and i would exude confidence that had been shattered by m.

when i met him, i thought i had fallen in love with my future husband. the man who was going to father my children, and make me breakfast in bed on mother’s day, and spend time with my family, and take care of me when i was ill. i thought our story would stand out, not because of its horror, but because of its beauty. its simplicity. i thought it would stand out because it was special. and it was- at first. it was all of those things, and so much more than i could possibly explain.

i was barely sixteen years old when i saw his darkeyes, and cotton candy pink lips for the first time. he was waiting for a bus, and our eyes locked for a few seconds, and i felt the wind get knocked out of my lungs. this man (so young then) was so quiet- leaning against a wall, smoking cigarettes, his entire body covered in tattoos. my heart stopped, and my palms got sweaty, and i had made up my mind- right then and there- that i was going to have this man. it was a feeling so fierce, i could barely shake it.

our paths didn’t cross for another five months.

and it was the end of my life as i knew it.

had i known then, what i knew now- i’d have trusted my gut.

… but i’m a heart girl, through and through, and although it’s been wrong (time and time again), i followed this coffee-haired, black-eyed, beautiful (so goddamn beautiful) stranger. we followed each other at a party- watching each other from the corner of our eyes, touching hands when we spoke, whispering into each others ears over the music. he had a mohawk, and i could taste the vodka on his tongue when we kissed that night.

that’s how i like to remember him, unfortunately. pure, and young, and gentle. the way he would hold my hand, or touch my lower back when we spoke, or the way he would kiss me- all day, every day. the first time he’d see me, and between sentences, before leaving. he’d kiss my mouth, and my forehead, and my hands, and my eyes. he’d kiss me just to kiss me. his voice, so sweet and so low- almost a whisper. and we made love, believe it or not. he would light dozens of candles in the basement, and we’d kiss every inch of each others’ body. we’d touch and take our time, and really love each other. he’s the only person i’ve ever done that with, actually. he’d drive me home, late at night… holding hands, and kissing at stop lights. he would run my baths, and make me breakfast in bed all the time. he would wash my hair in the shower, and take pictures of me all the time. he’d leave love notes by the bed, and he’d draw me pictures, and write me letters. he’d buy me cards- just because. he would tell me he loved me every single day. we’d lay on the beach in silence, for hours. we’d take walks, and shower together every morning.

he loved me…

a lot. he loved me harder, and stronger, and better than any man has ever loved me in my life. without question, or condition, or doubt. he lived for me- he told me every day that he lived for me. it’s difficult to be loved like that, so young in your life. to be sixteen years old and feel like i knew what the next fifty years of my life would look like- that i’d be this lucky in love for the rest of my life… and then have it ripped from me.

he changed over night.

i look back now… i dig deep for signs, or red flags. and i just can’t find them anywhere. i look back on the first year of our relationship, and i am shattered by confusion. this man- this young, incredible man who loved me, and cared for me, and took care of me every single day… he woke up one morning hating me. hating our life. hating the simplicity of our love and companionship. he woke up fiending for drugs, and wanting to fuck strangers, and taking out his aggressions on me- the only woman who loved him the way i loved him. and that struck me harder than his fist ever did- the way his heart loved me still, but his actions didn’t. the things he would say to me… i can’t even wrap my head around it sometimes.

just the thought of our bed
makes me crumble like the plaster
where you punched the wall beside my head
– ani difranco

i stayed for three years longer than i should have.

out of fear, out of survival, out of naivety and guilt. and when i finally left, i never mourned the loss. i celebrated the victory. after a few weeks of drinking myself to sleep, forgetting to eat and shower, and not even stepping foot outside of my own bed… after weeks of anguish and fear, i finally celebrated. i celebrated for days, and then weeks, and months, and years. i spent so much time being angry, that i forgot to be sad. i spent so many years celebrating the funeral of a monster, of the demon that was our poisonous relationship… that i forgot to feel pain and sadness over the loss of the year i’d spent with the m who loved me. i forgot to mourn the loss of my first love. the loss of the baby we almost had together. the loss of the life we’d started to build. the loss of my dignity, and self-respect, and confidence- things i am still working on, years later… trying desperately to rebuild.

i don’t know why it’s surfacing now- why all this pain has boiled over, and why i feel disconnected again. i don’t know why i feel the need to mourn now that i am finally safe, and happy, and healthy- trying to put my pieces back together after being derailed. but it’s happening and i can’t control it anymore. i can’t help but feel angry that my first love was lost, and that i’ll never have anything good to say about him. i can’t help resenting him. i can’t help resenting myself and the decisions i made not to have our baby, or build my own life with that child- safe from her father and his demons. and don’t get me wrong- i’m happy with every choice i’ve ever made when it comes to m… i didn’t have the tools then to understand what abuse was, or how to escape it. all i knew was that i needed to save myself, and it’s only when i was finally ready to be without him that i gathered the courage to stand up to him, and walk away forever.

and it makes me sick, you know… to feel sad over this. to miss (the beginning of) that love.

but now that the shock has worn off, and the anger has subsided… i’m left with this incredible sadness, and self-pity. i’m overwhelmed by anxiety and confusion. and i never want this space to be censored. i hope writing about m won’t ever stop feeling cathartic… but there are some stories i’ve burried so deep inside of me- certains things i’ve never had the courage to share, or the words to even describe things that happened- and i need now (more than ever) to purge those stories from inside of me. to rid them from my bones, and shove them in a metaphorical bag, and then set that bag on fire. i need to share my truths with a professional, so i can get some closure, finally.

real closure- not the kind where i tell everyone i’m okay, and i belittle him as a human being, and share his indecensies… i mean real closure, and healing, and finally closing a book that has been open for seven goddamn years. and i realise that a lot of my behaviours in life (and love) stem from surviving abuse- but i can’t let those behaviours define my relationships any longer. i can’t let my secrets dictate my happiness, or my future.

i just forget what that kind of blissful happiness feels like. i feel like i got the private screening to the unatural, disturbing ways of the human race, and i’m rattled. i’ve seen too much, and i’ve felt too much, and i know too fucking much about what it feels like to be torn apart at the hands of a bad man. and that makes me incredibly, and unforgivingly sad…

and i want to fix that.

metal heart

you know that you are not alone, i need you like water in my lungs-
this is the end,
this is the end.

– brand new

there is something to be said for emotional resilience.

 

say what you will.

maybe he made me soft, pliable.

maybe.

whatever it was, it’s over now. i’ve washed my hands clean of all of it.