We cheered and ranted on at the baseball game. It was a blast. We laughed and kissed. It was a perfect day. Then, it became the worst day, and I wished I had stay home.
We left the game and went to this bar, a bar where he was a bouncer. I tried to pretend I was comfortable there, but I wasn’t. Not at all. I looked at every pretty girl and wondered, was it her he stayed out with? Was it her he flirted with? I tried to wash away my insecurities with a drink and some careless dancing. I flung myself around the dance floor, just feeling the music and…probably looking a bit foolish. I didn’t care though. I just wanted to be happy. I wanted to believe my guy was not flirting right there in front of me. So I danced. I laughed. I had the best time I could appear to have. Then I looked over and saw it.
He was kneeling before a seated girl. He was holding her hands and laughing. The way he looked into her eyes cut my heart. I had seen that look before, but that is another story. No. This was not happening again. I started to panic. “Stop. Don’t freak out. This is not then. It is not happening again. You are just being dramatic,” I told myself as I stood on the dance floor.
Finally, I willed my feet to move into the direction of the couple. My man and this pretty girl. As I approached, I thought to look cool and casual, so I kind of danced my way over to the table and approached with a big playful greeting. Their reply was not as welcoming, but merely a look of irritation. In my head I screamed and panicked, but outwardly, I managed to exchange some pleasantries. The unwelcome feeling was overwhelming though, so I made a quick exit back to the dance floor.
I couldn’t breath. I needed to leave. So, I forced a smile on my face and continued to dance for minute. And then, I literally danced and smiled out of the club. I found our car and threw myself onto the ground in the grass by the tree where the car parked. He had the key, so I couldn’t leave. I laid there, with my feet on the car and cried. It was exactly as I feared. He was cheating…again. This couldn’t get worse. Yet, it did and it did quickly.
Somewhere in the tears, I fell asleep. I guess my body just shut down between the alcohol, the hour and the stress. I woke up with him towering over me, glaring at me with such hatred. “What the fuck, Michelle! You embarrassed me.”
“Huh? How did I embarrass you? You were the one flirting! I was only dancing.”
“You made a scene and stormed out!”
“No! No, I didn’t. I danced out of the club. How the hell is that a storm? I danced out. Danced!”
“I brought you to where I work and you acted like a bitch and made scene. Get in the fucking car!”
“I am not going anywhere with you! And who is making the fucking scene now?” I screamed.
Angry words continued for a few minutes and I eventually got in the car because I always did what he said. I always gave in.
He sped off like someone who should not be driving. He made the scene he was embarrassed of. I said something to that extent. He called me names. I screamed in frustration. He called me more names. Then, I said something horrible. I don’t know what it was, but it must have been so horrible it required him to punch me in the face. Not a slap or a hit, but a full-fist punch. A punch so hard I bled. Instantly, I tasted the blood in my mouth. I felt a bit of something in my mouth—bits of my broken teeth.
He slammed the brakes on the car. I flew into the window, crying. He immediately started to apologize. He never wanted to be like his father. He was sorry. Oh my God, he was sorry. My life started to move in slow motion and I saw what I had become and I couldn’t stop it. Words started to flow from my bloody mouth. Words that were not true but yet, I felt compelled to say.
“No, it is my fault. I shouldn’t have said that. You would not have hit me if I didn’t say that. It’s OK. It is my fault.” What the fuck was I saying? Did I really just say that it was my fault that he punched me in the face because I said some words? Yep. I did. And I said them over and over again. I consoled HIM and wiped away HIS tears as I bled.
He got out of the car and told me to go home. He needed to be alone. I sat there for some amount of time. I didn’t want to leave him on the road. THAT would be wrong, wouldn’t it? Eventually though, I did leave. I drove home and did what any other girl who had just been punched in the face would do. I called my sister. She was out with her husband though on a rare late night. So I left a late night/early morning message that had to be somewhat both hysterical and scary to hear.
In between sobbing and gasping, I managed to say, “I just called…to say, hi…and I love you. Don’t worry….I …am…OK….Sorry….to call…so late.” And then tried to make it all better with a twisted laughing goodbye at the end.
I made that call while I was curled up on the floor of my laundry room, next to the cat litter. Yeah, that was the level of my mental status at the time. I was as good as the cat litter.
At one point, I woke up in bed. I don’t remember getting there. Nor do I recall the man that had a wet towel on my forehead. I knew him to be a friend of my man, but can’t place his name or face. He was kind though. He spoke to me gently and said he was sorry. The man who I cannot even remember said HE was sorry. HE held my hand and let me cry. HE spoke to my sister on the phone and told her I was OK. HE would ensure nothing else happened. And then, I drifted back to sleep.
That awful night was the beginning of the end. The end of a relationship that had started out so wonderful. Though there was not an escalation of more physical abuse, there was emotional and verbal. And nearly every time, I had an excuse for it. I let it happen. I contributed. I didn’t stop it. I couldn’t stop it. Or maybe, I didn’t want to stop it as it was becoming all I knew.
Years later and out of that relationship, I still cannot really understand my thoughts back then. And yet, every time I look in the mirror I am reminded of that night. All I have to do is look at the broken teeth in my mouth, and I am there. I am saying I am sorry. I am responsible for someone’s fist being thrown into my face. I can hear myself take the blame over and over, and I can only come up with one reason.
It was the only way to stop it. Clearly, fighting back had only enraged him so much that he hit me. Like an animal lying down to submit in a fight, I threw myself at his mercy. I pleaded for a truce. I promised to be good. I said I was sorry. I took the blame.
It is the only explanation that makes sense to me now. And I wonder, how many other women out there have had their best day turned into their worst…and think it is there fault?