I’ve always considered my self a strong person. Things came easy to me and I’ve never really had to fight for anything. Not for good grades, not for friends, not for cute boys to like me, not to get something I wanted. Everything I ever needed, I was rewarded with one way or the other, and I realized that I became so wrapped up in the word “yes”, I didn’t know what to do when I heard no. I didn’t know how to react when things got hard, I didn’t know what it meant.
It’s one thing for other people to tell you about what they went through and to advise you not to do the same or how to avoid it. But, it is an entirely different thing when you face it head on.
Pain is tricky. Fate is even trickier. And life is a mix of both and we have to decide what category to put the bad parts in. Was it meant to happen? Is this normal? Does everyone go through this? Do I deserve this? Did I make the right choice? Well, I was confronted with both; in every aspect of it… and I failed myself.
Abuse starts off subtle and it has many faces, forms, phrases and phases. If you’ve encountered it before, you know what I’m saying. Now, I won’t go through everything I endured, I’m not here for pity. I made the choice to go through hell and put on a smile everyday and fake it to the world until I just couldn’t anymore. I faked my smile so much and by the end of it I began to hate it. I hated laughter. I hated people that smiled at me. I hated him when he smiled and showed a glimpse of happiness. I hated when we laughed together. I hated when we were happy and I hated when we were at odds. I was disgusted with him and disgusted with myself for putting on that fake ass facade like I was okay.
There are certain firsts you remember in a relationship and I had many. The first kiss, the first time you said I love you, the first time you made love. I remember the day I was first called out of my name, I remember where I was standing, I remember how the sky looked; it was raining and I stood outside so no one would hear me cry and beg him not to talk to me that way. I remember the first time he hit me. How cold it was when I ran outside for fresh air; snow sprinkled on the ground. I remember the first time that light I shined on him dimmed and the pedal stool I put him on fell shorter and shorter.
As time passed, I no longer looked at him as my everything. He was a monster and I would lay awake at night, looking at him while he slept and wish we could rewind to the day before he had ever put his hands on me. I hated him for not being who I imagined him to be, who he promised he could be. But that wasn’t possible so tears tried to run away from him since I wouldn’t. It confused me because I still had this aching urge to fix him and make it work. But each time I clocked in for overtime, I thought of my mother and my niece. How would my niece look at me. How could I give her advice if she sees her aunt doing the opposite. How would I feel if someone ever dared to raise a hand to her or my future daughter and call her anything but her name. I would cry to the point of convulsions thinking of my childhood and the future I was laying out for myself. I was depressed and stifled in my goals, health, and life. My head was filled with constant noise and I could never really focus on anything but how to perfect the costume I put on everyday.
Every time the smoke had cleared and we were ‘happy’, I had a replay of the last time I was a bitch, the last time I was a hoe, the last time I was a thief, the last time I waited for a part of my body to stop aching, the last time I winced when I pulled my hair into a pony tail or tried to chew. My heart would race when I thought something would turn into an argument or a one way fight. I had panic attacks often and apologized for everything a million times while I twisted to fit the mood he was in. And still, I fought for us.
I thought I was being strong for the both of us. I thought the crack in his voice when he apologized meant growth and an end to the monster I thought I created. I thought I was being strong each time I tried to peace myself together and nurse his illness. I thought my tears would be enough for him to see the wrong he was doing. But it didn’t and nothing I did was enough.
I fought until I pushed myself to look at my broken body and exhausted exterior. And wouldn’t you know, the strongest thing I did throughout this entire misadventure was let him walk out my door. I had to claim myself again. ‘Our home’ was MY home. ‘Our happiness’ was MY happiness. The object he was so comfortable hitting was MY body. MY name was Malissa, nothing else. The insults and the anger was his to keep and to deal with internally, and I stopped taking ownership of it. The love I gave was mine to give. I took everything that belonged to me back and let him take his baggage out the door.
I stopped trying to prove to myself and everyone else that I could fix it and get what I wanted. That was the strongest I could have ever been and the rightest my decisions have ever turned and I took something from it. I learned about myself, and love. Love shouldn’t hurt. Love shouldn’t make you feel less than. Love shouldn’t dim your light.
So, I am proud to say that I left that costume at the door that day as well. My smile is not a mask I put on anymore. My laughter is as contagious as my happiness and I have moved from behind the dark cloud of pain. So, if you take away nothing from this very minute excerpt of my life, I want you to know, how not to become me. Don’t take as long as I did. Don’t ignore the signs. And please, don’t stay silent. When the noise quiets down to a whisper at night, your peace or lack there of is the only that will ring in your ear louder than anything or anyone else. God and my family got me through it. I was able to completely separate myself from it, no financial commitments together, no children together, nothing binding to me to him. And I thank God for that everyday.
I am one of the lucky ones I guess. I survived it with no permanent scares on my soul or my body. I am a survivor of domestic violence. It took me a while to even let those words come out of my mouth due to shame and denial. But, I am not ashamed of someone else’s illness. His anger was not my fault. And I want you to know, if you are going through something similar, it is not your fault and will never be and to seek help and take yourself out of that situation. Nothing is worth more than your life. Some girls aren’t as lucky as you and me and don’t get the chance to leave.
As Always, Peace & Love ♥
National Domestic Violence Hotline
If you or someone you know is going through violence of any kind, please don’t hesitate to call.