This is something I never talk about. I gloss over it and pretend that my boyfriend isn’t really violent, because it happens so rarely. He’s shoved me topless and shoeless down flights of stairs, left bruises from grabbing my arm when he’s been angry, but those things— I can write those off. I am shaking as I write this. Last night we were at a wedding reception in Charlottesville (his family) and the slit in my dress ripped up my bum. A girl gave me a shawl to cover it, and I entertained myself while he wandered around. I started dancing with one of his female cousins, and he became irate that the shawl (apparently) didn’t cover everything. We left. As we drove down the road, he started telling me that he didn’t want to take me home, that I deserved to walk the streets of this strange town at night. He asked me to get out of the car. I didn’t want to. He threw my cell phone out the window, and then physically tried to throw me out. The next thing I know, the police are here, he’s run off down some alley or side road, and then I was at the police office having photos taken of my bruises, bitemarks and scabs…
It’s really over, I’ve got to find a new place to live, I’ve get to get my stuff out of the home we made together and all of his buildings downtown, I’ve got to decide whether or not to drop the charges that the officers decided to file for me because I was so inebriated. My life is over.
I always promised myself that this would never happen to me; I was too smart for it, because I’d seen it happening to my mother. The really sick thing is how much I love him and how badly I want it all just to be over. I wish I could be with him again. It will never happen, and we’d both be stupid if it did.
It did. I wrote that in 2005, while we had a temporary restraining order in place, between packing and moving my things into storage so that I could drive the 14 hours “home” to my family. The very hour the restraining order was up, we met. We talked about how much we loved each other and how tragic it was that our love was so cursed.
That night, he sent me a series of depressed and drugged suicidal texts, and I called his father to ask him to please, please check on his son.
He came by the hotel I was staying in as I rested to drive into the hazy homeward sunrise the next morning- to tell me one last time how much he loved me- while his dad waited to drive him to an inpatient rehab facility (which he never completed the program in).
I’d told a friend that was helping me move, “What do you bet I get home and find out I’m pregnant?” That is exactly what happened. “That idiot doesn’t even have to know about the baby,” my grandmother said.
I turned around, drove back, moved back in with him, and married the guy.
That is the definition of codependency.
And this is the definition of oversharing on the internet. Or is it? I broke up with and took him back more times than I can count. We divorced, he signed over full custody- and now we’re embroiled in a costly legal battle in which he’s accusing me of being a terrible mother, and asking for full custody.
There are so many women out there going through this exact same thing, and there are ways out. There are so many things I wish I could tell my 22 year old self. And my 25 year old self. And my 30 year old self. Breaking the cycle is hard. Unhealthy love is as intense as Twilight, and we’re all more interesting than Bella. But choosing to stay in the cycle is choosing something worse than dying: it’s choosing a life without living.
It’s your choice.