I have lived my life in a blender, been tossed about like a rag doll, stepped on, spat on, pummeled on, and beaten down. I have been dragged around, thrown about, pushed down, and forcibly held down. I have been bullied, punched, slapped, kicked, and throttled. I have been choked, had a knife to my throat, bullets in my face, and a hammer brandished above my head. I have been beaten repeatedly with a metal bar, had boards broken on my leg, and cans repeatedly bashed into my head. I have had my head rammed into door frames, been thrown into glass tables, dragged out of the house against my will and faced you with a tire iron in the cold New York winter. I have been whipped with cords, wrestled free of being strangled, suffocated, and brutalized. And worse. Jehovah knows I have seen much worse, that I have been put through things and forced to witness things no human being should see.
Maybe you gave me some black eyes, and maybe those lumps under my skin are from where you kicked me. Maybe I have migraines and memory loss from you pummeling my head. Maybe my legs ache and throb twenty-four hours a day, and I can barely walk in the winter. Maybe my tailbone is on fire where you kicked me, and perhaps I am never comfortable whether I sit or stand, walk or lie down. I will look upon those marks you left behind every day of my life, and maybe I just may end up in a wheelchair one day. Perhaps I will never be entirely free of the fight from my triggers and the chaos they churn up in my head.
But for all your effort exerted in massive force, despite your insistence, persistence that you would beat me into submission or kill me trying, despite the weapons you employed and the anger and hate that fueled your violence, YOU FAILED.
You did not beat me down permanently. You did not force me into submission without a fight. You did not render me silent without stealing away my voice by force. You didn’t extinguish my will. You didn’t snuff out my spark. You did not break my heart. It wasn’t yours to take. It wasn’t yours to have. It wasn’t yours at all.
I don’t feel sadness or weep at the marks you left behind, not I , not this woman. No, not anymore. I don’t seethe with anger or burn with rage over the things you took and the things you hastily destroyed, and I don’t mourn the time I lost fighting to stay alive. I don’t regret leaving when I did, how long it took me to leave, and I am not ashamed. I am not humiliated or embarrassed, and to your lunacy, your spite, your cruelty I stake no claim.
You didn’t win. You didn’t beat me. I am alive. Not broken or shattered, and not torn and battered. I am whole. I am courageous. I am strong. I am beautiful. And above all, I am loving and kind. None of these things did you succeed in ripping away. I am whole. I am alive.
And you will no longer be anything more to me that proof, evidence, verification that I am amazingly me. And you and your three hundred pound frame couldn’t even beat it out of me. For all the damage you left behind, it seems, after all, that you’re the broken one. Not me.