“To my daughter I will say, when the men come, set yourself on fire.”
The first time he hits you you’ll break up with him and change your phone number. He’ll cruise the city to find you and make himself comfortable, wherever you’re at. He’ll say hi to all your friends, he’s so charismatic, and he’ll pull you in by the waist as he smothers you in unwelcomed kisses. He’ll play it cool in front of his friends as he pleads in your ear, “it was a mistake”, he drank too much liquor and was out of control. He just loves you so much. He’ll say that he’s sorry and it’ll never happen again. He’s so nice, so charming, he makes you laugh, you feel safe again. It was just one time. We all make mistakes. So, five weeks later, you get back with him.
The second time he hits you, you’ll be in public. He’ll say that you’re too drunk and embarrassing him. He wants you next to him at all times. When you try to wander around the club he’ll ask who you’re sneaking off to see. He’ll take your phone, scroll through your call log and text messages, and when he can’t find anything – he’ll say that you’re sneaky. He beats you to the car, as you’re approaching you’ll hear him spreading rumors about you to your mutual friends. He’ll say he saw you dancing with a guy, that you were entertaining your ex, that you’re a slut. You call him out in front of everyone and say he’s lying and it’s not true. His ego gets bruised, and he puffs his chest out. He’ll start yelling at you, and you’ll start yelling profanities back. You both cause a scene in a filled parking lot. His friend will come up to you and tell you to get in the car so you both drive away. He’ll say that’s the only way to calm down the situation. You’ll reluctantly get in the car. He speeds off – you don’t know what you’re scared of more: him, getting in a car accident, or the proximity of the gun.
He’ll pull up to the after hours spot and you’ll try to fix your running mascara that’s stained your face. You’ll get out the car without his permission and walk away. He’ll chase after you and pull you into the car as you fight saying you don’t want to go with him. You’re crying – everyone sees- and walks away. A friend approaches, gets cussed out – and he slams your car door shut. You get slapped on the way home for making him look stupid. You learn to be quiet.
The next day you’ll get calls from friends asking about the fiasco the night before. You’ll say you don’t really remember it was just drunk shit.
3 & 4
The third and fourth time he hits you, you’ll collapse into yourself. He’ll say that you’re crazy, that you don’t value or appreciate him. That he deserves to be with someone better. You begin to blame yourself and wonder what you did to deserve such treatment. You’ll cry until you run out of tears and sound. He’ll take your car keys, your phone, your money and disappear. You’re stuck in hell and don’t want to face it again when he comes back. You get your Mac and iMessage your friends – they come pick you up. The truth comes out.
The fifth time he hits you, you’ll be numb. You won’t feel anything anymore. You’ll have an out of body experience with yourself and wonder how you got here. You’ll ask yourself if this is really a part of your story. You’ll wait for the storm to pass and then code switch into the perfect girl. You’ll try to be nicer, prettier, more fun – because you think that’ll make him kinder to you. You’ll apologize for acting in a matter that made him hit you. You do love him after all – and you know it’s just a phase, you’ll get through it.
The sixth time he hits you…you’ll fight back. You won’t be scared, or numb anymore, you’ll just be angry. You’ll catch him off guard and get good hits in that leave marks. You’ll try to leave but he drags you back. He won’t let you get the upper hand. He’ll choke you and say you’re making him act outside his character. He’ll say he shouldn’t be with you and slams your phone on the ground. He storms out and leaves you to put together the pieces. You’ll ask yourself when did love turn into a boxing ring.
After the sixth time he hits you…you’ll have stopped keeping track. You’ll have lost yourself between your friends saying you’re enabling it by sticking around, and his friends asking what you’re doing to deserve it. His friends will paint you as the monster and him as the saint. Your mutual friends will distance themselves from you and say he’s their cousin, or their brother. He’ll tell everyone that you’re disloyal, impulsive and abusive. When he isn’t controlling you, he’ll be busy controlling your image. You’ll stay around to prove a point, that you are worthy of love. That you can keep a man. You’ll be embarrassed what the outside world thinks of you, of what you think of yourself, so you’ll retreat into an abyss of loneliness. He’ll tell you how great you are for not leaving the house, for keeping to yourself and not socializing. He says that’s what quality women do. His comment which would’ve once made you wince will have made you smile. Who are you? How did you get here? How do you get out?
There’s a fable about a boiling frog that you’ll resonate with. It describes a frog being boiled alive. When the frog is placed suddenly into boiling water, it jumps out immediately. However, if the frog is placed in water that is brought to a boil slowly, it won’t pick up on the danger and will be cooked to death. This fable is a metaphor for your inability to sense the gradual peril that placed you in your situation.
I wonder how many of us have become desensitized to rain.
Questions I ask myself:
At what age were you taught to fear men?
At what age did that fear start to kick in?
How many men have visited your body?
How many were invited?
How many stayed past their welcome?
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