Blood and Water

Dear Bec

I am so proud of you for standing up for yourself. I know you have it in you to not let people run you over. So keep up the good work. You deserve all that is good in the world. Stay in touch I love you more then you will ever know. You are just like one of my own kids I think about you all the time. Let no horses or person run you over. You have the strength of a bull and thats what I love about you.

With all my love and Kisses

Ruth

She chose me first in the seventh grade when her exuberant daughter brought me home at lunch. She chose me again when I was 15 and left a hysterical voicemail from 400 miles away. Do you need to come home? And I did, on a Greyhound right before Christmas, into her home where I slept fitfully with nightmares of isolated islands for months. I slept in her daughter’s bed, listening to the wind and her breathing and Pink Floyd. She reminded me I was worth something, unrequited. That love is imperfect and hard.

This is all relevant. During this time, and after, for longer than I care to admit, I remained embroiled in a deeply abusive relationship. Not physically, but mentally. Combine a 16 year olds decision making capabilties with some rocky family times, mental health issues and a shitty boyfriend and you are bound for bad times.

 

Luckily, I can barely remember how.low the bad times were. Hysterical crying and profuse apologizing for what were in retrospect insignificant incidences. Being cheated on and lied to again and again and again. The way sociopaths lie is pretty special- layers of lies, turning them around on you, lack of remorse. I can barely remember the absolute lack of self worth and confidence, the feeling of guilt and shame and loathing. The first stirrings of anger, quickly supressed by a master manipulator. Shame over my own reactions to the abuse, framed as evidence of my own shortcomings and shitty personality traits.

This STILL affects me. I disassociate so that I can’t be touched. Constant stress and walking on egg shells has me avoidant of contact. My ability to participate in a relationship in a meaningful way is damaged in a way that only a very expensive therapist can repair. Emotionally, I am still under the weather. The collapse of subsequent relationships can be traced directly back to one person who systematically unbuilt me, piece at a time.

 

I have mostly forgotten and the impact is present in ways I no longer directly ascribe to him. I met up with an old high school acquaintance the other day. I am single and free and fiercely independent and so badly in need of love, in want of love, but unwilling to need somebody, which practically seems to be a precursor to dating. The in, the solidifying factor from casual to real- need. I have driven cross country with my friends from my second bush season and life is more or less good. We sit in the bar with a familiar stranger, a face I know from ten years ago, and he tells me we were never really friends because my ex would tell everyone terrible things about me. Meanwhile, he told me I wasn’t allowed to go to Toronto for the weekend because he was fucking someone there and I couldn’t be there. My social circle left and returned together. I remained alone. The littany of offences is too great to count or remember and I am healing, but hearing that ripped the wound open and threw me asunder.

Missed possibilities, the what-if of how things in my life may have panned out had I not been horrifically emotionally abused for 5 formative years of my life, the fact that now, as a 26 year old, I am building my first real friend group, less a few stragglers picked up ovee the years. A failed relationship in my early 20’s, destroyed by my own inability to emotionally cope with anything, fear of abandonment, dissaasociation. I have a reputation as a bitch, forceful and outspoken,  a concept as alien and uncomfortable as getting over the denial that I was, indeed, abused.

I am strong. And soft and yielding, yet. There’s still time to find the mid ground, not being walked upon but willing to accept the possibility of hurt, of betrayal. The possibility of blood drawn and spilt, but the possibility too of finding the family blood forgot, those misfits and rag tag gypsies and somebody who knows the belligerence is a drawn out joke gone too far. Warm salt water on our cheeks- I’ll drive until I hit water and back again, ocean to ocean for a year, looking for wherever I left myself.

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