Another blogger I follow took a brave step to write about something she had feared to say publicly, and it’s nudged me to do the same. There are many things I’ve wanted to write about but fear, for various reasons, has gripped and silenced me. Even as I write this now I keep freezing, my mind goes blank and I question myself. But I also feel like it will release a weight off of my shoulders, to speak publicly about my experiences. There’s only one way to find out, I guess.
*Edited to add: I am no longer in the abusive relationship I refer to on my blog, as a few of you have asked. But that relationship has left its scars and I’ve only just begun to own my story, understand the impact it’s had on me and makes steps to heal from it.
I remember being at the home I shared with my partner, I would have been around 20 years old. He was agitated about something, I don’t remember what. What I do remember, is by this time in our relationship I’d reached a point of being so exhausted from the mental abuse that I’d resorted to a new tactic to cope, I zoned out. I would switch off my emotions, and just let my physical body function.
He wanted my attention, but I couldn’t give it to him, he was not reasonable or rational when he was like that. So I continued with what I was doing, taking the trash out to the back garden. It was night time and very dark out, just the glow from our living room and the street lamp next to our garden. I placed the bags down and turned to walk back to the house. As I looked up, he was standing at the patio doors looking smug. My heart sunk and panick began to set in, anxious to understand why he looked like that. He made a point of dramatically sliding the patio door shut. Then he locked the door before flashing me a final smug look, then closed the curtains.
I stared back at the house in disbelief. This was new.
I felt like some sort of abandoned animal out in the woods. I suddenly became very aware that I was on my own and I did not feel safe. My nerves became frantic as I patted my pockets. I had no coat, no keys, no phone, no money. I felt powerless and full of shame.
I was used to him calling the shots and playing along, but this was too much. I couldn’t bear it. I had to get out. I looked to the gate but it was padlocked and the key was inside of course. But I could climb the wall and over the fence…i hesitated. It didn’t feel right, the embarrassment and desperation of escaping my own garden was almost enough to make me stop and crumble where I stood. The only feeling stronger than that deep despair, was the sheer rage at realising my only alterative was having to wait until he permitted me to return to shelter, and that I might even have to beg for it.
I climbed the wall and over the fence. My body was pumping adrenaline on overdrive as I ran down the road away from the house. Reality hits me as I’m running that I have no game plan here. I still have no keys, phone or money, what was I planning on doing? I just wanted my mum, and she was only a 10 minute drive away but I was on foot, at night, on my own, several estates away from her that were not safe to walk through alone at night.
I ran in her direction at least, and stopped at a bus stop not far from my house. I was freaking out. I had no money to pay for a bus. My only plan was to explain my situation to the next driver that came past and hoped he would believe me and take me without paying the fare. All the while I am absolutely shitting myself. My brain was an instant mess of thoughts, wondering just what sort of bed I was making for myself here. If I wasn’t prepared to leave him, this was going to be a dangerous move to let my mum know this had happened, he wasn’t going to take that well, I’d pay for it. I felt sick.
After what felt like forever, a bus approached with what symbolised my freedom. I felt the tiniest ounce of relief coming with that bus, petrified at the same time, knowing that once I boarded I was committing to this and I so feared the consequences.
And just like that, my hope was snuffed out. He’d found me.
His car came roaring up the road, past me and thumped up onto the kerb. To this day when I remember it, it wasn’t like a normal car, it was as if it had doubled in size like some sort of crazy tank, I half expected it to transform into a robot brandishing guns.
He got out of the car and just stared at me, staying by his door. I looked up at the bus driver, who was now in front of me with the doors open, also staring at me, looking confused and slightly concerned.
I froze. I wanted to get on that bus so badly. 30 year old me still wants 20 year old me to get on that bus. But I couldn’t move with his stare burning into the side of my face, it was like a ball and chains. I hoped my eyes might say enough to the driver, in the way my partners eyes were saying enough to me. My message didn’t get through.
The weight of defeat engulfed me. I walked over to his car and silently got in, the bus drove away, no one said a word. He didn’t need to, my fear and obedience ran so deep it was activated by his presence alone. He knew he had won, but he also knew he’d come very close to being publicly exposed and losing his control, so he kept his victory quiet on this occasion and I was spared for the rest of the night.
Back I went, in my ball and chains.