He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)
*Trigger Warning: Domestic abuse
In the history of the world, no one has ever loved anyone the way I loved my husband.
I felt that way all the way up until the moment he dislocated my rib cage.
He bought me my first car. I didn’t own a car until I was in my 30’s. I grew up poor. My first car was the BUS.
We’d only been dating 4 months when we celebrated our first Christmas together. He presented me with a brand new, cherry red Mazda Miata convertible.
I LOVED that car.
I named him “Herbie.” As in, the movie “The Love Bug?”
The very first week, I logged 800 miles, visiting every friend I had in the tri-state area.
For the first time in my life, I experienced the exhilarating sense of getting behind the wheel of my very own vehicle. He gave me my love of the open road. He called me “Road Warrior.” I called him “Heavyweight Champion of the Living Room.”
In a world where everything changes, the only constant for me has been my love of road trips.
He gave me that.
He also unearthed the soft white underbelly under my fierce determination to rely on no one, EVER. Found in me the little girl who grew up abused and abandoned. And filled that great yawning abyss of feeling unloved.
Accepting love is a muscle that can atrophy if you let it go unexercised too long.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
–The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
His love for me was stronger than anything I had ever experienced since the death of my oldest brother. The first few years of our marriage were unequivocally the happiest years of my life.
In a world where everything changes, the only constant is change.
My husband got into serious trouble, and lost everything – including his ability to make a living. I stood by him, because I loved him. For Better Or For Worse.
We switched roles. He became the stay at home parent, and I the provider. I backed into a successful business purely by accident. But this unorthodox and unexpected role reversal was brutal for him.
It soured our relationship irreparably.
Love truly is blind.
I was blind to the years he made a pretense of earning a living while gradually bankrupting me.
I was blind to his pathological lying.
As it all unraveled he transformed into someone I didn’t recognize. Or was he always like that?
Eventually all his financial malfeasance surfaced.
That doesn’t begin to describe your feelings when you realize your spouse has created massive debt in your name. With bills sent to post office boxes you didn’t know existed.
When it first erupted into violence, 6 years ago, I was FEARLESS.
I’m from New York. If you’re gonna hit me with a shovel, I’m going to hit you with a bigger shovel.
We might have beaten each other to death, Mad Max Thunderdome style in my garage, had my then 4-year-old son not wandered in. I saw the fear in his eyes, and I STOPPED.
I threw my son in the car and got on a highway. Drove to my NY BFF’s house upstate New York.
I filed for a restraining order and threw my husband out.
One night I received a phone call from my gym, which is affiliated with a medical center. A child in the playroom had been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis – the fatal kind. They were contacting every family who’d had a child in that playroom in the last 2 days.
My son had come home that day with a fever and a stiff neck. I was told by the nurse on the telephone to wake him up immediately and bring him to the ER. I argued with her that to do so would terrify him.
She told me that if I waited until morning, he might not be alive.
Our conversation was interrupted by the ambulance she had dispatched, screeching into my driveway.
My son screamed in pain and fear for hours while they ran a battery of tests on him. Around dawn my husband showed up and my son calmed down. Daddy was here.
Maybe, if I had family or friends nearby.
Maybe, if I hadn’t thought my son might die.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
The next day, my husband moved back in.
For the next 2 years I accepted his outbursts of violence and told no one.
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Then, more crushing debt surfaced. Reluctantly, I decided to tap into my savings to show my intent to pay.
There was no money in that account.
There was no money in that account?
MY LIFE SAVINGS – GONE.
That doesn’t begin to describe your feelings when you realize your spouse has emptied your bank account. Ten years ago I had earmarked it for my son’s college fund. There was at least 2 full years paid for in there.
Not any more.
I started the fight that time, punching and kicking him.
He smacked me away, and caught my lip, which opened and bled.
I tasted the blood. And got up in his face.
“IS THAT THE BEST YOU CAN DO, BITCH?! IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?!
BRING IT, MOTHERFUCKER!!!”
I literally flew across the room.
He’d full-on punched me square in my chest. His 220 lbs to my 110.
My heart stopped beating.
Every time I tried to sit up, excruciating pain tore through my chest.
Slowly, painfully, I put my 6-year-old in the car.
And got on a highway. Fled like a thief in the night all the way to Boston.
I made up an elaborate story to my college BFF about my injury.
It was a dislocated ribcage. But really?
That was the day my heart broke. For good and forever.
I’ve had to file for bankruptcy. The house I broke my back saving the down payment for – is lost.
It’s just a house.
It was my first ever backyard with a swing set and trampoline and everything my son deserves and will no longer have.
My Ex likes to remind me that I’m nothing more than an ex-junkie stripper whore.
Yes. I know.
He has erupted into violent fury over imaginary transgressions. I’ve been advised by my lawyer, my therapist and the police to keep a bag packed at all times. Store it in the trunk of my car. Have a shelter ready to flee to with my son.
I’ve kept his abuse my secret for 6 years.
Two months ago, he flew into one of his irrational rages.
He smashed my laptop. He grabbed the extension cord and began hitting me with it. I tried to diffuse his rage, hoping to not wake up my son, dodging the blows that were opening up cuts on my arms and legs.
Not satisfied with what he was inflicting on me, he wrenched our child out of bed. My son was crying and terrified, and I was screaming at my Ex to get out.
Madness. Dysfunction. Chaos.
I ran for the bedroom and locked us in there until he left.
Just a few minutes later, my phone buzzed. Lizzi was Facebook messaging me.
And in that moment – I needed her desperately. Her kind words; her gentle voice. Her beautiful soothing English accent. Her humanity.
Never before had anyone seen me like that. Hysterical. Sobbing. Frightened. Broken and bleeding and bruised.
We spoke until daylight.
My secret was out.
And now I need to tell it. If even ONE WOMAN feels less alone, then writing this will have been worth it.
I want this post to end the way other domestic abuse stories do.
Even with him out of my house, and locks changed, I don’t feel safe.
You think the police can protect you from an irrational person who wants to harm you?
It’s not even me I worry about. He could kill me for all I care. It’s my son. What toll is this taking on his psyche? How will he grow up and learn how to treat women with respect?
And should I end up dead? What will happen to my son?
The height of irony is my Ex accusing me of wanting to be with another man.
I will never, EVER allow myself to get close to someone like that again.
If I even suspect someone likes me, I make sure to drive them away.
If I’m intimate with someone, I make sure it’s somebody who cares as little about me as possible.
We accept the love we think we deserve.
People often tell me that I’ll heal when I find the “right person.”
Not a chance.
For what? To strip me of my worldly possessions and my self-esteem?
Happily ever after isn’t REAL.
What’s REAL is that I spend my life looking over my shoulder.
We accept the love we think we deserve.
I have that bag packed in my trunk.
Some day, I’m just going to get in my car.
Get on a highway.
And just drive.
And keep on going.
And never come back.
*This post is dedicated to my SisterWives, who supported me in writing this. Thank you. I love you.
Do you have a story about domestic abuse?
Talk to me. I’m listening.