Your past is just a story. Once you realize this, it has no power over you.
Much of this journey has required looking back on and, at points, reliving experiences in my life that were, perhaps, best left forgotten. I won’t lie, this has been very difficult at times. Overall, however, it has been a wonderful experience. I have found that I now see my past as a story. It no longer has the same effect it once had on me. The difficult times come from reliving a painful experience. But, in writing them out I am letting them go. I put my all into each passage and then leave them at the computer. It is a beautiful growing experience, which has left me happier with my past than I’ve ever been.
This passage, from the book version of forget me not, in particular, really affected me. It was the first time I remembered truly not caring about him or what happened to him. It was one of many turning points for me.
Shortly into summer, he escalated again. And, as it goes, it was far worse than in the past. I have absolutely no recollection as to what started it. Never would I have thought that it could get worse than when he aimed the gun at me, but it did. This time, even I could see how much I resembled the woman in the that, all telling, poster on domestic violence. As I sat in a crumpled mess on the floor, my inner voice screamed at me to understand.
“You are that woman! How long are you going to excuse his behavior and admit you are a battered wife? How long? He is going to kill you. Sooner or later you will die while you are making excuses for why you should stay.” While my rational voice tried to reason with me, I just kept asking why. “Why was this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?”
The moments are so vivid that I can see them like a movie in my mind. Feelings that are so real that it is like I am there. They are all encompassing; the kind that still make my stomach turn almost eight years later. Replaying these memories makes me want to reach back and pull out my former self. I want to convince her that it is ok to leave. No one deserves that kind of treatment and she will be fine. She will be happy! I wish I could go back in time, comfort her, and guide her out of her misery. But, I can’t. My life with him was real, it cannot be altered, and it forever changed me.
That night, I remember him yelling. It wasn’t his normal yelling, it was crazy yelling. I was terrified over what he would do next. In ten years of marriage, I had never seen this man. Glimpses of him, yes, but not to this magnitude. I was fighting to stay in control of myself, but he just kept escalating. He was shoving me and I was stumbling back. As soon as I would gain my balance he would shove me again, get as close as he could and yell in tones that made my skin crawl. Then I was in the corner, between the nightstand and the wall, screaming for him to stop as he smacked me in the head and started kicking at my arms and legs. He just kept hitting me; kicks to my side, smacks to my head, down in my face calling me a bitch and cunt. It went on for what seemed like forever as I curled into a ball of protection crying and trying to protect myself from whatever would come next. One final shove and he stomped out of the room, leaving me shaking and sobbing on the floor.
What happened next was beyond my comprehension. It was like he was looking for every conceivable way to hurt me; both physically and emotionally. I could hear him screaming about how he should have never married me and how he hated looking at that picture. The picture he was referring to was a picture from our wedding; one where we are both laughing at his brother’s prank as we walked down the aisle. He is visibly laughing with that cardboard heart and fork, that had “DONE” scribble across it, stuck to his tuxedo. My head is thrown back and my smile is vibrant with laughter. It was the happiest picture I had from our marriage. It hung prominently to remind me that we could be happy.
I scrambled to my feet, wiping the snot and tears from my face, and ran into the living room. I entered just in time to see him slam the picture into the marble floor. It shattered and my heart broke in two. But, that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to destroy it so there was nothing left. He bent down for it, mumbling obscenities.
“Leave it alone!” I screamed, and threw myself on top of it like it was my child. This is what I had become. A woman sobbing uncontrollably while trying to protect a picture that represented something that never was. There were no digital prints or extra copies. It was the one picture that I loved. I had ordered it special to hang in the house and he knew how much it meant to me. He grabbed at it trying to tear it out of my hands. He made sure to tell me exactly what he was going to do. He was going to rip it to shreds. I grabbed the frame as glass shards shifted and started a small scale, yet brutal, tug-of-war. Then he pushed back, swearing and grasping his hand, and I saw the blood dripping to the floor.
Writing has always been a release for me, and using it to let go of these toxic memories has also opened numerous doors. It has encouraged conversations, healed broken friendships, brought light to my behaviors, and allowed me to make peace. It has also brought others to me. Some have felt comfortable opening up to me and others have encouraged me in their own way. This is why I revisit my past; for the potential good it may bring to my future and the future of others.
We all have things in our past that are better off left in the past. The issue with this, however, is learning to do that in a healthy way. You cannot just walk away. At some point, you have to face the issues brought on by the negative and make peace with that. In the case of traumatic experiences, especially those that are ongoing for years, this is a long and tedious process that can take years of ups and downs. The upside is, when you find your way to happiness, where the past no longer tears you down, you have found freedom. You have found you. You have found peace.