To the Man Who Broke Me

I saw you.

Leaving the football field after a Sunday afternoon game, you were leaning into the back of a Jeep,

you still drive a Jeep

putting something in the back. I didn’t see what it was. All I saw were your eyes under the ball cap. The eyes that met mine for only a few seconds when you did a double take. Did you recognize me? Or did you just think I was pretty?

you did twenty five years ago

I knew it was you. It is very hard to forget the eyes of the man I once thought was the love of my life

you broke me

and ended up being the person I feared most in this world.

I don’t remember when the switch flipped and you started saying the most vile things to me, or the first time you hit me. I hated lying to people about the bruises, especially my own parents,

did they believe I really hit myself in the eye with the car door

but I did. Every time.

We should never have started drinking again. Life was good when we were sober. But then we were never sober and life was bad.

so very bad

I don’t know why you didn’t trust me. I don’t understand why you acted as if you hated me.

I loved you

Do you remember slamming my head into the dashboard,

I do

driving down the highway like a mad man, threatening to beat the shit out of me when we got home because it was what I deserved?

Do you remember screaming at me, so close to my face the hate in your spit burning my skin?

I do

Do you remember the day I left you?

I do

And still we continued with the insanity of coming and going, drinking and drugging, loving and leaving, both of us inflicting pain on one another, vengeful and sick. Until the day came when the papers were signed

the damage was done

and I was broken. I stayed broken for five years.

that felt like eternity

Did you recognize me?

I hope so

Did you see that I survived?

I thrived

The man walking next to me across the lot? He is the love of my life. He found me

and I found him

and taught me that love doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t leave bruises and it doesn’t bring shame.

this is what I deserve

These children walking with us? Yes, they are ours and they bring light to my life every single day.

no more darkness

As I stood at the open car door I looked up one last time and know I was not the only one broken.

I forgive you.


photo credit: Broken Heart via photopin (license)

Gaslighting Selena

Having a twelve year old daughter I am exposed to, willingly or not, much of the new music out today. Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, MeghanTrainor, Five Second of Summer, One Direction and, because once in a great while a bone is thrown, Maroon 5.

Just to name a few.

One of her favorite artists is Selena Gomez. I remember in years past watching this adorable girl in Wizards of Waverly Place, smart-mouthing and trouble-making her way into our hearts. She was growing up beautifully and readying herself to take the world by storm as some of Disney’s darlings manage to do. She was even doing it with her tongue in her mouth and all of her clothes on, never once sticking her hind end into a married man’s crotch.

I digress.

Aside from Spring Breakers, young Selena seemed to be making good choices.

Enter Justin Bieber.

In November, my darling girl and I sat watching the American Music Awards and listening to all of the music she loves and most of which I can barely comprehend. Just before a break we caught a glimpse of Selena backstage preparing for her performance.  She would debut her newly dropped single ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants’.

The young beauty took the stage barefoot and wearing Armani. Before the song started there was an audio piece that played which is apparently the prelude to the song. I could barely hear it but have heard it since and I can’t help but feel like crying just reading these words now:

When I was on stage and I was thinking of … I know him though, and I know that I know his heart, and I know what he wouldn’t do to hurt me.But I didn’t realize that I’m feeling so confident and feeling so great about myself and then it [can] just be completely shattered by one thing … by something so stupid. But then you make me feel crazy, you make me feel like it’s my fault. I was in pain.

The song’s melody is lovely but its words are heartbreaking. One string of lyrics immediately caught my attention and I knew who this young woman was singing about. This was no celebrity standing there emotionally choking out her newest single.

I know I’m acting a bit crazy
Strung out, a little bit hazy
Hand over heart, I’m praying
That I’m gonna make it out alive.

This was just a girl, heart broken by a boy, trying to make sense of the mess she was in. In pain and blaming herself with no understanding as to why. She is also very clear in stating that she will not listen to anyone’s advice because, well, the heart wants what it wants. Sanity be damned.

Save your advice ’cause I won’t hear
You might be right but I don’t care
There’s a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants

The first thought that came to mind as a former victim of domestic abuse was gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic used to twist a victim’s reality, make them question their own actions, their own perception of events often leaving them mentally disoriented and their sanity stretched. It is known to be exercised by unfaithful or abusive spouses and sociopaths.

And apparently Justin Bieber.

You got me scattered in pieces
Shining like stars and screaming
Lightening me up like Venus
But then you disappear and make me wait
And every second’s like torture

It took me a few plays and finally looking up the lyrics on the internet to realize that the situation Selena sings about is an all too common occurrence and a nightmare for me as a parent and domestic abuse survivor. My daughter was playing this song on repeat for days.

Did she understand the words and the meaning behind them or is she just listening to a song by an artist that she loves?

Will she remember these words in a future relationship should a partner, God forbid and God help him, make her feel this way?

Am I doing all I can to make sure she has the ability to trust her own good judgment to keep this from ever happening to her?

Will she…….?

Am I……?

Is she…….?

I hope and I pray. But only time will tell.

Why am I so affected by these dark words sung by a pop princess?

As I mentioned, I have suffered this abuse at the hands of more than one significant other. As an addict and alcoholic I was always swimming in a cesspool of low self- esteem and had a special gift for attaching myself to the most charming of liars and manipulators.

I found myself constantly second guessing myself, remembering the intelligent, sensible person I once was and wondering what happened to change all of it. I made excuses for my abusers’ behavior and apologized at every turn for every move I made. At times I found myself completely dependent emotionally and financially on an abuser. I felt helpless and hopeless.

It has been quite some time and I made it out but I can tell you that it is a wound that can still be torn open and the blood of memory can still seep through.  It is hell to have to live through and recover from.

Domestic violence is alive and well in all walks of life and we are getting to see it played out day after day in the media. Physical abuse is sickening to watch but it’s not a party to watch a young girl come apart mentally on stage either. This is simply one example. Imagine, if you can, these same situations that we are not seeing or hearing about.

It is far, far too many.

The bed’s getting cold and you’re not here
The future that we hold is so unclear
But I’m not alive until you call
And I’ll bet the odds against it all

To Selena I say thank you…for the beautiful performance at the AMAs.  I also say to her, and to all of those who feel her words on their heart….

Walk away while you still can.

If you still can.