We all have pivotal moments in our lives—an action, an experience, something that happens that changes all that came before and affects all that will come.
My life changed the day I sat waiting in a downtown ER because the man I loved had given me a concussion.
I went alone, too embarrassed to tell anyone. To this day, very few people know about this time in my past. And I liked it that way.
What would have airing my dirty laundry—as my Nana would have said, done for me? Would it have turned back the clocks? Dried the long ago evaporated tears, healed old bruises, fixed what was once broken? Better to seal the box and move on. Too bad the subconscious does not work that way. Too bad that years since, I had stood in front of my ex and actually begged him not to leave me. I was still scared. Too bad my nightmares showed all that I hid from in the light.
I am now a world away from that broken girl. I am engaged to an amazing man, in a great place career wise and from all outside perspectives, living an incredible life. And I am. On good days I live in a state of gratefulness. I am grateful that I was able to claw my way out of the dark. I am grateful for the family and friends that never abandoned me. Grateful for the strength of spirit I never knew I had.
But I find the further I heal, the more hidden wounds crop up. You can only bury unresolved emotions for so long before they start to fester and infect. Because you cannot live forever in fear from the boogeyman. Because there is no boogeyman; there is only you.
There is no longer anyone threatening me. I no longer have to hide inside myself, walk on eggshells and live in a constant state of hyper-vigilance. I have not had to live that way for years. And in reality, I never really had to.
The choice was always mine, to stay and try and mend what was never mine to fix. Despite the bitter joy of hindsight, I still have a lot of untouched crap to sort through. Unreleased negative emotions still swim around looking for a port.
The reason for this might be my long ago personal choice to remain silent. It made sense at the time. I was not the one that ended whatever we had been to one another. And I loved him for right or wrong.
There it is in print. I can no longer hide from it.
I loved my abuser more than I had ever loved any man up to that point. And I did not want out from him.
I wanted to protect him still. Or, did I really just want to protect myself? Pretend that none of it ever happened?
You might ask how could I love a violent man that much? How did I end up in my late 20s crushed, heartbroken and penniless? Because love is not anymore black and white than life is. Because not all ‘bad’ guys are always ‘bad’ and not all ‘good’ girls are always ‘good.’
If I sit here and say I never did anything to hurt the man in question I would be lying. I played my share of mind games, flung out my share of insults and even gave back some of the violence I was given. Yes, I, a quiet and otherwise unassuming woman, have the potential to be an abuser in her own right.
And that is the part that haunts me most of all. What does this realization do to our past? Does it rewrite our history? Does it make what he did to me OK? Does it make what I did justified? Or, does it just mean that life is messy, complicated and sometimes just plain f*cked?
As I write this and wander around in the shadows of my past, I realize something. Somewhere along the way I have forgiven him. I am forgiving myself.
We are imperfect creatures. We do our best, we do our worst and in the meantime we live.
So he shall live wherever he is and I shall live this (im)perfect life I have created out of duct tape and new beginnings. And may the cycle end with us. Because after all, I no longer believe in love at first sight, lust and butterflies. I believe in Timshel. The concept of ‘Thou Mayestx’; we have a choice in everything we do no matter what came before or what will come after. We always have a choice.
Corinne Casella was born and raised in New Jersey and now resides along the banks of the Hudson in Jersey City. She is a freelance writer & editor with over seven years of professional experience. Combining writing and yoga to her is a logical step, because if anything can bring about change in a world as large as ours, it’s through our open hearts and our pens. Connect with Corinne on her Website.
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Assistant Ed: Gabriela Magana/Ed: Brianna Bemel