He didn’t mean to, he never did. I stared deeply into the mirror, wincing at the figure that gawped back at me from the dirty glass. My fragile frame was ever so slightly hunched over. My eyes wide, alert yet holding very little life behind them. Dark red satisfaction spilled from my nose and the paint of my own mistakes formed a halo of blacks and blues around my left eye. I no longer felt disappointment in him, this feeling had long moved on from him and onto myself. Yet again, I’d let myself down. Shame loomed over me in the same way he did, dark and unnerving. It felt as though I was restricted by my own existence, my mind a prison and this a life sentence. I think back to that innocent little girl, remembering the way she’d spoken with such excitement about her “perfect future”. Now look at her, huddled and hiding in her own bathroom like a wounded fucking animal. I’d let her down and was disgusted with how pathetic I’d let myself become.
That night in bed we didn’t make love, we fucked. He did not love me but my god did he fuck me. His angers and tensions fuelled every powerful thrust and stroke. His hands held me firmly against his muscular frame and his dark eyes pierced into mine as I so desperately tried to read them, to feel something. I felt nothing. I liked when we were like this, indulged in that moment of being desired. My momentary comfort embodied within the experience of his touch without violence. I wondered though, if this was my sole purpose, was I just a body? A basic possession of the man who said he loved me, controlled and guided by my own fears. Flesh and bones constructed my figure, yet my mind was slowly deconstructing. All it knew being destroyed, only to be rebuilt on the grounds of manipulation and illusion.
I would often find myself wondering what it was like to be truly loved, to feel safe not scared. Told myself that one day I’d experience it outside the barriers of my own imagination. I craved the euphoria that came with genuine happiness, feared I’d forgotten the feeling. I was so tired of the bruises, both internal and external. I’d lost all sense of the woman I’d once been. She had been so brave, so confident and now look at her, a puppet. Lacking all freedom, I was dragged. Force used to determine each and every one of my moves, thoughts and gestures. He held the strings and he held them tight. Some days though, the strings loosened, I felt as though I could walk and it didn’t hurt. He was hot and cold but both burned, always leaving a mark. I could never let myself fall into this false sense of ease. No matter how comfortable walking felt on these days, I was always ready to run. Or more likely, ready to sit. Sit and stay obedient.
I’d given off all the signs, but people are so wrong when they say that they’d notice. They don’t. I’d taken countless days off work, lied through my teeth when asked about unexplainable bruises. Scenarios of various slips and falls spilling to anyone who asked. I had lost almost all contact with my own family, that was the hardest blow. The guilt sat heavy in the pit of my stomach as I’d pick up my mothers calls at Christmas. She’d inevitably ask how was work? How was the house? How are you two? I’d answer the same to it all; fine. On the surface it was fine: I had a job, I had a house and, of course I had him. Well, he had me. I just spared the details that I felt would leave a mother worried. Otherwise, what was I to say? “Oh, works great, I haven’t been in a few months but that’s alright. The house is grand! Lovely place, in fact I seem to love it so much that I never leave, like a prison almost. And us two? We’re perfect, unless he’s angry. Then he hurts me, mum. He really fucking hurts me. I cry every single night and I couldn’t tell you the last time I wasn’t hiding something. I am so scared, I want to come home. But don’t you worry about me”. No, I could not. The truth was unspeakable so it remained unspoken.
He hadn’t always been like this. The man I now find myself with stands almost completely incomparable to the character he had once been. We met by chance yet without hesitation he’d welcomed me in. For several months we’d lived out what had felt like a dream. Our relationship almost enviable, I even once described it as “too good to be true”. I was right. The facade faded and I was forced to wake up. With waking up came intense and unbearable exposure to the eternal nightmare I now found myself trapped within. I’d fallen blindly and stupidly in love with the man I thought I knew. Had to watch as that ideal image I’d created of him was destroyed by its very own creator, like some twisted form of torture. Everything I once knew and believed had come crashing down, threatening to take me with it. Sometimes I thought I saw a glimmer of that man. I wondered where he’d gone. Was it my fault that we’d lost him?
Although I did not know where he’d gone, I did know when he went. He went missing for good one night early last year. Just after a friends party a nasty argument had broken out between us, once again he’d had too much to drink, his intoxicated mind contorting any rationality he had left. I’d fallen into his firing line, exposed and vulnerable. The boom in his voice had echoed off of the walls that trapped me there and the venom in his words scarred my soul. Eventually I shouted back; I couldn’t take it anymore, all I wanted was for it to stop.
I felt his palm meet my cheek, hard. Instant fucking regret. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. It felt as though the entirety of my skull had been shattered: even once the contact had ended, his touch still remained on my skin, red, raw and tender. I looked up at him, hot tears fell from my eyes whilst my words stayed stuck in my mouth. I had nothing to say. I don’t think I could’ve said anything. Pure terror had almost paralysed me, leaving me like a deer in headlights staring up at him. But that wasn’t what made me sick. The look smeared across his face was what had truly made my stomach turn. His eyes were glazed over, glaring at me like a predator would at prey. Insanity hid within his expression. He smirked proudly. His spit hit my face as the words “stupid bitch” escaped his lips, he sounded so cold. The stranger that now stood before me was visibly enjoying himself, blatantly getting off to his new found power trip. I attempted to stand, my knees shaking and threatening to buckle as I did so. Before I was even upright he had kicked me back down again. There I stayed until the thrill ran dry and he let me go. I soon realised that this wasn’t the last time I’d be feeling that impact.
But, I knew it was my fault really. If only I wasn’t so stupid and just kept quiet. Then he wouldn’t have had to hurt me. I deserved it. Every fucking time, I deserved it. At first, I’d wanted so badly confide in my friends when they’d questioned me on the damage I’d been unsuccessful in concealing. I wanted to feel someone’s embrace and to hear that I could leave. My mind had been poisoned, spited into the genuine belief that they didn’t care for me. Why would they? If I ever told them they’d all see me for the pathetic woman I really was. No one would bother believing me and I’d look a complete fool. I’d been deluded to the point of accepting him as the only person who could ever come close to loving me. Was isolated to the point of having no choice but to stay and keep our little secret.
‘But most of all I’m sorry mum-’ I sign my name with a steady hand, I was tired, so very tired. My body was broken and my mind turned off. I was no longer living, I was simply surviving. Breathing shakily, I stepped forwards from where I stood, my steps filled with misplaced confidence. I felt my feet lose the security of the chair beneath me, letting my figure fall. Gravity dragged me towards the ground with great speed, followed by the sharp jolt of the rope catching my neck, this stopping my head before it had the chance to follow. I hung upright in the air, like some sort of tragic display. For a while my weak figure tried to struggle. Instinct had kicked in and it would have appeared as though I wanted to fight back. I did not. I let myself go. I felt as my body finally accepted defeat and began to shut down. It was deeply agonising yet remained less painful than survival. Eventually, a peace washed over me as my body fell limp. It was then, in that strangely perfect moment, that my prayers were answered: I had finally got my escape. I was safe now.