My abusive ex came back, and I couldn’t be more proud.
It’s a line to cringe for.
“Not another abused girlfriend, putting the rose tinted glasses back on for the false charm of her abuser.”
I’m not running back to the man who ripped innocence from my loins, carved hatred into my skin, painted the night sky on my neck and left me in a puddle of blood, torn only from my body with the lure of another whiskey. No, I’m not returning to the promise of terror.
That girl he left on the ground, that girl he found twice more in the months following, raising glass and blade in a whiskey filled vie for my life.
That girl shook at the thought of his face. She locked herself away in the city that raised her out of shame and fear.
That girl was a walking sob story, the word “victim” painted in neon marker on her fear frozen face.
But not anymore.
Five years later and his name bubbles from our lips again. The name, tainted with disdain, spit out with the score from a horror movie playing in the background. Previously existing only as folk legend to people who’ve grown to protect me, who’ve never even met him, only heard the story.
Some would drop to the floor in an exhaustion driven from years of hoping, believing, that the chapter had ended. The villain had been melted with water, hung by a vine, exiled into oblivion. They would be overcome with a paralyzing sensation of ice at the vague threat of another encounter. And they might be safer that way.
But not me.
Five years later, and my knees don’t shake when I imagine his face anymore. Touches on my neck and the clang of glass bottles doesn’t grip my heart with the soul-sickening threat of stinging pain. Not because I don’t remember, or because I don’t care… but because today, I am unbreakable.
I am a woman, strong and steady. There is a sense of peace that’s fallen over me. I have reclaimed the voice he ripped from my ribs, the voice he stifled underneath lies and deceit. My heart is no longer his. It never truly belonged to him, but in the months and years after the attacks finally ended, his ghost lingered like an impenetrable coating on my heart. It blocked out the kind men, the ones with good intentions. Turning their soft words and gentle eyes into electric shocks that flashed like a faulty warning sign, drawing the gates of my heart up when they could have been torn down. He twisted my brain into only letting in the men who would follow his legacy, bloody knuckles creating new tattoos on my skin so that I would never forget that I am still everything he said I was, despite my attempts to be free.
And yet… I’ve somehow changed. All which had previously torn me down to a puddle at my knees… had slowly, quietly, unnoticeably begun rebuilding what he had destroyed. Not only rebuilding, but remodeling and revolutionizing.
His name and his words may have reemerged, but his power will not. Fear and power is his heroin, but without a provider, the junkie cannot be fueled.
His name is just a name, and he is just a boy. I am a woman. I have grown more in this time than he will in his lifetime. There is a reignition of light behind my eyes, a peace only found at 2am during the first snowfall, and a newfound belief in the beauty of humanity.
I am unashamedly, unapologetically proud of the woman I have become. A woman with scars that show her story, a story that yes, sometimes make it difficult to love… but simultaneously makes it so easy to love. For not only do I see the light upon the horizon… but I see the darkness that came before it. I am not shaken by the stories of others; I see strength and beauty in the difficult paths, the thorn filled journeys of people who only made it through with band-aids and hope. I know who they are; I was them. I know who they can become; I am them.
I am here.
I am alive.
And I am unafraid.