The carpet was ruined before she moved in.
It was pocked by burns from cigarette butts and browned by coffee stains. It reeked of urine from an old cat that died in the closet, leaving its stench behind as a ghost. The dull blue fabric was bright once, but whatever vibrancy it’d had was long gone.
She parted the curtains to sunshine and dust motes.
“It’s shit,” she told the window.
She burned the bottom of the pan making a packet of 25 cent ramen. She ate it that way, tasting it all acrid against her tongue. Her boxes were half opened and half closed, spread around her in a near perfect circle like the makings of some second-rate wizard trying to summon demons.
“Here I am from the depths of hell,” she murmured.
If she said it too loud he’d hear her. It was silly, nonsensical, and she laughed at it even as she took it in.
She threw out the pan. Too used and abused to be worth much anymore.
Unpacking was gruesome. Her fingers convulsed around things. Gripped them tight enough that she hoped, just maybe, they’d disappear. A sleight of hand to wash away the clothes he’d picked out for her, the jewelry he’d bought for her, the things he’d shower down in a sacrifice against the bruises. Blood washed over her altar to account for his sins.
Most of it she’d sell. The rest she needed just to get by for a while. Just to get by.
Night came creeping through the window. Winter brought it fast on the heels of five o’clock, bleak and vindictive. She closed the curtains again. She shuttered the blinds and locked the door. Turned the deadbolt. Pressed her forehead against the wood and breathed.
There was a red streak between her feet. It grinned up at her with bloody ferocity, and she found herself grinning back.
“You’re free,” she whispered.
And suddenly she didn’t want her blouse on. She didn’t want the Victoria’s Secret bra holding up her breasts. The skinny jeans he’d brought her because they made her ass look so good. They were his hands all over her and she didn’t want them anymore. She could say no. She had.
The buttons flew across the room. Her shoes cracked against the wall. She was laughing, loud and hysterical and manic, and she didn’t care. She was pale and naked in the darkness. It washed over the marks he’d left on her, concealing them.
The burns that pocked her skin.
The yellow of her stains.
The dullness of her skin.
The carpet was ruined before she got there, but she’d call in the morning to have it replaced.
Flashes of anger, degrading my essence
wrapping me up in strands of his rage
making me feel inadequate and helpless
unable to cope and falling downward
into an abyss that traps and destroys me
shredding my self into faceless angst
banging and drumming on my psyche
reverberating, rapping, without cease
no time for me to recoup and heal
behind my cowering body, I glimpse
it’s because he can’t love himself
he beats my spirit into insignificance
the smaller I am, the bigger he is.
chloroform lingers inside her mind,
triggered by the scent of the sterilized hospital.
The nurses don't know what to do nor the doctors,
what is causing her PTSD,
this post traumatic trauma.
They know she was kidnapped,
beaten, bloodied, bruised.
Then they realize she can't help it.
The hospital smells of sterilizer,
which reminds her mind of the sickening, sleepy,
drug that separated her from her family,
the people that were in the building next door,
I suppose that someday I'll forget the ick that covers my skin. The layer of film that seems to rest on all I see and touch. But I will never forget the fear.
We were pressed together in the back of his brother's cramped car- his lips desperately pressing against mine, sloppy and unpleasant. I didn't like kissing him, it made me feel nauseous and dirty. Like I was rolling in mud on a too-hot day. I didn't kiss him back, but I didn't pull away, either. I just let him press himself into me, searching for something he never found.
When kissing wasn't enough his hands slid up my shirt, cold on my warm skin, raising goosebumps that made me shudder. But still I did nothing. His hands ventured further, and clothes began to disappear. Finally, I came to my senses, no longer paralyzed by the fear of being alone. I begged him to stop, I pushed his hands away, turned my face away from his.
Angry, one hand gripped my chin, jerked it back into position, so I could see the fury etched onto his face. "Stop it," he said, "don't be a fucking tease." I whimpered, but held still as his lips pressed into my collarbone.
As his hands once again began to roam, I pushed away again, and again he looked at me with that loathing I so often seemed to see anymore. "You asked for it, Sam," he growled. "I'm just giving you what you want."
I choked on my pleas. What I asked for? Had I been asking for this? I didn't think I had, but maybe... Maybe he was right.
He kissed me again, and slowly I relented, kissing him back. Then, with a resolve I didn't think I had, I kneed him, then rolled his groaning body off of me. As I scrambled to grab my clothes and put them back on, he grabbed me again, pinning me to the seat, his breath hot in my ear. "Quit being a bitch."
I elbowed his nose, struck out blindly, squirmed until he was off of me, moaning into the crook of his arm. I yanked open the car door and ran, not stopping until I was far enough away that I couldn't hear him yelling anymore. Cold, I pulled my clothes back on, wandered until I found a familiar street, and familiar house, and knocked on the door.
A week later, I found myself at the park again, tucked into his side because he didn't mean it, he was just drunk (even though he hadn't touched his glass all night), it'll never happen again. I watched him flirt with other girls, listened to him tell me to stop being a jealous bitch, he wasn't mine, he wasn't property. I watched them walk into the shadows, watched them come back, looking like a secret. Watched his smug smile as he kissed her in front of me. Felt his slap after I talked to one of his friends, heard his don't talk to them, you're mine, you're mine, you're mine, you'll never find anyone better, no one else will ever love you.
But it did happen again, as some part of me knew it would. And I squirmed and fought and tried, tried, tried. Over and over. Until the sound of his voice made me vomit. Until his name made me shiver.
Until he asked a friend to help hold me down.
I sobbed and begged them to stop, and his friend got scared, then confused, then angry. "She doesn't want this, man, stop!" He yelled. He kicked him, broke his nose. Left him lying in the grass, reeking of alcohol and blood. "Go home," he told me. "And don't come back around here. You deserve a lot better than that asshat." I don't even remember his name, but he saved me.
The little niggle in the back of my mind that often resurfaces in difficult times is not that of the events in my life that have caused me trauma.
It isn't even the trauma itself. The creature that burns through my thoughts when I can no longer release enough tears to drown it is after the fact.
Say a loved one dies. There is a funeral. People generally respond with kindness, affection and caring. As you process the trauma I'm sure your thoughts fall to coping and looks for how people have responded to you to figure out how you will respond to you.
Now let's say you were late for work and got scolded. No one will show you kindness here. Let's say you were late three times. People are resentful and might challenge you on it. Now, imagine that this upsets you and you forget you've parked in the wrong spot and get a ticket. Horrible day but it's doable for some. You go home you get a drink you feel better. This works. Once. Sometimes twice. Never sustainably.
What if you were abused?
What if, you are abused your entire childhood and no one noticed? What if you ran for help and they abused you worse? Where would your self-esteem go to for coping strategies? Stick to what you know? Now imagine having a child with someone you love and it being the best thing that ever happened to you, being free of those situations. Imagine changing your life for the better, choosing a career! It won't be easy, you will have to work 70+ hours a week for 3 weeks walking 3 miles each way for it mind. Imagine the peace of the last day at your old job and the begining of a new. Then imagine your tiredness as you come across a horrific accident on the way home from work where a lady has crushed her legs in the road. Then imagine getting back late and putting a bottle of whiskey on the side and saying tonight we earned this. Imagine a blissful night with your partner. The passion, the relief, the 5am phone call where your mother shrieks that your brother is dead. He killed himself.
Imagine the pressure on your family tearing it in two. Imagine buying a motorbike with the money he leaves you then imagine a chance attack by a group of teenagers that destroys it.
Imagine the sadness and old dark thoughts. Imagine choosing therapy and trying to break old patterns.
Then being honest with your now wife, brother didn't make it to the wedding, and telling her, finally telling someone that you self harm.
Imagine she leaves you.
Then imagine...imagine that no one else was there. Not even your mom.
Pain seared through my eye.
Phone puzzled me.
Children's faces halved.
"Get your father."
ER door opened.
Triage nurse examined me.
Holding wall I pronounced, "I've three children. Their names escape me. Can't dial phone or understand numbers. Vertigo makes me nauseated. Give me a brain saving drug."
Time heals all wounds? I hope so
Blood dripping down his face
Teary eyed scream for help
Help I knew not how to give
But wanted to
But I didn't, and that's the only thing that counts
At least in my head
So I'll keep playing the image over and over
Red stains marring his shirt
The shock reverberating from his eyes
Throughout his body
Overpowering the pain surging through his face
Tears fighting the urge to roll down
And unite with flowing fountains
Of his crimson vitality
I'll keep playing that image
Over and over
Until I see him again
Sans blood and gore
Time might help me overwrite
His pain resonating in my thoughts
I can think of a million things I should've done
I can think of a million things I should've said
Now , he resides in my tormented brain,
A maze of emotions I know not what to call
So I keep winding through, searching for respite
But I know deep down,
Normalcy is the only way out
Of this insanity