The First Time He Laid His Hands On Me
Why do we have repressed memories? According to Sigmund Freud, the brain forgets or blocks the memory as a protective mechanism when certain experiences become too traumatic. For me, it was the only way to function in daily life. I recently found that these blocked memories were coming back to me. I didn’t understand why, since I am at a point in my life where I’m starting to heal. I know I’m not the best writer—my abuser let me know, loud and clear—but I have found that writing has been a great outlet for me to heal from these terrible memories that have crawled back to my life.
As I mentioned earlier, the abuse started with heated verbal arguments. I’ve never spoken to anyone about these incidents in detail. I figured all marriages weren’t perfect… at least that’s what I heard all the time from friends and family.
It was March 2015. We were barely married a year and a half. I scored this gig working art department for the TV show, The Bachelorette. I was stoked because I felt my college education was finally being put to use. It was a rough week at work. One night, a few work friends and I decided to grab some drinks after work. I invited my abuser to meet us there. After a few drinks and a few shots, I noticed he was being a little loud and being mean to me. That was our cue to go home. I had to go to work early the next day, so I went straight to bed. He stayed up for about 30 more minutes playing video games. I don’t remember exactly the time of the night it happened, but I felt him get up. I didn’t bother to look up because I knew he was headed to the bathroom. I heard what sounded like the noise of water and, shortly after, a faint smell. It was urine. I sat up and saw that he was peeing… on my luggage. I’d left it right by our closet, which was on the way to the bathroom. I yelled out his name. He looked at me before focusing his attention on urinating on my luggage. He went back to bed and slept. Like nothing happened. I was furious. I was upset. I grabbed my phone and started recording. I was about a minute into my recording when, all of a sudden, he grabs my phone and punches my left eye twice. My phone was now broken; I couldn’t call for help. I ran to my neighbor‘s house and knocked. They let me in and let me use their phone.
The cops showed up at my neighbor’s house shortly after. I told them what happened, except the part about him punching me. My eyes were puffy from the crying, so the black eye was not noticeable, yet. I also knew that if I told them the truth, they would take him away. I was living in San Antonio, and my family was three hours away. I would be alone, and that scared me. I was scared of what my family would think. The cops took his testimony, and of course, it didn’t make sense. They asked me if I want to press charges, and I said no. I told them to tell him to spend the night elsewhere because I needed to go to work the next day. My abuser respected my wishes and spent the night somewhere else. I couldn‘t sleep; I kept crying and crying. I didn‘t come from a broken home. My parents are happily married. How could this happen to me? Why?
A few hours later, I woke up and started getting ready for work. My left eye was puffy, and the skin had started to darken. No matter how much how much color-correcting makeup I applied, it was still extremely noticeable. My phone screen was beyond shattered, but I managed to text a co-worker that I was going to be late. I showed up an hour later. Thankfully, no one noticed. I was so relieved to find out that I had to paint some props for the rose ceremony outside. My co-worker walked by and saw me with sunglasses on. He texted me asking if I’m okay. I said yes. Thirty minutes later or so, he showed up with a Redbull. The rest of the day went okay. I tried not to think about it. I was so self-conscious about the possibility that other people knew. How could they not? One eye was visibly smaller than the other one, and I was wearing tons of makeup on the black eye.
Then HE texted me. My abuser. My stomach turned queasy. He was apologetic and asked if he could come home. He said he missed me and the dogs. I told him no. What I went through was degrading and humiliating. I did not deserve this. I finally forgave him days later. I missed him, needed him. He came back to the house like nothing happened. I thought he would change, but little did I know, it was the beginning of the physical violence stage.
I have found that healing from trauma happens in stages. One day, you’re happy as can be and all about self-love. The next day, you just want to be in bed and sleep. It’s completely normal. When these old feelings or memories come back, it’s often a sign that you’re healing. It just means that some deep, inner part of you finally feels safe and stable enough to address the leftover emotional fallout that’s been patiently waiting for years. Your new task is to sit with those emotions and let them have their say. Therapy, writing, going to the gym, and spending time with my family have helped me out a lot. Even so, I hope that by writing this down, I can help someone else, while also unburdening myself of this toxic past.