The thoughts and stories are all from the heart and the truth as I have experienced it. While Emma Seward is not my legal name it is a part of me and is the name that uses my voice to tell my stories. At times, the things I have to say can be disturbing and possibly incriminating of others. This is why I have decided to use pseudonym. Please know this is the only piece of myself that is not genuine and true.
I was trying to remember the first time. The first time he was violent towards me. And I can’t. I have plenty of memories of incidents in my mind, but the first is not there. I got to wondering why that is. Maybe I was so stunned the first time that I blocked it from my memory? Maybe I thought it was a one time, fluke sort of thing and therefore wasn’t worth remembering. I don’t know why I don’t remember the first time. Or why certain events stick out more than others. I suppose nobody really knows why we remember what we do.
I remember one night we had been arguing. And as usual, I have no idea over what. I had left and I remember sitting in the parking lot in my car-bawling. I don’t know if the argument had turned physical before I left or not. Most likely yes, or at least there were threats of violence. What I do remember is getting out of my car, crying and saying a prayer because I knew I would probably die if I went back in that apartment. I’m trying to find the words to describe the feeling and I can’t. It was a combination of terror, relief, and resignation. And yet, believing that I would be killed, I still went in. I don’t know why. It’s almost like I wasn’t even scared. Maybe it really was resignation that if I die, then this will finally all be over. Again, who knows? When I did enter, I’m not even sure what happened. Clearly I didn’t die. But that feeling, that awful, soul consuming feeling still haunts me every now and then. That’s what I remember. But honestly, I have to even call it a memory. Because it’s so real. I swear sometimes the feeling courses through my veins even now- years later. So it’s hard to call it a memory when it’s still here.
When I do think about my past and these situations. My mind always lands on trust. Every. Single. Time. When you get married and give your heart and soul and body to someone else. Which, when written down is incredibly terrifying really. I did my job and I cared and loved so tenderly. It used to be unfathomable that that wasn’t what I would get in return. You’re not supposed to have thoughts of getting killed. You’re not supposed to genuinely believe you will die at his hands. You’re not supposed to be told by him “I will end you” or “You are finished”. The person you are supposed to trust the most isn’t the one you’re supposed to be afraid of. There it is. Trust.
I can forgive him, and I have. But, forgiveness doesn’t change what happened. And he is working on his issues now, but it’s not enough. Too much has been taken. Too much trust has been broken. I just hope someday that someone will see these things I have been through and love me even more because of it. I can heal from this, and learn from it, and grow from it. But it will always be there. Always be a part of me. And I am slowly realizing that that’s ok. I believe that there is someone out there who won’t break my trust. Someone who will love me and care for me and keep me safe. I know it may take me a while and the trust will not be so freely given. But I will. I will trust and love again.
I can still feel the grip on my wrists. My arms above my head. Each of his hands like a claw, tight around my wrist. It’s dark, I can scarcely see. My mind is going a million places. Why did I come here? What is wrong with you? How do you leave? Where are the exits? Then my thoughts are interrupted. An interruption that is still played out in my mind. I can hear the gruff timbre to his voice. I hear the words I will replay a 1,000 times in my mind.
You realize I can do whatever I want to you and there’s nothing you could do to stop me.
And he was right. I couldn’t stop him and I knew it. That was almost the worst part. Knowing he was right. Knowing what was to happen. To this day, I still can’t recall the particulars of what came next. Some days I am ok with that. Others, it bothers me to no end. It makes me feel like I made it up. But I know I didn’t. It is amazing what the mind can do when it is trying to protect you.
As he lay asleep I remember trying to recall where my clothes were. Thinking about if I should leave. How do I leave? I had no car. I did have my cell phone, but this was before smartphones. I didn’t have any way of looking up a cab company. Then he suddenly bolted awake and left his apartment. No shoes, no clothes, nothing. Yes, strange I know. But I knew it was my chance. So I jumped out of his bed and started putting my clothes on. No sooner had I put my pants on and he was back. Angrily asking why they were on and instantly pulling them off again. He stood behind me rubbing his hands and his manhood up and down my backside. This time, that’s where it stopped. He flopped into bed pulling me down with him. Stuck in the bed with him once more. When morning came he acted as if nothing happened. So I did too. He had no recollection of leaving his apartment in the middle of the night. He actually kept asking if I was serious. I don’t remember getting into his car, or the drive home, or getting out. Obviously, they all happened. I’m here now.
I still go back to that night sometimes. Replaying the events in my head. Always a different ending, different choices, different paths. I could have screamed. I could have fought. I could have run out and called any number in my phone until someone picked up. I often think about calling a co-worker who didn’t live far. I could have called him. He could have come. Could have saved me. Maybe that’s what it is, a want or a need to be rescued. Then I come back to reality. I can’t live in a fantasy of the past. All I can do is plan for the future. If I am ever in that position again maybe next time I won’t hesitate.
I’m not saying that I can’t hardly believe it myself.
But it’s how it happened.
One day I woke and knew it was all wrong. My being, my appearance, my marriage, my entire life. I was so far from myself. So incredibly distant that I began to question if I ever truly knew myself to begin with. For a brief moment I forgot the last six years had happened and questioned how in the hell I came to this place.
Then the fleeting moment ended, and the flood gates flew open.
The heartache, the pain, the suffering. All of it. The strange part is, it’s embarrassment I am overcome with-coupled with a pinch of anger. Anger directed at myself mostly.
Looking back I suppose it may not have happened so abruptly. But at the time, my conscious was not there. The coming weeks were spent in battle with myself. My heart vs. my head. My imagination vs. my intuition. How was I ever going to tell the difference? One thing was certain, I gave up on myself. I broke every promise I made to myself. I was living the exact life I said I never would. And I knew, in my heart that I, alone, was to blame. The reality is, anger doesn’t begin to cover it.
Could it be a mid-life crisis? Or possibly God himself slapping me across the face. Like most young girls and women, I had dreams of falling madly in love. Like the love in a country song. Like the love that others pretend to be sickened by, but secretly want. But Lord, was that a far cry from the place I was standing. Could I ever be there? Is anyone ever really there? I didn’t know the answer. Wasn’t even sure I wanted to know the answer. It was in this moment that my heart was screaming at me.
“No! He is not your home! He is not our home!”
And I knew it was true. So here I was. Here I am really. 31 years old standing alone at a major crossroad. Two reflections staring back at me. Two paths to take. Which one is the “right” one. Which one doesn’t ruin the rest of my life. Which one leads me to my truest form of my being. The me that is at peace with my soul. How do I chose? Because there is no having both. But even in this moment, there is only one true, clear path. The true question is, am I brave enough to choose it.