Two years ago this month, I left my hus­band, short­ly before telling him he had 2 weeks to get out of the house for good.

It’s been a very long two years, full of pain and strug­gle and free­dom and con­fu­sion and find­ing myself.

And find­ing words.

Before we begin, a few words about the fea­tured image here. It was tak­en Feb­ru­ary 7, 2015. I was fight­ing an anx­i­ety attack. Either the attack had caused the argu­ment or was exac­er­bat­ing the argu­ment. But I clear­ly remem­ber man­ag­ing to demand that he give me space away from him for a lit­tle bit so I could calm down. He agreed, but only after threat­en­ing me. I began to real­ly start to see what was hap­pen­ing. The rest of the day was spent in a haze.

he nev­er hit me,
you know. in fact,
he was always so
see­ing betray­al
and manip­u­la­tion
in every­one i loved.
“i don’t want you to get hurt!”
he’d swear, as
he plant­ed seeds of doubt
about the love of my friends
the sup­port of my fam­i­ly
my abil­i­ty to choose
my own loved ones.

i guess our mar­riage
was kind of like
fight club.
the first rule was
i could nev­er talk about it
well, unless i was prais­ing him
because oth­er­wise i would be
air­ing “dirty laun­dry”
and that wasn’t fair,
now, was it?

you see, he want­ed what
was best for me,
ten­der­ly allow­ing me
to spend some of the mon­ey
i had earned
on make­up
or clothes
…or med­i­cine.
he kept track
of every dol­lar i
spent on me
as a yard­stick of
what he could spend
on him­self:
video games
a moun­tain bike
a kayak
a gun…
you know.
things he need­ed.

he nev­er hit me,
you know. in fact,
he was so mature
and under­stand­ing.
dur­ing fights,
i was the cow­ard
who tried to escape
while he mere­ly
blocked my exit
with his body.
“talk this out
like an adult,”
he would tell me
with com­mand­ing voice
and tow­er­ing frame.

he was always
so under­stand­ing
of my depres­sion
chron­ic migraines
sui­ci­dal fan­tasies.
in fact,
he’d remind me
how much he under­stood
every time i asked him to do
almost any­thing
around the house
or for our pets
or for me.

he had anx­i­ety, too, you know
he had depres­sion, too, you know
he was sui­ci­dal, too, you know
how could i expect
so much from him?

he nev­er hit me,
you know. in fact,
i was the one who
hit him,
body-slam­ming my way
past him on the stairs.
what choice did he have
but to fol­low me?

nev­er once did he hit me.
he only caught up to me
and hit the wall
with my head.

…or did he? maybe
i just fell,
body spin­ning 90 degrees
the moment he touched me,
los­ing my bal­ance,
dent­ing the wall with
my elbow as i
sank to the floor.

i saw stars…

and, thought­less me,
i dialed 911.
he threw my phone
across the room
remind­ing me that
domes­tic vio­lence records
would hin­der his

he was right.
how could i threat­en
our liveli­hood
by telling any­one
what just hap­pened?
by threat­en­ing to break
the first rule
of our mar­riage?

he was always so
pro­tec­tive. like
the day he told me
no mat­ter what i thought
he was buy­ing a gun.
i was afraid
to have a gun so near
when i want­ed to die
…or my head went through walls
but he was afraid
to be weapon­less
in the face of intrud­ers.

wasn’t that so brave?
he want­ed to pro­tect me
with some­thing
that could kill me
that i nev­er want­ed
and lived in fear of find­ing.

why is it that,
for peo­ple to care,
i have to tell them
about the gun
about my head
still throb­bing these years lat­er
from where it hit the wall
by acci­dent or by force?

why is it that
the first ques­tion they ask
is if he ever hit me?
how can i explain that
no, he nev­er hit me.
he just hit a wall with my head.
but the real prob­lem is found
in the times he told me
he nev­er hurt me
at all.

because he was so
and loom­ing
and to this day
i’m afraid to ask
to watch a movie
or play a game
or see my friends
or talk to fam­i­ly
or believe in kind­ness
—with­out an angle
—with­out agen­da
—with­out strings attached
—with­out pay­ment expect­ed.

i some­times wish
he had hit me
because maybe then
peo­ple might take my trau­ma
a lit­tle more

Posted in Fat Girl,