As I stare at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I ask myself ‘How the hell did you get to this place girl?’
The memory of last night floods back in.
Him screaming at me, ‘Stop crying, shut the fuck up.’
I can see myself on the floor gasping for breath fighting the panic attack he had triggered by his manic abuse yet again.
I can’t remember how long I laid there, he left me at some point and took himself off to bed. I heard him snoring. He had gone to sleep knowing I was in a full-blown panic attack, he didn’t care, but at least with him asleep I would have a little peace as I pulled myself together.
I remember crawling into bed at some point in the early hours and laying so still in case I woke him up. I fell asleep at some point but awoke to his arms wrapped around me squeezing me hard to wake me up, then he said, ‘You bring this on yourself, you make me like this, if you stop asking questions of me then everything will be fine.’
My crime was to ask him who some woman was who seemed to know him a little to well at a party we had attended.
He told me he hardly knew her, yet he knew what she drank and when he gave her the drink, she just took it, no word of thanks, that’s something that happens to people who know each other well, who are intimate, who are a couple!
I was left to wonder how many of those ‘working late’, or out for a ‘business dinner’ were genuine, or were they excuses for him being with her.
He couldn’t see or accept how humiliating it was for me as I could see the looks on people’s faces especially the women, the pity, the uncomfortable silences.
I’d walked out of the party without another word. Left him there. I didn’t care that there would be consequences I needed to get away from him and her.
I knew she wasn’t the first. We’d been here way too many times before.
I’d left before, called friends in the middle of the night to come and get me, they always did, they never let me down.
When I’d left, he always started his smear campaign to cover up his actions. I always ended up looking completely crazy, insane.
Then he would work his way back into my life, telling me he would change, telling me he was a whole new man, and like an idiot, I believed him.
My friends would beg me not to go back to him, yet I did.
Then the day came when I stopped confiding in them, I was so ashamed as I wasn’t the strong independent woman so many thought I was.
I’d become a victim and didn’t know that I was.
I believed everything wrong was my fault because he told me it was.
I withdrew into myself. I believed every excuse, story he told me, it became easier to live like that.
It seemed like overnight my whole support system disappeared.
So here I am staring at myself in the mirror and it’s like looking at a stranger.
He has just left for work saying he will be working late, I just nod.
Once his car pulls out the driveway, I know I have plenty of time to do what needs to be done.
I walk back into the bedroom and look at the bed, for most, it’s a place of love, comfort, the cosy sleepy zone that you wake happy and contented from.
To me, it is the place my demon rules.
I pick up the phone and call a friend I haven’t spoken to in a long time, she lives abroad.
I tell her what has been going on and before I can ask, she says ‘Get the next flight out, I’ll pick you up.’
I didn’t need telling twice.
I booked my flight, then the chasing the clock begins.
I pack my things, slowly, with defiance, I take what I want, I take what is mine.
I leave my rings on the bedside table, I don’t need them.
I leave, locking the door behind me.
I make my way to the airport, check in, I am shaking so much I’m asked if I am alright, I tell them I am.
I board the flight, and its almost like I am holding my breath as I exhale so loudly once we are in the air.
Then my mind talking begins, have you done the right thing? Yes, you have!
My mind begins to grieve, the loss of what might have been, common sense telling me its not real if he is spending time with other women, and then abusing you when you ask him why he is an abuser, you have been abused, stop making excuses.
It’s this ongoing battle in my mind the whole flight.
I land, my friend meets me with the biggest bear hug.
The drive to her home in the mountains is done in silence, she knows it’s what I need.
Then suddenly the enormity of what I’ve done hits me, all the pain he caused me cascades down over me and I start to cry, gut-wrenching crying that leaves you exhausted.
I’m finally free of him, I’m free of the demon in my bed, now the long journey of healing is to come.
I can do it. I know I can.
I’m lucky I got away when I did, not everyone can, but know it took me leaving him six times before I made it the last time.
I know there are many women out there looking in the mirror asking themselves the same thing I did, just know you can be strong enough to survive this, just take the first step no matter how hard it is.