X-Ray

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**Just thought I would note that this post does deal with the effects of domestic violence… Proceed with caution please!

Sitting here on this examination table, waiting to see what the cause of the pain is and my bones are on display against this lit up board. The doc tells me I have some interesting defects. He points to the slide of my right arm. There’s some dark spots there. See that dark line there? That’s where your arm was fractured at some point but I can tell by the way it’s set itself that you never had it corrected. My eyes veer down to my bare toes and I make a game out of seeing how hard I can squeeze my left big toe with my right one and the toe next to it. I think back on the time he picked me up in the kitchen by my hair and threw me down into the bedroom, onto the thinly carpeted, concrete floor. I remember the pain that radiated throughout my arm and how that arm was useless for months afterwards. I basically became a lefty for that time period. And here, on your chest. There’s a small spot where it looks as though your breastbone suffered some trauma at some point. He waits quietly for an explanation, but I have none to give. I tune him out and hum as quietly as I can, a defensive coping mechanism I’ve learned over the years to block out the unpleasantness. It was a punch to the chest, of course. Or maybe it was the kick. And it looks like at least one of the fingers on your right hand, your ring finger, possibly your middle finger, were fractured at some point. I don’t even remember why that injury happened, only that at the time I thought that my fingers were going to be ripped off. He flips through some papers on his clipboard and I catch the words “internal injuries” and I wonder what he found inside of me. Can he tell how when winter hits my arm will be constantly throbbing as a result of the old fracture? Can he tell that all of the pain in my chest from all of the punches and kicks were nothing compared to the pain of the broken heart I lived with for so long? Can he see my shattered self-confidence after years of being told I am nothing, will never be anything? Can he see my self-loathing after having been told time after time that I am worthless, unlovable, unintelligent, lazy? And what about the anxiety I have over being in public while attempting to do the most normal things a wife and mother should be able to do- paying bills, grocery shopping, working, picking the children up from school? Can he see these things as well? Can he see the nightmares that jolt me awake in bed at two in the morning, sweating, my heart feeling as though it’s about to explode from my chest, the terror at the feeling of those hazel eyes from my past on me in the darkness? Can he see the urges I get to run and hide behind my writing when it all becomes too much? The way he looks at me while he fiddles with his clipboard almost makes me think he does even though those slides show nothing except what is there just beneath the surface.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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Sitting on this couch, half amused, half disgusted, a lot less hurt than I think I should feel, I survey the situation with incredulity. How the hell did I get to this point? I tell myself the answer is at the bottom of that bottle, but I’ve never been one to appreciate dark liquors so instead I hold shot after shot in my mouth and spit it back into my chaser. I watch my two other drinking partners become lit, their tanned cheeks tinged pink, their eyes slowly losing their focus. The woman is attempting to make her way to the bathroom and is walking in a slanted line. The man is absorbed in whatever is on the screen of his computer. Talking to yet another woman, I’m sure. I want to laugh aloud but I think they both think I am just as inebriated as they are so I hold it in. After all, it could be detrimental to my health to laugh when no one else is.

I cannot understand how I have ended up in this position. I used to be such a good person. I worked eight, nine, ten, twelve hours a day. I paid my taxes. I went to church. I helped out friends even when it probably wasn’t morally right to do so. I had a big heart.

Yet here I am, sitting cross-legged on this couch, praying that these two find themselves laying in a pool of bloody vomit after an irreversible case of alcohol poisoning. How did it ever come to this?

I used to love him. I used to write to him every day when he was in prison and before that I used to take care of him. When he lost his son, I would come over and do the pile of dishes that had steadily built up over the week. I would take his laundry back to my parent’s house and wash it to save him a trip to the laundry mat. I used to go and pay his bills for him, with his money, not mine.

I used to love nature. In my hometown there was a park less than five minutes from where I used to live. I would go down there and sit on top of a park table, writing, sometimes drawing, watching the ducks and geese searching for food. Sometimes I would bring bread to feed them. The water wasn’t all that clean. Barges used to dump oil into it, it’s a miracle the birds and ducks could skim that water, but they did. I can’t remember the last time I saw any type of nature other than the stupid Toyota that he has parked in the backyard because he’s too selfish to get the tags and insurance renewed. Instead, he’s bought himself a new computer monitor and custom made tower including six fans, complete with a new chair so he can message whomever has caught his attention this week.

I used to make ungodly amounts of money, ungodless amounts to me at least. I used to spend it on clothes and shoes and clubs and drinks. I used to spend it on my son and books and journals and pens. An endless amount of pens. Sitting on this couch next to this dumb, drunk broad I think of all the times that I’ve had to scrounge together some change leftover from grocery shopping just to buy necessities- things most people take for granted. And forget finding a pen, these days I’m too afraid to write anything too personal before I pay the consequences later.

Little do I know at the time, this woman and I, we will soon be family. In a sense. In this time period, I’ve had more bruises and broken bones than I have written words. I’ve had more nightmares than I have had dreams. I’ve had more warrants out for my arrest for unpaid moving violations than I have received recognition at my job- both over a five year time period.

I watch her for a moment and then stare down at this half-filled shotglass in my hand and tell myself that if I would just give in and swallow down the drink I could let go of all of the pain and self-loathing and confusion and hatred and worry and fear I have been allowing to control me for too long. I could be free for even a short period of time. I fill my mouth with the amber liquid and hold it for a moment before tipping the cup with the mix of chaser and whiskey shots and letting another shot mix in with it.

 

Thunderstorm

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Lying in bed with the blankets over my head, my hands pressed over my ears and it does no good because the booming of the thunder vibrates straight through to my bones. The room lights up as the lightning crashes and I squeeze my eyes shut as tightly as I can. I hate it when the weather is like this, bad things happen when the thunder sounds and no one can hear you scream. But this isn’t then, and there’s nothing out there. That’s what I tell myself anyways.

I hum quietly to myself and with my hands still pressed tightly against my ears all I hear is the tune I’m using as a distraction. I don’t even know what I’m humming and it doesn’t really matter so long as I have something else to listen to. Outside the lightning sets the sky ablaze and I can see the flash behind my closed eyelids, underneath my blanket. I could just go hide in the closet but I’m an adult and the children are sound asleep. If they can sleep through this then I can endure it while I’m awake.

He lays in bed next to me and tries to comfort me, wrapping his arms around me and running his fingers through my hair but I cannot help the tears that start to well up. I should be able to handle this, it’s just an act of nature. Thunder and lightning can’t hurt me and those bad things that happened in the past are just that- in the past.

Thunder cracks through the sky, a bolt of lightning hits seemingly right outside the window, closer than comfortable for me and the power goes out. By this time I am shaking in terror because bad things happen in the dark. Terrifyingly, horrible, life-altering things. Things that leave mental, emotional and physical scars and no one can hear you scream over the thunder. I try to steady my breathing and count down from a million while all around me the storm rages on.

Replay

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Lying in bed, thinking I must be tossing and turning but knowing I am probably paralyzed from fear, behind my closed lids I know what is about to happen next. Sometimes the faces are different but the heartache is not and something in my mind screams at me to wake up. I repeat his name over and over hoping that one of these times I will somehow let the word slip through my lips in my sleep, that I will say it loudly enough to wake him so that he might wake me but it never happens. Once again, there’s his face, smirking and uncaring, his eyes as cold as a fresh snow and my heart starts to clench, I know it’s about to shatter into a thousand pieces because I’ve had this nightmare before, too many times before. I want to wake up. Heart pounding, broken out in a cold sweat, it feels like something is squeezing the breath out of me, I know what happens next and I cannot relive it. It’s been so long since the last time, I thought my mind had forgotten, had let this nightmare go. Yet here he is, his eyes so accusing and hateful yet uncaring at the same time and he says the words I fear to hear from him and I cannot wake myself, just like every other time I’ve had this dream. I cannot wake myself and I must let the nightmare run it’s course. And after it’s over and my pillow is soaked with tears, this puppy climbs on my chest and licks the tears from my face and I remember that I am loved. She stays there on my chest throughout the rest of the night, watchful, and I tell myself this nightmarish pattern has been broken because I didn’t have her before, she wasn’t there before to remind me of the the truth.

Onyx

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Onyx eyes watching dark happenings, in the darkness of course. Onyx eyes so hard to read, all the while they’re trying to get a reaction, trying to gauge what’s happening in that mind. A smile that doesn’t seem to reach those orbits, those swirling galaxies of mystery.

I hate watching their eyes watching mine. It’s painful to watch their eyes darting back and forth between mine, waiting. Observing. Hoping.

Be thankful I can still look you in the eyes after it all.

Be thankful my eyes are onyx and not the clear blue of the waters I love so much.

So clear that you would see everything I’m truly feeling.

Heavenly Hellish

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Tender fingertips reach out to draw him near. Soft lips caressing his cheek. Everything in me submits to him.

Jagged claws and bared teeth, a low growl when he gets too close. Seeking solitude I try to hide, but it seems he’s always near. Feeling cornered, I am ready to pounce.

Delicate kisses and whispered affection, fingers gliding softly on silky skin. My hair a halo against our pillows. My eyes watch him as though in a dream.

Blood red nails tear gashes down his back. Teeth clamping into his shoulder. Fingers tangle in a mass of wavy, brown hair as I remind him that all of him is mine.

Heart opening up to let him see the brokenness. Allowing him to mend me piece by piece. Allowing us both to learn to trust again, showing him everything I am.

Walls slamming down with angry permanence. The woman he knew yesterday a faint memory. I know he’s used to the two sides of me. How heavenly hellish it must be to love me.

Facade

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Endless days behind this shield, feeling the sweat beads rolling down my cheeks, or are those tears? Face done up with pretty bronzes and plums, smoldering eyes lined in black, black that slides off in streams but you wouldn’t know it. Full pink lips outlined with a warm brown tone that laugh and joke but make you wonder what I would say if I told you something real. Deep brown eyes a mystery, a thousand questions unanswered, a million horrors seen. I’ll morse code you a response with my eyes because my lips are too tired to speak.