This is a very personal post that I’ve been considering sharing for about a year.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Twenty years ago today I married a man who turned out to be abusive. There were red flags before I married him but I was very young, just twenty years old when we wed, and I believed his apologies and excuses. I also didn’t see control and emotional and verbal abuse for what it was and thought because he’d “only” hit me a few times and had stopped, that everything was ok. I was wrong. Our marriage was dominated by various forms of violence that would fluctuate.
I found the strength to leave a few months before our 9th wedding anniversary. By that point we had a four-year-old son that this mama bear needed to protect.
A number of years ago I wrote this short story about that time. In honour of spreading awareness and to remind people that they can leave even after many years, I am sharing it today. I’m terrified and am shaking as I write this but I know it’s the right thing to do.
The Dark Mirror
I’m ready. I’m wearing the ivory embroidered gown covered in lace and sparkling details, with a long train that flows out behind me like a royal robe. A tiara glitters in the mirror and a full length, white veil covers my perfectly made up face and my curled hair that cascades down my back like a waterfall. As I gaze at my reflection feeling excited about the promises I’m about to make and the life ahead something strange happens; the girl looking back begins to change. She still looks like me with the same blue eyes and auburn hair, but something is different. There is a sadness in her eyes and through them I can see her head and heart are full of harrowing memories and broken dreams. I can see the pain, heartbreak and sorrow. Reflected in them I see the movie of her life start to play : the love and joy following solemn vows, then the anger in his voice, the plates smashing, the girl cowering in fear of his wrath, the jekyll and hyde of his character as he’s loving and adoring one moment, hateful and vicious the next. I see the anguish as she dreams of leaving but still loves him and wants to stay. I glimpse her heart breaking into a thousand pieces as he smashes up the house and tells her she’s worthless, that the child they will have is better without her and she should be dead. I feel her longing for release so greatly that death seems favourable. She is destroyed from the inside. He’s taken away who she is and what she knows to be true piece by piece until she is nothing but a hollow shell. He’s destroyed her and thinks he’s won. That she is his and will do as he dictates forever. But he’s wrong. Deep down the fire in her is still there and she claws and fights her way back to the surface and she begins to stand up and be counted. Initially she suffers all the more for doing so. I see the hell she calls home until she can finally take no more and packing a few belongings and clutching the small boy’s hand, she flees, leaving the nightmare and all the broken promises and dreams behind. The vision has me fighting back tears, at all the woman has been through and because I know this is my future. I know she’s showing me what my happy ever after will become. I look away, not wanting to see anymore. When I look back she is gone and all that’s left is a discoloured white veil lying discarded on the floor.