>>>>CONTENT FLAG<<<< Trigger warning
It wasn’t the first time I had been lost and thrown about in that pool of hopelessness and futility. As you looked at me balled up on the stairs, something mysteriously hidden under my arm, your nostrils flared. I was crying and had been for days now. You came and went, aware of the fire burning in the pit of my belly. Still you kept leaving me there to suffer.
“I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired of it.”
“What the f*** is your problem now?”
“You. Just you. If you went away everything would be fine.”
He stared at me, and I could feel the anger building within him like an inferno.
“You think I care? Do you think if you cry enough that I will stay here?”
“I don’t want you to stay here. I want it all to stop.”
“You’re such a stupid idiot. I don’t have time for this.”
“You never have time for anything but rock and whores.”
He moved toward me in an attempt to see what I was holding, but I pushed it behind me.
“This is all a show. What did you go and do that you had to act this out?”
“You’ve ruined my life. I’m tired of being locked up in this apartment. I’m tired of you running the streets. I’m tired of you beating me. I just want it to stop.”
“You f****** crazy, you hear me? Ain’t nobody doin’ nothin’ to you that you didn’t ask for!”
“How would you explain it if you came back here and I was gone? What would you do?”
I maneuvered myself off the stairs, went into the bathroom, and stood staring at myself in the mirror. A million thoughts went through my mind: “This is never going to stop. I’m never going to get away. They’ve all left me here to die. How could they all leave me here with this monster? It’s got to stop, God. It’s got to stop. I’m not living like this anymore. I refuse to live.”
He was standing in the living room looking toward the direction of the bathroom waiting to see what I was doing. When I emerged, the tears had finally stopped. As I stood next to the table, I slammed the bottle I had concealed behind my back on the glass top. The salt and pepper shakers clacked together violently in protest. He squinted his eyes at me in annoyance. I was being inconvenient again.
“You’re crazy for real.”
“I don’t think that’s true. I think I have had enough. If I am going to die here, it’s going to be on my terms, and you’re going to be witness.”
I cracked open the bottle.
“You think that’s going to stop me from leaving?”
“Does it matter? Isn’t it obvious that isn’t what I’m doing?”
“Go ahead and do it. Everyone would be better off without your stupid a** anyway. Acting like you’re worth something… no one will even notice if you’re gone!”
I threw the lid at his face, put the bottle to my lips, and drank it down.
“F*** this, I’m getting out of here. Crazy b****!”
The door slammed shut behind him. Not really feeling much surprise at his choice, I walked over to the kitchen sink, rinsed out the bottle, and left it on the counter. Had I really fallen so far that I was going on about my business like I had not done the thing I just did? I was numb. A foreign sensation of emotion washed over me as it started to burn, a pain only exceeded by the hurt that bore down on my heart. My mind started racing, and I began to panic. What did I do? How could I be so stupid?
The neighbors weren’t home. I had no phone. In the throes of a panic attack and doubled over in pain, I made my way over to the computer and searched for my own solution. It was a miserable experience. I dealt with it on my own, much like everything else, and I never told anyone what happened. With so many faster routes on-hand in the apartment I could have availed myself of, I chose the slowest, most painful option. I can only surmise that I did so because I had been drowning in numbness and just wanted to feel something, anything one last time before I bowed out.
The next day, after he had finally gotten some sleep, he accosted me at the bottom of the stairs as I stood in the living room. I had taken plenty of time to think about what happened the day before, and I was in no mood for his garbage.
“If you ever do anything like that again, I will embarrass you so bad, you will never want to leave the house. It will be so bad, you really will want to die, and I will leave.”
“Like you already did? What kind of human being does that to someone? Someone who loves me? The same person who puts his hands on me, steals from me, and runs around in the streets smoking his face off? Tell me how that’s love.”
“Oh you been talking to somebody, ain’t you?”
“Don’t you have to go smoke yourself into a stupor? Just go away. Just go.”
And with that, he was gone again. Oddly, I felt something I hadn’t for a long time. The will to live cropped up after being resigned so long that I was not going to get out alive. And so began the long fight day in and day out against the beast who tried his best to snuff that life out of me. He did not win. This one thing I am grateful to say, he failed at.
The trouble is, I find myself becoming agitated and burdened again. Suffocating under the weight of frustration, being caught in a rut, buried under a mountain that only seems to grow. It is not a lack of gratitude or self-pity washing over me; it’s exhaustion from having to fight every day for years on end to keep my head above water. It isn’t a loss of the desire to live; it’s the endless expense of effort I use to fight the battles that never seem to stop.
The financial loss from Kevin has taken its toll on me, but in an indirect way. I don’t care about things I had to leave behind, but still the mountain holds me back and holds me against my will. Being $200,000 behind (all things accounted for) means I can’t put the car on the road, which severely limits something so simple as my mobility and my independence. I still cannot afford to move out of the family’s house. Which means that I, as a grown 37-year-old woman, have been relegated to the status of a child. I rely on others’ availability to get around. I have to do things on their schedule and make huge amounts of compromise and endless concessions that are never made for me in return. I have no privacy, I find myself always being pushed to explain where I am and when I am coming home, and I am trapped in these walls just the same as if I was with Kevin.
I am constantly being pressured about getting the car on the road (which has been temporarily derailed since the IRS sucked away my refund), when I am getting an apartment, why can I not afford to go here or there like others, since I don’t have bills and I live at home… When the truth is that I live at home because I have too many debtors coming to call at once, and I am drowning. Flailing, splashing about as I furiously tread water, and no one even notices. No one even feels what I am carrying, and still they call my mood into question, telling me that I am being ungrateful. That I should get over it, because I am gone.
What am I doing wrong that I ended up back here again, with my back against the wall and the mob in my face? Some days I am tired of the fight, I am tired of the endless work, and winning battles I didn’t wage. I am tired of pushing myself and being silent for their comfort, and I am tired of dead air when I try to ask for help.
I am not a foolish, naïve, oblivious woman. I am not new to this fight, not by any means, as it is decades old now. I know the cycles I face, and I know how frightfully desperate the suffocation can feel. Logically I know that it’s the pain making it so unbearable, but why do I find my thoughts wandering to this one day on the stairs now of all times? I haven’t slept a measurable amount going on a week. My appetite is all out of whack. I have no patience, and I am withdrawing. And no one notices. No one sees the obvious signs and reaches out to ask if I am okay. I just get sarcasm and judgment and indifference, and all I want is peace. I want someone to listen and let me talk instead of cutting me off and telling me to suck it up or trying to cheer me up and not let me purge what needs to be purged.
I am not a vacuum.