You can read Parts One, Two, and Three before this, however it isn’t necessary.
There are no words to describe the never-ending pain of abuse. It isn’t the single action or the days or weeks or months that follow that impede on the victim. It’s an entire lifetime. Every future action or reaction taken is a direct result of that one moment in that person’s history. As I write, I sit here teary-eyed, red-nosed, and quite out of sorts. I just finished watching the last episode of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. It’s a new HBO mini-series that takes the book written by the late Michelle McNamara, author of True Crime Diary, and gives it a visual story.
The book itself is a masterpiece. Finished and published posthumously, the book discusses her life and her research into the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker, who she dubbed the Golden State Killer. Two months after the publication of her book, Joseph DeAngelo was arrested for at least 13 murders, more than 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California between 1973 and 1986. Michelle’s story brings to life the victims, both those who left this world and those who had to continue in the haze of post-traumatic stress.
My current state was a direct result of hearing the lives affected by this man so many years ago. The survivors of the rapes, the families of the murdered, the niece and nephew of the monster who forever changed the lives of those he attacked. It pulled my heartstrings. On the counter, my best friend and soul twin didn’t have quite the same reaction. As sympathetic as she was to the plight of these people, she stayed dry-eyed. Why then was I, the stone-faced, affected so much more than she?
The hypothesis is my own personal history of abuse.
Abuse isn’t something you come into a ‘Love Story’ and think to hear about. In fact, it’s the opposite of how a love story is defined. The cold hard truth is that it isn’t that separated. Part one of my love story reflects on the red-haired boy and my immediate fascination and ultimately my love for him. But the sweet, teenage, puppy love isn’t the only thing that came from him.
The red-haired boy has been a constant in my life since I was fourteen. Sixteen years later and I can still say that within the last year I’ve had contact with him even though over this second half of my life I have come to terms with all the horrible, manipulative things he did to me that have shaped all my future relationships and my personal views of myself.
From the time I was eleven-years-old, until around twenty-one I avidly wrote in a journal to house all my secrets. I came from a family where sharing pain was responded to with “Get over it” or “suck it up, buttercup.” So, the pages of journals were my therapist. And I wrote everything. Including the red-haired boy. He was one of the main characters, in fact. There were hardly pages where he wasn’t present.
His presence in my life and his…demands…on my being have been an underlying knowledge I have had, but it wasn’t until I decided to read through these old journals that I really knew the extent. Coercion into sexual relations when my family wasn’t home, manipulation to complete tasks then admonishing me with “not good enough,” a never-ending barrage of yo-yoing of my emotions. “I still love you,” “I love you more than her,” “I never stop thinking of you.” So many phrases that every woman, no matter her age, wants to hear. So many lies from his lips that pulled my love depraved heart back into his web.
This spider of a man and what he’d done to me seeps into my future relationships. That with my ex-husband. That with my current partner. That with any future partners I may have.
Abuse isn’t always forthright either. My marriage ended shortly after I started to grow into a strong, independent person. It ended shortly after a four-month separation due to a work assignment. It ended shortly after evolving into an ethically non-monogamous couple. None of which was the cause. The cause was a repeating practice on my ex-husband’s end that until I was more emotionally and mentally secure, I didn’t recognize as what it was. Abuse.
Consent and boundaries are of huge importance to me. I remember the first time it occurred and wanting so badly to put a distance between us, but the fog outside was too thick to drive through. Curled up in our bed, he’d proposed sex, but even after dismissing the idea, he pushed. He pushed to the point where I nearly disregarded my safety and drove with the inability to see more than 100 feet in front of me. I returned to a crying, sniveling man who profusely apologized.
But his actions weren’t limited to that one encounter.
We shared a bed for eight years and over that time he continually pushed sex on my unwanting being. He did it so often, I gave up. I left him have his five minutes of thrusting his member inside of me and rolled over, so happy he was finished and feeling so incredibly disgusting that I had let him use me.
Then, there was the final time. The straw, if you will, that broke the dam that held all the emotions from every abusive encounter for the previous seven years. Knocked out by sleeping medication in my hotel bed in Chicago, he laid next to me prodding his grubby fingers at my nethers trying to produce a moistness enough for his erection to invade me again. I woke to pain. I don’t know how long he irritated me with his dry hands, but long enough to induce a pain that woke me from a drug-induced sleep. Whatever words I shouted at him, I can’t remember, but he stopped touching me. He left the bed. I fell back asleep.
When I woke, he was on the floor in the bathroom. I could see his feet from the bed. It hurt to climb from the bed to check on the health of my spouse. He was fine. In a fit of tears, but fine none-the-less. I would be in pain for at least two days.
I sent him home two days before his original departure date. This event ended our marriage.
I tell myself that I’m recovered, I’m happy, it doesn’t bother me. He was a good man who did a bad thing. But the trauma is still there hovering beneath the surface just waiting for the right trigger to peel the wrapping back and reveal the disgusting truth. The pain subsides and the tears dry and you move on, but it’s still there, just waiting. Just waiting for the next reason to flare up and remind you that you are not completely healed.
This is the first I’ve openly discussed this outside of my close-knit community of people. This is the first time I’ve put this into a readable format. I sit here, knowing that the pain I suffer is nowhere near the pain suffered by those victims of the Golden State Killer, but I cry at their stories and at their attempts to normalize life again, and wish them, wish all of us, a closure that may never come.