By Candace Roberts.
“Somehow I’ll manage to get through this day, too.” I thought to myself. It was a Monday. I had a full day of blocked lecture hours ahead of me. Ancient Greek History—8:30-10:20a.m., Women and Law—10:30-12:20 and Buddhism—12:30-2:20pm.
“Please, God, let this go by quickly.” I said under my breath. I knew it wouldn’t though and the day’s forecast was adding to my anxiety.
Seattle has flippant weather, sometimes. People that don’t live here usually have a grim view of the Northwest. No thanks to the media, Washington has the reputation of a dreary, depressing, state with consistent downpour. One day I’ll write about the beauties of this weather as they are magnificent and are never given enough credit. But this Monday’s ambience lived up to all of Hollywood’s generalizations. There wasn’t a break of sunlight as it was January and there was a constant airy midst that throughout the day would, at random, turn nasty for a minute. What a little tease, pouring for just a minute. Aside from the rainfall, it was freakin’ cold to the bone.
I looked around and saw that almost everyone, at least the girls anyway, were dressed like me- going for the standard wardrobe pick for Seattle winters. Ugg boots sloshing about, velour sweats tucked in, and a big Northface rain coat with the hoodie tied up under neck. No matter how rough the night before was for the typical college girl, no one really cared about committing fashion faux pas because no one wanted to feel the cold rain. Oh yes, and everyone was bookin’ it to class as fast as they could without looking like that one idiot actually running. Let’s be realistic, we have all been “that guy” before and probably not for the last time either. Whether we were running or not, it was the combination of wet, cold Seattle winter and sweaty college kid that inevitably created a class room environment that was simply gross.
Seated and feeling a hot mess in my unbearably hard, public University, sad excuse for a desk-slash-chair, I realized that the dang chair was actually kind of a problem underneath my bum. Early Greece at 8:30 am was not on my prioritized list of troubles, in fact I don’t remember a single thing that was said in class that day. My body was there…my mind was not. It was traveling methodically through the day that lay ahead of me. This day of scheduled sitting.
“Okay 570 minutes of class—did it before, I can do it again. Forty-five minute commute to work,—same shit, different day…totally do-able. Sitting in my wheelie chair at work for 5 hours— you’re getting paid, deal with it.”
My self-talk that day was not inspirational. It was hardly the usual positive vibe I mentally set myself up with, but it was completely necessary because I needed to distract myself.
As I heard the mundane and slightly monotone voice of my professor murmuring something in the background, I stayed negative in my thought.
“Uggh…how am I going to do this….how the hell am I going to sit here for two more hours?”
I was feeling agitated and fidgety from hearing all of my classmates squeak at the floor with their wet soles. People were smelly, their faces moist with oil and water. The room was stuffy as fuck. I wanted nothing more than to go home.
“Wait!” I thought. “Is that REALLY where I want to be?”
What waited for me at home was the cause of why I didn’t want to be stuck in a chair all day. It was because of him that I sat completely agitated, not from my classmates’ noisy rubber shoes on the cheap linoleum. I just made myself believe that they were the nuisance, but it really was him.
At the time, I thought it was my fault that I was sitting uncomfortably in my seat. With every hour that passed I wondered how I could go home, maintain a sense of diplomacy, and come to a loving understanding with him. I thought obsessively about how we could just kiss and make up, forgetting about the previous night completely. I didn’t know it, but this was impossible. My subconscious would never let me forget.
I was to sit in five different chairs that day knowing that I would feel the curvature of every single one against my bottom and thighs. While my professor lectured something about archaeological sites during the Bronze Age of Ancient Greece, I sat envisioning the frequent bodily readjustments I would be making throughout the day and calculating them at roughly 300 movements per chair. Perhaps the numbers were embellished, and perhaps the typical student wouldn’t even think to put themselves through such petty thought in class. I couldn’t help but think of anything else… and I was screaming inside. Screaming. I wanted to run up to my teacher eagerly, like a kindergartener might during ‘show and tell’.
I wanted to do just that, ‘show and tell’ her because my heart was crying for help. Behind my legs were layers of bruised tissue. It hurt so badly to stay seated, but I did not tell my teacher because I was ashamed and terrified, and because time was money.
Inside, I was mess of mixed emotions. Desperately I tried to bring logic and sense to my confused, guilty, crying, hurting self. I was looking to be saved and I didn’t need my professor or anyone else to get involved. In fact, I convinced myself to think that HE-my lover, could save me and that I could do the same for him.
“What happened last night is most definitely a one time thing. He won’t ever put his hands on me again—he was just really drunk, and angry that I had embarrassed him in front of his friends. We’ll get through this. All couples go through tough times.”
The night before it was snowing. Beautiful snow. My dad had dropped me off at the local ‘Sunday Funday’ spot that was my boyfriends’ second home. Scratch that, it was his first home. He went to that bar every Sunday for the last 4 years from 9 am to 2 am, rain or shine. It was his thing, his routine, a place where he could let loose with his friends. I knew this when I met him. In fact, I met him at that bar. All the flags were so brilliantly deceiving. My eyes were wrapped so tight and so mystically that I was blinded by red. I couldn’t see them because I didn’t want to see them, so I didn’t. Blowing in the wind behind me, I walked forward eyes shut, heart numb, ego destroyed. I walked on.
Entering the bar, I saw him macking on another girl. I saw her eyes. They had already been captivated by his powerful vampire-like skills to glamourize his next victim. Quickly, he broke his hypnotic predatory state and ran over to me, adorning my neck with tender kisses that wiped away anyone else’s lipstick that may have been there. I didn’t see lipstick or even care to find the evidence. I felt drugged and I liked it. The mother fucker glamoured me long ago.
Enamored by the seductive intoxication, I knew it was time for us to go home, to write the next few chapters of those kisses, and to finally drift off to sleep. I had school early, he had work, it was our routine…and it was time to leave.
At the sound of leaving, he grew childlike, threw a tantrum, and refused to leave the bar. I was angry that he wouldn’t keep his promise to cut the night short. I dragged his ass out of the bar—he left the tab open and unpaid but that was normal for him to neglect responsibility. I headed toward the truck looking back out of the corner of my eye and finally he followed. Only he was shadowed with rage and belligerence. And he wanted to drive.
“You fucking cunt, get in the front seat now! I’m fine and I’m DRIVING! Unlike you, you fucking whore, I know you were probably out fucking some other bloke.” “Absolutely insane, absurd….and what insecurity! This guy sucks.” I thought.
As level headed as possible I responded, “T. I’m not getting into this with you, you’re wasted and you disrespected me in there. You promised that we would leave within the hour. It’s already 2 and I have school at 8:30.”
“God you’re such a child- you are so irresponsible and immature. Grow the FUCK UP! You hate going to class anyways. You need to get more hours at work and contribute those monies to US!”
The truth shot out of my throat, “You mean contribute to your alcoholism?”
Sweeping across the car, his hand grabbed my arm…and squeezed. Harder. Harder. And even still. I was screaming, “What the FUCK!?!” and thinking all the while… “What a psycho. Why is he doing this to me?”
A minute later we pulled up to our apartment. He ran ahead of me, stumbling, and attempting to fit the key into the lock.
“Drunk-ass motherfucker. I hope this all ends here. I just want to go to bed.” I thought desperately.
He opened the door for himself and quickly shut it behind him. “SAY you’re sorry!”
“Excuse me?” I laughed to myself out of discomfort.
“YOU FUCKING CUNT TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY NOW, OR I WON’T LET YOU IN!”
Trembling, I shouted in attempt to reason with him. “Oh my God… it’s snowing outside, look at… I’m crying! Why are you doing this?”
He smirked at me with a stern glaze. God, he was handsome.
“Just end this and get inside” I thought. Just to appease him I said, “Baby, I’m sorry. Can we please just go to bed?”
He let me in, shot me a piercing look and ran up the stairs without care if I followed. But I did, hesitantly, and with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Inside, he was already naked and in bed. I didn’t want to touch him. So I went to the kitchen, guzzled down a glass of water, and then went to my side of the bed.
“Go to the fucking couch you dirty fucking cunt.” He started kicking me. He was a soccer player. He had no problem kicking with intensity as he’d been playing semi-professionally for nine years. Pretending my body was his black and white ball, I saw my body parts quickly starting to reflect the sport. Black and blue welts emerged from my olive skin.
“Holy shit. I need to fight back to survive.”
I grabbed at his hair, punched at his chest, and attempted to kick back. At 4’10, my stature didn’t match his 5’10 athletic build, let alone his adrenaline-backed rage. I was his ‘whipping boy’, his punching back, I was his Rhianna.
Ironically, we had seen Rhianna’s face all over the television only a few nights before. During the newscast, he announced how he “had ZERO tolerance let alone, ANY, respect for any man that put his hands on a woman”. Fucking hypocrite. I kept fighting, I had to.
He fought with me violently in silence for an hour. It was textbook. I was scared, and angry, and confused, and all I wanted was for him to hug me. Instead, I accepted his violence. When he was bored with kicking me, he picked me up from the bed and roughed me up further. I refused to leave the bed as it was equally mine and I was steadfast in my attempt to desperately fight for forgiveness and peace. He picked me up and dropped me three times onto the wooden boards that framed our mattress. Later on I would realize he did this with many girlfriends past.
My body lay limp like a rag doll and he picked me up only to drop me once more. I picked myself up and looked into his eyes, “Go ahead. Where do you want to hit me now?”
Picking me up yet again, he pinned me down to the bed, hands wrapped and strangling my neck. I was gasping for a breath. He let go, I quickly sucked the air in that I thought may be my last and then he held firm down on my chest. Instantly, I felt points where the bruises would surface. I heard a crack. Already frozen, I prayed for nothing to be broken. Thank God, it was just a joint in my neck that needed to be cracked back into place. He was still hovering over me with his hands strong upon my chest and we were both looking at each other. His eyes indicated to me that his mind was not right. That perhaps he didn’t get enough love as a child, or the wrong kind of love. He looked like a killer. He did not look human.
The next morning he left for work extra early. His friends of whom were also his co-workers, came to pick him up at 6 and I heard them all laughing in the kitchen about the debauchery they caused around town the day before. Dr. Jekyll came to kiss me goodbye while his friends waited in the other room. I knew what they were thinking because I’d heard rumors that they had thought poorly of me. They were convinced that I was a “controlling bitch” and that he was such a good boyfriend to me, perhaps even to the point of being “pussy whipped”. Little did they know, that Mr. Hyde was laying in bed with me only hours before. I wished I could have shown them the damage Hyde had done in his transformation.
As soon as he left, I thanked God and ran to the bathroom to observe my battle wounds. Behind my legs, thighs, and bum I was wrecked. Everything was welted and raised, and there were bruises the size of my entire thigh had already surfaced. My chest ached both inside and out. I felt so ashamed. How the fuck did I ever let this happen to me? ME? I was a strong girl, a respected individual. People loved me.
I rested my hand on my head. “FUCK!” The touch of my palm against my skull was excruciatingly painful. My entire head was bruised from violent hair pulling. I started to cry. I knew I was trapped.
Petrified, I went back to the bed where I had been beaten. I lay there with my head aching on the pillow and my tears confirming my pain.
“It’s my fault. He thought I was cheating, I shouldn’t have questioned him…I should have just told him that he was the only one. That I LOVED him. If he had truly felt MY love he wouldn’t have acted that way.”
To avoid putting pressure on my battered legs and head, I turned onto my stomach and let my cheek rest on the cool side of my pillow while my arm hung momentarily without fear beside the bed. I felt something underneath. A necklace. It wasn’t mine. The bastard was cheating on me.
Wow. Whatever, I blew it off as I had suspicions but chose to ignore them. I just wanted to make up and have happy moments like we did in previous days or so his blindfolds lead me to believe.
In my next class, I was tired and on edge. I was uncomfortably hot from the stuffy room and from the Northface I didn’t dare take off for fear of someone seeing the wounds inflicted during the night. I thought of my best friends, my mom, and my dad.
“-Should I tell them?
-They warned you he was destructive. They’ll judge you.
-No they won’t. They love you. You tell them everything.
-But I don’t want to put them through another heartache, another tragic circumstance that I allowed in my life.
-But, they only want the best for you, Candygirl.
-NOO! They’ll tell you to leave, but you know you can fix this. And, I don’t want to leave, I love this apartment. I love his deep poetry. I love how he cooks for me. I love his creativity. I love his depth. I love his body. I love how he grew up overseas, just like me. I love his dreams. I love him. He and I are meant to be together, he told you numerous times before. He needs your love.”
It was as though ‘the good and bad angel’ were sitting in class with me, positioned on each shoulder, whispering into both of my ears. I listened to them attentively, blocking out my world-renowned professor-slash-, lawyer-slash-, women’s advocate- slash-, feminist. Once upon a time I surrounded myself with strong people like her, and now I only had him. My admiration for her was clouded at this time; but I get it now, I was too busy justifying everything that had happened the night before. Distracted and trying to focus myself away from the pain that resided in my body, I sat still in chair N- 23.
The bell rang and I heard my professor announcing to the class one final reminder.
“Class we are about to go over cases that are pretty disturbing. As I said in class last time, if you feel uncomfortable with some of the pictures you are about to see, feel free to step outside.”
With that I remembered her precaution. Today’s class lecture focused on domestic violence. Still in a cloud, I dismissed the possibility that I may have been in that cycle. There was no way.
Feeling uneasy, I looked down at my silenced phone to find a new text on the screen.
Him: Baby Bella, you are my world. Last night was awful, it was not US. Let’s get married… I love you. I’ll be home in an hour, meet me there, I want to make things right. <3
Looking up from the message I saw images of beaten women beginning to flash on the overhead in front of me. Hardly giving the pictures of those bloody, battered, and bruised women a thought, I immediately excused myself from class. I excused myself from the rest of the days lectures, called in sick to work, and went on my way home where he said he was waiting for me with beautiful tulips in hand. He knew my favorite flower at the time. I was happy again.
As I began walking home from school I felt a sense of relief, liberation, love, hope, and faith, everything that I had prayed for with him after the rather strange ‘Sunday Funday’. One last thought entered my mind. Justifying my absence for the remainder of the day so that I could finally make amends with my lover I reminded myself, “Buddha is patient, he’ll wait for me even in class and I know I have a few sick days left, my boss will understand.”
I was in too much pain to be stuck in a chair for the rest of the day, anyway.
Candace Roberts has received two awards for this piece and was blessed with a trip from yoga instructor, Liz Arch after receiving 1st place in a writing competition regarding domestic violence in October 2012.
She resides in the Seattle area with her two beautiful children & adoring fiance, writes children’s books that focus on child development & coping between divided homes. She continues to raise her vibrancy through travels, meditation, good gluten-free food, love, and hugs.