Some things, some things I believe in more than I've ever believed in them before. I think it might work this time, and so I'm holding out hope, just this one last time. She asked me, "Are you disappointed?" My reply was truth: I am not disappointed by this, I am not even shocked. In all honesty, it was only a matter of time. What will disappoint me? If I try to trust him a little bit again, and the words turn to ash in my mouth. What will disappoint me? If he says he will, and he won't.
A shred of my heart doesn't want to believe that he will. I believed once before, it seemed too good to be true. I am wiser this time. I am, perhaps, more scarred. Those things he did before, the violence, the fear, the unpredictability ... much as they shape exactly who I am on the inside, exactly how I respond when I am at my basest, when every single layer of defense is stripped away, they are not what hurt me the most, not even close. It was far later, when he said something I think, on an intellectual level, that he didn't mean, when he said it with pure malice in his voice. He forgot who he was speaking to.
I won't forget what I did, or what resulted. I won't forget how I threw things -- I don't throw things -- or how I screamed incomprehensibilities. I won't forget how I screamed, told to calm down, forced to clean up what I had strewn across the floor. I won't forget how he wasn't ashamed.
I know now, later, that he was shamed. Not a-shamed, necessarily, but shamed, by others, for what he said. I still don't know if he realizes what he did, despite a letter apologizing for the same. I know it crosses his mind and I know he can't feel good about it, but I wonder if it grips him in the pit of his gut, a hot, wet, bloody destruction, I wonder if it makes his heart thump and makes his chest tight and makes it so the tears blind him so that he cannot see.
I am better, I am always slowly getting better, but I feel like it's a healed injury that I will be rehabilitating unto the end of time. I am stretching this knotted muscle that never developed right, this atrophied ribbon of meat that makes me be. I feel like it will never end, like I will never not have days where I trip and my weakness means instead of righting myself I will forever fall on my teeth. I feel like my heart will always beat with a limp.
I can't even recover with anybody. They're gone and it's just me, and nobody who was there.
Maybe that's why I wait, until late in the night, until the dark. I refuse to turn the lights on, and I sob. My husband holds me and is concerned and sometimes I don't know what to say to him. It's as if my defenses dissolve with my strength, and at my weakest, that shredded muscle collapses, and I am prone, in the dirt. I cannot even explain why, and I fumble at words to try and express to him what is so overwhelming to me with words that are painfully inadequate.
He does what he can, and that hurts too. That tightens in my chest and makes me sob anew, and he asks why I am crying, and I still cannot say. I try to tell him, sometimes, when I'm not without my shields, and my chest still tightens and my voice still breaks and my eyes still water. He feels humbled, I think, when I say he is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I can't not cry when I say it. He grasps for words himself, and tries to tell me that it's no great thing. It's precisely that it is no great thing that it makes it so hard to say.
I remember where I was, and how I felt, and what was happening. I remember my whole world crashing down around me. I remember feeling as if I didn't have anything, except him, and my beloved best friend. If I didn't have them, I don't know that anything would have stopped me from trying to make the pain end, and I sob at how close I was.
How long did I spend trying to hide from it? I did what he did. I did what I hate, but without wanting to acknowledge it. It was still, only the hand of those that love me most that dragged me bodily out of the hole I tried to dig for myself. I am no great hero that overcame great obstacles; I did so very poorly and with huge mistakes. I sob for how much he loves me, and the fact that what I did and what I tried to do would have destroyed any ordinary relationship.
And now I am seeing the other side and trying to have compassion, trying to flex that part of me that will always be stunted and misshapen. I gave up. I gave up a long time ago. I gave up for my own survival and my own health. I gave up so that I could get away and take care of myself long enough to wake up from my nightmare, I gave up, and then I realized that I didn't have to feel the way I did. How do you un-give up? When you run like mad to shelter yourself from the danger, how do you know when it's safe to peek your head out again? When the sky stops falling and landing on your head?
He had his own wake up call, and I want very badly for it to stick. He didn't want to tell me, I could see it. He was ashamed.
I've been that person. I've been ashamed like that. I felt for him. That little throb of compassion. I know that. I am that person. I know him. I can see him punishing himself inside his head more fervently and angrily than I ever could. I couldn't heap punishment on top of that. I've had punishment heaped on top of that. It's soul crushing and gut wrenching and makes you feel worthless and self-destructive. I needed him to feel like it was something that was worth doing, not something that he should give up on because he'll only fail at it anyway.
I couldn't run up and give him my undying love, I couldn't thank him and I couldn't forgive him. I couldn't even be hopeful. It was far too early for all of that, yet.
All I could do was tell him that the only apologizing I wanted was to see him prove it by changing, and that that was an apology I would accept.
I expect it'll be a long time I'll forgive him for this new transgression. And it sounds mean and cold and cruel to say it, but I will say it anyway.
Knowing that he had the capacity in him for shame, still, knowing that he took what he has done, all that he has done, seriously enough to make a concerted effort to try and repair it, knowing that he didn't want to admit it even to me, lowly little me, who took years to learn that I was not some kind of subhuman larval parasite? It felt good. Like he may mean it this time. Like it may really, really, really happen.
I don't want to hope. I so hate to be disappointed, and I am so very, very afraid of being disappointed.
But it kind of feels good to.