I think I may have drifted off for a moment when I was suddenly awakened from the pounding above me. It felt safe and warm at first, but now days the rocking back and forth was seemingly relentless. It was as if the little bubble around me could burst at any given time and all hell would break loose. The swishing around me made my heart beat faster—faster and faster each day. I don’t know what falling felt like, but maybe this was it—maybe this was what people felt in that last millisecond before plummeting from a building 1000 feet above ground level.
I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew we were in trouble.
I had a choice to make. What would buy me the most time, I wondered? Different day, same question—how much more can I take? Less than one month had passed since I left the emergency room from the last time. What would I tell my co-workers? My niece’s birthday party was coming up soon, it’s 90 degrees outside, I can’t wear a turtleneck again. Had my bruises from the last time healed? Even if not all the way, were they soft enough to be covered by make-up?
I was numb to your touch. Your hands around my throat meant nothing to me now; nothing more than some minutes of having to fight for air. Your fingers inside me were purely for your pleasure. Even then, I chose the latter. I chose to embrace you in my arms and entertain your ideas about our future together so that I could have a peaceful night’s sleep. Your lips softly kissed the base of my navel and travelled upwards. Your body lying heavily on top of mine only meant that I could breathe normally for a brief moment in time, not having to worry what would happen next. Your lips made it upwards all the way to the side of my neck, and as you entered inside a place that no longer brought me any pleasure, I heard you whisper, “I’m sorry, I love you.”
After all of the muffled roaring, it was quiet for a while. If I could tell time I would have counted the minutes it felt peaceful in my bubble. Why couldn’t it always feel like this? It didn’t make everything okay, but I’ll take it. I’ll take that tiny slice of time when things felt not great, but okay.
Some hours must have passed, or maybe it was days, or even weeks. My eyes were able to open up more, and the sounds outside were getting louder. And then it happened, one big thud that sent me flying forward. The sounds of you screaming, the screeches of your tears—it was in those moments when I felt your pain the most. And then there was another big thud, and another, and then another; the pushing and the slamming went on and on until I was tumbling uncontrollably, and all sense of feeling was utterly lost.
Almost five years after I first felt your grip around my wrists, almost five years after you arrested my innocence, I thought that I had mastered all that I had to master in this lifetime. I learned how to cover up the shades of blue and purple that colored my body, I learned how to mask my feelings in order to tip-toe around yours, I learned how to pretend—and most importantly, I learned what it meant to keep pushing forward.
Something touched me. Something grabbed at me. Whatever it was, it was ice cold. The all too familiar feeling of the thumping above me preceded this moment for what seemed like an eternity. I was scared. We were both scared. And then I heard what must have been the loudest sound I had ever heard. It wasn’t human, and it was really, really powerful. And just like that, it was all over. I was no longer a part of you.
I was wrong. All this time I thought I had learned what to keep hidden away in order to keep moving forward, while in reality I actually hadn’t mastered anything at all. And now, almost ten years later, I’m still haunted by the piece of me that I had to let go.
It’s okay mom, I understand. I understand why you couldn’t bring me into this world. I know it was hard, but you made the right choice—for you, and for me. I hope you now only feel the thumping of your heart in excitement and happiness.
Today, I wake up and open my eyes a bit wider than yesterday—I give myself the freedom to recall each memory as it appears, I allow myself to feel vulnerable when I need to, and feel strong when I realize the torment that I was somehow able to make it out of. I’m giving a voice to what it was like to be under the control of another human being for six long years; what it was like to never know when I may not have been able to fight enough for air; and what it really took for me to make the choices I made. Now, in my thirties, I’m slowly learning that this, the process of awareness and acknowledgement, is what it really means to keep pushing forward. And that it’s okay to trust again, and it’s more than okay to allow myself to feel happiness again.