Standing Tall

The apartment smelled fabulous when I got back home from Yoga class. Ed Sheeran was crooning through the speakers. I glanced into the kitchen and saw him swaying to the music while stirring something on the hot plate. 

‘Hey good morning,’ I called out as I got closer. ‘What’s cooking?’ He held a spoon out, I gingerly tasted the scrambled egg. Too much salt, too soggy. ‘Umm, it’s delicious.’

I walk over to him and press my lips to his lips. He responds with tongue. Lots of tongue. Our respective schedules keep us busy. Breakfast is the only thing we get to catch up. He slides his hand down to my neck and spins me so I’m against the counter. I gasp. He pushes himself against me from behind and slides his hand down the side of my body. I press my palms into the granite and close my eyes. 

Suddenly I felt a piercing stink on my nape, I spin around and he is grinning. ‘Don’t fucking bite me.’ I yelled irritated. He gives me an innocent look. He leans forward and presses his lips to mine. I expect a peck but he doesn’t pull back. The tip of his tongue slides across my lips parting them. He grabs my tongue and bites it hard. I have tears in my eyes. I close my eyes submitting myself to the unpleasantness when from the corner of my right eye I can see smoke.

‘Oh shit,’ I say pushing him away. He turned and rushed towards the hotplate.

‘Wait, you need a ……’

‘Fuck,’ he yells.

‘……Cloth to hold the handle of the pan.

The pan falls from his hand and lands on the floor, scrambled egg all over the place.

‘Oh God, everything is a mess…….. are you okay? Are you hurt?’ 

He moves to the sink faucet, shoving his hands under the cold water muttering curse words. I lean over to get a look at his hand.

‘God dammit, what were you thinking, you know the handle gets hot while cooking and you need a cloth to hold it how…..’

I’m not talking anymore. I’m on the floor. In a matter of one second his arm came out of no where and slammed against me, knocking me backward. There was enough force behind it to knock me off balance. Pain shoots through my hips. Heaviness follows, and it presses down on every part of me. My tears, my heart, my soul all shattered. 

‘You fucking bitch,’ I hear him say, 

‘How many times have I told you to get rid of the pan? You don’t listen.’

I don’t look up at him. His voice doesn’t penetrate through my body. It feels like it’s stabbing me now, and the sharpness of each of his words coming at me like swords. 

I’m aware my relationship was an abusive one – physically and emotionally. I was not weak; I was an intelligent, caring, strong woman who simply fell in love with a man who didn’t deserve me at all. I choose to forgive him the first time he abused me because his apology and regret were believable, or at least believable enough that giving him a second chance hurt less than leaving with a broken heart. 

Overtime, the incidents that followed were similar. He would repeatedly show remorse and promise to never do it again. It finally got to the point I knew his promises were empty. I knew I had to break the pattern before the pattern broke me. 

Leaving him was one of the most painful decisions of my life, for he was the man I loved with all my heart. I wasn’t rescued by another man – a knight in shining armour. I took the initiative to leave him knowing I was about to embark on a completely different kind of struggle. 

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