October is a beautiful month. Cool autumn evenings meant for snuggling under warm blankets, bright red sunsets, amber leaves falling from tired trees. It’s my favorite month. Or rather it used to be my favorite month.
Last October, I went with you on a trip of a lifetime to Japan. I should edit that to say that it was the trip of a lifetime for me. You were already a world traveler and, while excited, from your behavior there, it didn’t seem like anything special to you.
On the flight home from Tokyo, you were so verbally abusive to me that a fellow passenger asked me if I was okay and would I be safe once we landed in Chicago. You did not know this because she waited until you got up to use the restroom to ask me. It was an urgent and quick conversation that ended with me saying that you were like this often and that I would be okay.
I did not believe my reply and I doubt she believed me either. But what could I do while flying over the mountains of Russia with the man who was supposed to love me in full on, hateful, rageful abuse?
When we landed, you talked excitedly about how wonderful the trip had been. It was absolutely surreal. Did you forget you had just yelled at me and ignored me for the entirety of a 14 hour flight? And that your BFFs Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde accompanied us throughout the entire trip?
I have a picture of you that I took at the ryokan we stayed at in Kyoto where you are lying on the floor facing away from me on the opposite side of the room, as far away from me that you could possibly be nearly hugging the damn wall. There we were, a million miles from home in this beautiful place, and you were ignorning me. For what offense? Being too happy? Smiling too brightly? I am a completely flawed human being but I didn’t deserve that.
I looked at you so hard and so long in that moment, ready to tell you that I would find a ride home and that this mess of a relationship was over. Why didn’t I? I was confused that maybe I was misunderstanding you. That I was doing things to incite your rage. I thought I loved you. And I was scared of you.
You have to understand that before I left, I told three people who I know and love the best that I was scared. (One of which had figured you out from nearly the very beginning and was also scared for me.) I told them that if something happened to me while I was in Japan or, for that matter, when I returned, that you had done it. Never before in my life had I thought it necessary to leave a trail of crumbs in the event I went missing or was found dead.
But I live. It’s a hard sort of life right now. I’m not sure when I am going to stop feeling like a fool for ever believing that any part of you was real. Or when I am going to stop feeling like I can’t breathe. Or when I am going to stop crying out of the blue. My job does not allow me the freedom to find a quiet place and collect myself. I am on hyper alert still, all these many months later.
Your abuse has messed with my ability to be productive and carefree for so long and in so many ways. No, I am not playing the victim. I am being real about abuse you deliberately inflicted upon me. I stood no chance against you.