Time Stood Still

TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC & SEXUAL VIOLENCE, RAPE

 

May 13, 2005
On a dingy bathroom floor in a house full of addicts, she waited. The test sat on the counter, scarce inches away, yet she couldn’t look. One… two… three minutes passed. It was now or never. Her hands shaking, she picked up her future, wrapped in a disguise of plastic and paper and urine. Positive. She closed her eyes, unsure if she was relieved or disappointed. Time stood still.

January 27, 2006
The hospital was crowded, as if everyone in a fifty mile radius had decided to give birth right then and there. A blur of lights and sleep and strange beeps and frantic calls and pain, oh the pain! She couldn’t quite remember how or why she had ended up in the operating room or why they wouldn’t let her hold her daughter right away or anything beyond the overwhelming agony that every second away from the child caused. A bundle was placed in her arms – The bluest eyes she’d ever seen, the blackest hair, the most perfect little mouth. The world melted away and she finally knew the meaning of her life.

July 15, 2006
She could smell the whiskey on his breath before he entered the room. Her heart beat faster as she clutched her baby closer. One foot out the window, easy does it, twist and turn and grab the ledge … – his hand wrapped around hers and in a single breath she was on the bedroom floor again. The baby bawled in his arms as he hurled accusation after accusation, stepping more firmly on her throat with every uttered syllable. Her life flashed before her eyes and in the moment before the stars became darkness, time stood still.

June 1, 2007
He stumbled in at 9am, drunk, though god knows he’d gone to work last night. She lay awake – eyes closed, breathing regular – hoping he’d think she was still asleep. Their daughter stirred; a heavenly coo from the cradle next to their bed. She jumped up to attend before his clumsy hands could reach the tiny being, but not before a slurred “Stunned cunt, let me sleep” escaped his lips as he collapsed into the pillows. When the darkness overcame him, she methodically packed her belongings and drove to the new apartment across town. Furniture would have to wait, but in that moment, her life started over.

December 17, 2011
The night was young, the music loud, the tequila flowing freely. Across the table, he winked and smiled and she had never felt so sexy. The bar closed, the after party started, and before she knew it, 3am had arrived and it was only the two of them awake. He kissed her, she kissed back, he reached up her skirt. She said no. He stopped. He tried again. The no became more urgent. He conceded and allowed her to drift into unconsciousness. She awoke long enough to kick him and roll over as he peeled her panties off, then returned to the nothingness she had been roused from. Seconds… minutes… ages later, her mind snapped out of the fog, feeling him inside her, momentum building, grunts of pleasure escaping his lips. Her body froze. Words caught in her throat. As he emptied himself into her, time stood still.

July 19, 2013
Eight hours of magic was coming to a close. She thought it was going well, but one could never quite tell with a first date. They placed a bet on the last bowling match – if he won, she had to say yes to a second date. She lost, albeit unintentionally, though she was far from disappointed at the prospect of more time in his company. He walked her to her car; she thanked him for a wonderful day. The sun was setting just behind him, a brilliant cascade of light gleaming over his left shoulder. He hugged her and she could feel the restless energy stirring within him. In a moment of impulsive desire, she pressed her lips to his and held on tightly as the rest of the world became irrelevant.

November 8, 2013
They lay in bed, her head on his chest, his arms protectively cocooning her. He kissed her goodnight, and just as he was dozing off, a timid whisper asked if he was still awake. Now alert, he asked her why. Seconds passed as she took a calming breath and responded with some off-pitch statement about needing to tell him something. With a hint of suspicion, he probed her intentions. Her heart beat faster as she attempted to gather her courage. “I love you,” she breathed, barely audible, as she buried her face in his neck. He gently lifted her chin, gazing into her eyes through the dark. “I love you,” he responded, kissing her tenderly as time stood still.

Well, That Was Terrifying

I’ve done a lot of scary things in the past week:

– talked to my doctor about my anxiety
– made an appointment to see a counselor
– told Jedi when I thought he wasn’t being fair to me

and, today, I quit my job. Well, gave my notice. My last day is the 15th.

And you know what? The first three things turned out alright.

Fingers crossed that the last one will, too.

Release.

It’s reached a point where I feel the need to share the deepest, darkest, most hated part of my soul. I need to confess my sin, bare my inadequacy, and eliminate the pretense.

I’m not perfect, no matter how much he tells me I am. He knows almost everything about me: my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my quirks, my loves and hates. But every time I go to tell him this one thing, I freeze. My lips stop working. My thoughts slow down and my heart speeds up. My mouth goes dry and I find myself changing the topic of conversation to avoid telling him.

I don’t know why I’m afraid.

He’s never been anything but understanding. He’s never given me a reason to think that he wouldn’t sympathise, or would judge me, or would look at me any different. But yet, I hesitate. I’m scared to say the words. I’m terrified to feel their prescence looming in the space between us whenever we’re together. I’m ashamed to see the look in his eyes when he processes the truth, and I’m worried that he’ll start to read into the nuances of my personality and my preferences, finding causation that isn’t accurate in the slightest.

How do you tell someone you were raped without it colouring the way they view you? There’s no way to go back from that point. What has been said cannot be unsaid. And so I hesitate.

I had hoped that before we’d reached this point, I would have found a way to tell him. But I didn’t. Or maybe I didn’t take the chances that were given. Either way, the conversation is still pending and my stomach drops in fear every time I realise that I’m getting close to revealing the truth. It’s like I know that everything between us will change once the statement has been made, and I haven’t yet decided if it will be a positive experience.

I don’t doubt that he will support me. The very depths of my soul tell me that there is nothing I could say to change his feelings for me. But letting go and admitting my brokenness is a step I’m afraid to take. And so I resist, waiting for the perfect moment to drop the bomb, knowing that the longer I wait, the more I will fight the urge and keep the secret buried deep inside.

Dangling my toes over the edge has never felt so perilous.

Six Years On

It’s been six years since I packed my things.
I promised to keep in touch
I swore I loved you
Told you I just needed a little space to remind myself
How good you were to me
And that once I had sorted out my shit
We’d be a family again.

Of all the lies I’ve ever told
That one stuck in my throat the hardest.
I knew I wasn’t coming back, and I think you knew it, too.
But you let me walk out without resistance
(which, knowing you, was remarkable)

I kept up the guise of working through our issues
Until I got a lawyer
And you finally figured out that I wasn’t coming back.
I’ve never been so scared.
The drive-bys, the phone calls, the thinly-veiled threats
Were almost worse than the bruises
At least, they were a lot less predictable.

Everyone seemed to think that since I was “free”
Everything was suddenly alright
My moral support vanished
I spent my nights alone, missing you
Though I knew I shouldn’t
And wishing it could have been some other way.

Looking back, I almost don’t recognise
The frightened young woman
Jumping at her own shadow and
Spooked at the smallest sound.

Six years have helped me ease some fears
Though the terror of losing our daughter remains
Threats etched in my memory are not easily erased.
But now
I don’t look over my shoulder constantly
Though I do still keep my doors locked
And I moved every three years so you couldn’t find me.
One day I hope to stop running
Settle down and really build my life
I’m putting down some roots and starting to blossom

But then a cold wind blows and I’m reminded
Of your chilly demeanour and soulless eyes
And no matter how much wood I put on the fire
I just can’t warm my bones.

© T. Kalau 2013

I Think I’m A Grown Up Now

It’s official : I’m in debt a quarter million dollars. Normally, being even $100 in debt would cause me to freak out. Not this time. Why?

I bought a house.

Yep, it’s official – I’m a homeowner. I take possession June 15th.

I’m a little scared, a lot excited, and really, really proud of myself.

It’s not every day that you see a single mom buy a house on her own, with no co-signer, before the age of 30. (Not to toot my own horn, but BEEP BEEP).

I never planned on this – I wanted to find a nice guy, get married, buy a house, have babies, and live happily ever after. I’ve finally reached the point where I am okay with having my baby and my house and living happily ever after on my own. It’s liberating to realise that everything about this house, this life… it’s all mine. No compromising. 100% how **I** want it.

I couldn’t be happier.

BUT.

Now I get to spend the next month packing and checking paint swatches and de-cluttering and cleaning and allllll that fun moving stuff. *groan*

It’s Not Easy.

It isn’t easy to love an addict.
It isn’t easy to hear the lies, to know that they’re lies, and to not be able to do a damn thing about it.
It isn’t easy to watch someone you love so hell-bent on self-destruction.
It isn’t easy to hear “I’m getting clean” again and again and to pray every. single. time. that this time, it’s for good.
It isn’t easy to have someone you love steal from you with seemingly no remorse.
It isn’t easy when they sober up temporarily and you see the shame in their eyes, see the weight of their sins dragging them back down into a vortex of self-medication and self-loathing.
It isn’t easy to see them desperately searching for the next $20, the next fix, the next party.
It isn’t easy to realise you can’t remember the last time they weren’t using.
It isn’t easy when you figure out that the only way to preserve yourself is to distance yourself from their battle, to support and love from afar, because getting too close hurts too much.
It isn’t easy to keep your distance, to stop loaning money, to stop enabling.
It isn’t easy not trying to fix the situation, to fix the addiction, to fix the person.
It isn’t easy to watch someone so young and promising throw their future away.
It isn’t easy to understand why they can’t “just” stop, can’t “just” get it together, can’t “just” get clean.
It isn’t easy to live each day of their sobriety along with them, fearing a relapse.
It isn’t easy. Not even in the slightest.
But an addict knowing that someone loves them no matter what… that’s what makes it worthwhile.

I’ve loved a lot of addicts. Some I’m still loving from afar. One helped make my child. Two I’ve known since they were born. One will hit 15 months clean this week. In fact, he’s the one I have to thank for introducing me to Macklemore’s “ Starting Over.” I’ve listened to this song probably 30 times since I first heard it last night. Every time, it gives me goosebumps and nearly brings me to tears.

The part that really sticks with me are the lines:

If I can be an example of getting sober
Then I can be an example of starting over.

Brother, I love you. I’m proud of you, of who you’ve become, and how far you have come in the past year and a bit. Never quit fighting because I know you can do this.

Survival.

Some days, when my past feels really hard to deal with, I remind myself that simply getting up and facing the world makes me stronger than I ever thought possible, and gives a giant middle finger to those who have tried to hold me down.

I am not the person I was then. For better, for worse, everything in my life has changed. And that’s okay.

One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. I will make it through. I will survive. I will thrive, despite my demons.

We’ve all been sorry
We’ve all been hurt
But how we survive is what makes us who we are.
– Rise Against