He walked into the court room and suddenly I thought I might throw up. I wanted him not to see us. I felt sorry for him. To find out we knew this way. As if it were some big conspiracy. But it wasn’t. I just needed to hear the truth.
He left almost as soon as he arrived and I was afraid he was gone for good. My sister asked me if I wanted her to go talk to him and I knew what I had to do. I gathered as much courage as I had inside myself, I turned the recorder on in my phone, slipped it back into my purse, and walked, shaking, out of the court room. He was on a bench. And when I saw him, I couldn’t help break into a nervous smile. Our history flooded back to my heart and mind. For a second I wished it hadn’t ended up quite the way it did.
“If you are here to use this against me—”
“What? No. I just want some answers.”
I sat down beside him and he told me he’d been framed. She was crazy. She should be institutionalized. And he sounded so sincere. I wanted to believe him.
I knew our time together was unhealthy, but it wasn’t until after our talk on the bench that day I realized the extent of the damage he’d done. To me, all those years ago. I knew he was hurtful. But I always said we brought out the worst in each other. And that I’d made so many mistakes that hurt him. In all honesty, I had. But we’ve been apart for nine years, and last month was the first time I took myself out of the fault equation long enough to realize the truth. That I had been in a sexually abusive relationship for three years.
I hope to God he didn’t hurt the girl that accused him. But I can no longer deny what he did to me.
“Now I knew why sex was the biggest hurdle in our marriage. I knew why I felt dizzy and anxious whenever the mood shifted as we headed to bed. And I hated it. I hated this story I knew was my own because how could I be the wife I knew I needed to be – the wife I was taught about in high school and college – if I couldn’t offer my husband what he needed without falling into a frenzy of triggers?” +Elora Nicole
I didn’t breathe reading Elora’s post a few weeks ago. I had wanted to find relief, to begin to understand why sex inside my marriage today, with my attractive, sweet, and funny husband, was so difficult to wrap my brain around. But the anger I felt was toward myself. I was the one who’d messed up. I was the one who’d gone astray. So many one night stands from my past. So many pieces of my soul given away so flippantly. I was Voldemort. And this was my punishment.
How do you not know it’s abuse? Last week I explained why I think feminism matters. These rules and walls and ways of being we’ve constructed, that tell us that it can’t be rape if you’re in a relationship, among other things. They keep us broken and silent and hurting.
I am so good at blaming myself. I’ve made an art of it. But I’m learning that some masterpieces are meant to be thrown in the trash.
For the first time in a very long time I have hope. I believe I can begin to heal from the trauma of my past because I have new eyes to look at it. It makes me uncomfortable to make light of my past indiscretions. But when my ex and I broke up, I felt inexplicably free. I didn’t know it at the time, but I think I was trying to figure out what it meant to enjoy sex. The horcruxes I created made it worse, yes. But that doesn’t mean I have to carry all the blame. It doesn’t mean God is punishing me.
And I can’t help but think that when John the Baptist preached, “Repent!” and urged us to turn around and go the other way, this was one big, beautiful part of what he was talking about.