Day 03- Something you have to forgive yourself for…
Wow, so.. This is harder than I thought it would be. I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be using some language, so… if it bothers you, feel free to skip this one. This is going to be hard enough without censoring myself. Also, I’m at work, writing this to stay awake, and I will be interrupted often so the narrative will probably be kind of hard to follow. Once it’s written, I’m not going back to change anything because, like I said: suck. I'll post it later, when it fits into the 30 Days meme.
This is ...bad. I kind of just thought this whole thing would be an exercise in writing, something to get the ol’ blog going. Something to force me to write. But, man. You know how there are certain things you build a wall around in your mind to keep from climbing a clock tower? Yeah. There is some demented shit behind that wall, y’all.
But Jesus hates a coward, right? So fuck it. In for a penny, in for a pound. Get it out and get on with it, isn't that part of the point of this whole rodeo for me? Get it out of my head, and maybe it'll all get better. Alright. So in I go.
Like.. um. Six years ago, almost… Five and a half I guess? I was with a guy. We’d been together for 7 years by then. Long, stupid, terrible story. Everyone’s heard it. Everyone has one of their own, even, so everyone knows the way it goes. Ours was a little more dysfunctional than some, so I think it serves the rambling narrative to mention that we were pretty much shit out of luck from the beginning. I was emotionally all messed up from a kind of (read: completely, totally) fucked up relationship with my mother (at the time - it got better when we learned how to love each other better) and her husband, and having some resulting complexes about being inferior or whatever, and he… Well. He was a sociopath. Still is, where ever he is now, because that’s not something that just goes away. I say that because it’s true, not to paint him as a villain. He had then and still has now no ability to care for other people. The people around him convince themselves otherwise because it goes against human nature to believe that absolute disregard for human life is possible. This is how sociopaths exist without being tarred and feathered - they rely on the goodness of those around them. They prey on it. And he did. And I let him. So, on we go.
He came back from 3 years in the Navy (we were together for like two years before he left, I think, it’s all a blur now) where he was stationed overseas. Three years, I might add, during which I was a teenager, holding up a totally miserable relationship from the middle of fucking nowhere, when he was off in Japan partying like a rock star. I romanticized it and he slept his way across Asia, which he freely admitted and I let happen because I was stupid. It was a pretty great example of the BS in our little situation. If you asked him today, he’d still tell you he was sure I was cheating on him the whole time with my best friend (I was not. I’ve never cheated on anyone. This is all about truth, after all, and I have no reason to lie a decade after the fact of his deployment) but it was just one of the many ways he justified his own promiscuity to himself and everyone that would listen. I knew what he was doing and I stayed with him, so I was as much to blame for the situation as he was. If you allow something to happen, you become responsible for it, right?
Uh, so. I moved back to our home town right before he was discharged (I didn’t think about it then, but it was a time of war. Why were they discharging someone when they needed bodies like mad? This is what we like to call foreshadowing.) and stayed with my mom. He got back and we moved in with his sister for a while. The whole time, I was looking for a job and he was not. I found one, as one is wont to do when they are looking for something. For a year, he refused to even so much as look. We squatted at his sister’s for a while (with her husband and two children,) and then moved in with his parents, which… Yeah. Awkward. He continued refusing to get a job, while I continued working.
During this time, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
It was bad, man. All of it was bad. It was just fucking terrible. Even writing this, I can’t really go back there in my head… I can’t really look at it. I keep seeing flashbacks in my mind and slapping them away like a gypsy baby. I don’t want to go back there. It was… I don’t even have the words. The only things I remember were at night, because night was the worst… The fights were worse, the feelings were worse. The voices from back then, our voices, literally echo when I remember them. There was no light. I see no light in my mind when I look through this wall. It’s cold and dark and I fucking hate it behind this wall I’ve built, back there in those months…
Somewhere in there, between all of the natural stress of the situation –of which there was plenty, let me tell you—and the added psychological bullshit that our relationship just naturally carried with it, I became aware that very bad things were happening. Our relationship was getting worse, more dangerous for both of us. It seemed… I don’t know. I observed it, but didn’t do anything to get out of it. I had nowhere to go.
I just needed so badly for someone to care for me… He didn’t, obviously, ever, but I needed to believe someone did. I needed to be held, even if I had to beg for it, because my world was falling down around me. My mother was dying very quickly, and I felt like if I left my relationship, I would have nothing left after she was gone. I needed to stick it out.
I found out I was pregnant a month after my mom was diagnosed. Which I was oddly surprised by I even thought, hey, maybe this is something good, something to look forward to. Losing my mom, gaining a baby, give and take, balance in the universe… Whatever. I don’t know. I was so deluded.
Relationship got worse. Things became more volatile. My mother died. My sisters and I very literally watched her die four months after she had been diagnosed, and I… I can’t remember that, either. Not now. Jesus, it’s like bumping around in a dark house of mirrors in my head right now, you know? Keep running smack into things I can’t get through, bouncing off and hitting something else, almost seeing my own haunted face staring wide-eyed and horrified back at me from the murk.
So. Maybe two weeks after my mom died, but I think closer to a week and a half, I was crying… I was talking to the boyfriend, trying to get him to listen to me, and he wouldn’t stop playing his video game. Wouldn’t even look at me, or pause it, or pretend to give a shit, as I’m trying to tell him I need some kind of help because I can’t deal with what’s going on. I was literally begging him to PRETEND to care, sobbing, just… It was humiliating. I’m ashamed, when I think back, it makes me… God, it was just…
Um. So he got mad, he got up to leave the house (still his mother’s house. His parents were pretending to be asleep downstairs as we fought) because he didn’t want to listen to me. He told me my mom was dead, I needed to just stop thinking about it because people die and the world doesn’t end, or something very close to that. Said I was weak for crying and being so broken over it. Called me names. I didn’t let him leave, I stood in his way, begged him to just hold me, so he shoved me. I should have known better than to stand there, but I didn’t. I wasn’t thinking clearly… I don’t know that I’d ever thought clearly the entire time we were together…
So he shoved me into the corner of the wall, which hit me right along the spine. I have scoliosis, so there was a pretty fair amount of pain. It knocked the wind out of me, knocked me to the ground. He walked past me, went outside to smoke.
I was four months pregnant. The cramping started then, low… dark. I was so stupid. I think there was even part of me that thought he would care now, he had to care now, because look what he’d done. I was so stupid.
When he came back inside, I was sobbing on the floor, unable to get up. He didn’t even look at me, walked past to go sit on the couch and continue playing his game. I asked him if this was how it was going to be now, if he was just going to drop the act and be this way all the time now. He said in the coldest, most matter of fact voice, that yes, it was. If I stood in his way and refused to give him what he wanted, he would force me to move and he would take it. That wasn’t anything new, but hearing it… Something inside me broke. I cried so hard, I couldn’t breathe. The cramping got worse. After a long time there, on the floor, not really able to get up first because of the pain in my back, then because of the pain in my belly, I told him my stomach hurt.
He said he didn’t care. I said, no, you don’t understand. MY STOMACH HURTS. I think something’s wrong with the baby. He said to go to bed, I said I couldn’t. He became more alarmed then, I think realizing that after what he’d just done I wasn’t stupid enough to ask him for help if I didn’t need it. He got up, tried to help me up, and when I couldn’t stand he carried me to the bedroom.
Not to the car. Not to the hospital. To the bedroom.
The cramps were terrible. I sat there on our bed, terrified and weeping and broken, and he sat behind me trying to get me to calm down, to breathe… Do it for the baby, Amanda, think of the baby. You need to calm down for the baby. I couldn’t. It took so long to stop sobbing… Everything was broken. I was terrified. Absolutely, soul-searingly terrified.
I didn’t ask to go to the hospital. I was so ashamed. I was so alone. My mother was dead, just barely in the ground, and I had no one. His parents, who I’d always thought of as family, had been downstairs and heard everything. They didn’t come up to help me. I was alone, with him. He was all I had, I thought. I didn’t know. I was so stupid. I just wanted it all to stop, to get better. I thought if I could calm down, everything would be okay. I could still fix it. I could still fix everything if I could just calm down.
I was only 20, weeks away from being 21. I didn’t know any better. I was so fucked in the head, and I didn’t know any better. I thought if I calmed down, it would be okay, that the baby would be okay. I don’t know how I convinced myself of that – I’m an educated person, a smart girl, how did I think it would be okay? I just wanted so badly for something, anything, to be okay. I was sick, then- my mind wasn’t right. I was sick with grief and I didn’t know...
We went to my regular appointment a week later. There was no heartbeat… The baby had stopped growing that night, the measurements said. She’d died that night. I had to have a D&C (which, as it turns out, is the wrong procedure when you’re 15.5 weeks along. Who knew? Not me. I was just a kid…) and he went to the hospital with me for it. The procedure didn’t take long, but I was in recovery for 7 or 8 hours… They couldn’t get my BP up, I was bleeding too much. The entire time – every single minute – that we were in the tiny, cold recovery room, he was angry. He wanted to go home, he didn’t know why I couldn’t just suck it up and go home. (I tried to walk twice. Both times, I blacked out completely before I could take a step. I’ve never fainted apart from that in my LIFE.) I told him to leave, but he stayed. I continued to shiver and bleed and cry. He continued to stay, watch the tiny TV, sulk.
The better to badger you with, my dear.
I didn’t leave him then, even though I knew I should. I was so alone… I just… I was stupid, is what it comes down to. We stayed together for a long time after that, I guess six months or so, but that seems too short. It was probably longer. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s all a blur.
Interestingly, if you were to ask him now, I don’t know that he would appear to care at all about what happened in those months or the years leading up to them. He’s convinced himself it was all a dream, maybe; I don’t know. Maybe if he was being honest with himself, if you caught him in a lucid moment, he’d tell you. It has to exist inside him somewhere. At least that’s what I tell myself. He has to be human somewhere in there, he has to know. I think if I’m being realistic, I know that he can’t possibly care. His psyche is built on avoidance of emotion and responsibility – he’ll never understand or concern himself with what he did. He'll never be honest with anyone about it, and that's what I hate the most. He's leaving me to be the only one to carry the memory of that time. To carry the memory of our daughter.
This is all a lot of back story to tell you what I need to forgive myself for. I need to forgive myself for not leaving, for staying with him when I should have left. I should have left a thousand times in those 7 years, but if I had been smarter and stronger, I would have left him when he was discharged from the military. I would have left. I should have left, but I didn’t. I remember literally crying myself to sleep next to him more nights than not, I remember the things he said, the things he did… And I didn’t leave.
Because I didn’t leave, my baby died. He killed her. And I let him.
I need to forgive myself for that. It’s been more than five years. I’ll never, ever manage it. Ever. I need to forgive myself, because not being able to let it go ties me to it, and the sickness from then snakes its way up and along that cord, and into my heart. I’ll never heal, and I know that. There will always be a dark, poisoned part of myself that lingers from then. A ghost of the baby that died and the girl who let it all happen and the man that made it all possible.
My grief lingers. My shame, my humiliation, my horror at what took place during those months. I sharpen it all, use it as a dagger to impale myself on, aiming for that rotten bit on the dark side of my heart. I don’t know if I’m trying to excise it or reopen the old wound. I don’t know if there’s a difference anymore.
I need to forgive myself. But I won’t.