Chapter 18 ~ The Breakdown
Please listen to... Julia Brennan - Inner Demons... while reading this chapter.
He said ‘I understand how hard this must be for you’.
He said ‘You are not alone, unfortunately, thousands of children have experienced what you have’.
He said ‘This is the first step in your recovery’.
It’s funny, because even though Dr Morton had said those things – that’s exactly the opposite of how I felt inside.
“I’m really proud of you cowgirl, that took a lot of guts to talk about in there. You were really brave.”
Pierce had been offering words of comfort the whole way back. The truth was, I didn’t feel brave, I didn’t feel like I had guts or that I wasn’t alone in my torment. I didn’t feel anything but dirty, always dirty. Pierce had sat there, the entire time and listened as I recounted the traumatic events that lead to my breakdown senior year, he didn’t interrupt, he didn’t swear or carry on, his leg shook frantically and I could see just how furious he was – but he said nothing – Just held my hand.
Surviving, as Dr Morton called it, through being molested shows strength, harnessing the ability to push forward even though you feel you have no control either in your life or in your mind. Even if I felt as though I have been stripped of my power, despite my need to rely on chemically enhanced substances to help ward off the nightmares, I was still a strong individual and he told me I was more special than I realised.
I don’t feel very special at all.
If only I had of opened my mouth, said something, but I couldn’t, I was weak and I had let myself down. Dr Morton explained how I was groomed, that this was not a single selection process. My predator had targeted me for quite some time and he knew, I would be easy prey.
“I know this has been such a tough time for you, but you did it – you broke through that first barrier and there is no stopping you now. You’re amazing Avaleria, god am I proud of you.”
Right at this moment, as I sat in the passenger’s seat of Pierce’s truck with tears falling silently, I didn’t feel amazing, I just couldn’t understand these ‘things’ they kept telling me I was. I felt disgusting, broken, I had to relive every touch, every word, every single eidetic detail right down to my predators smell as the stench from his breath had come back at full force, a scent I had tried to wipe from the darkness of my mind, no, this was far from being amazing. I was shattered, unfixable but most of all – weak – definitely not strong.
People who fought fires or cared for the suffering, they were the strong and brave ones and they endured things I couldn’t even imagine. Dr Morton assured me that none of this was my fault, that these depraved, sick minded people were to blame – not me, but somehow, I just didn’t believe him. This has to be my fault in some way, because, why else would you do that to a child? Why would you rape them of any security and leave them to suffer through this heinous and deplorable crime? I don’t know how to be brave like others, all I know how to do – is forget – by reaching for the only substance that provides instant relief from the images set on replay within the dark corners of my ruptured and maimed mind.
“You are a survivor, fierce, so fierce.” Pierce’s words of false praise stabbed at my heart.
I always saw a survivor to be someone who lived after being diagnosed with cancer or battled through being physically amputated – loss of leg or arm or mutilated, not someone like me, who tried desperately for years, to will away the shame and self-blame of it all.
My predator’s words of manipulation on repeat in my head:
~ This is your fault, if only you didn’t look so beautiful ~ You tease me all the time ~ I know this is what you want, you love me touching you ~ Why do you do this to me little cherub? ~ Imagine how your Mum would feel, knowing how you’ve turned me on? ~
There were times where I wanted to end my life and moments that I tried – the scars on my body left behind the reminder of just how bad things became, times where the pain collapsing on top of me was too much to bear, I couldn’t breathe, I needed to get it out of my head, stop the phantom feel of his fingertips crawling along my skin… but once that pill hit my bloodstream – I became invincible, wonder woman, I was strong, I was fearless and I was able to ‘face everything’ on a fabricated escape – the drugs were my blanket to cover all of his ugliness.
I tried to run but the memory would always follow, there was no reprieve, no relent, no hope. The day I broke, was the day I told Ivy and Mac and they both shunned me for it. Ivy told me I was mistaken, told me that I shouldn’t lie, told me – this was my fault. I needed their help and they had none to give, so I kept my mouth shut, spoke to no one – just ran.
Try as I might I could never scrub the filth from my soul, the wretched apparitions haunted me at every turn, sleep or awake – it was always just there. Everything about my predator had been burned into the very fibres of my body, festering away with each remembrance.
I pulled my knees to my chest, wrapping my arms around me and burying my head, a pathetic attempt to stop the continual onslaught of visions penetrating my head, again and again, as the tears gushed without apology. Had I not suffered enough? Was I doomed to relive this for the rest of my life?
‘P-p please Pierce, I need s-s something,’ I sobbed. ‘P-p please, p-please.’
“Shit, you’re shaking,” I heard him curse, just as the brakes slammed and the tires skidded to a screeching halt.
The ache in my chest burned so badly, it was heavy, too heavy for me to carry, I couldn’t breathe, it was all too much.
The car door was ripped open and warmth surrounded me. Warmth, security and the safest place in the world – just held me as I howled in torturous, crippling pain.
‘P-please…’ I begged, I just needed it to stop all of it to just stop. ‘P-Pierce, p-please.’
“Open your eyes Avaleria…” I heard a faint whisper, “Avaleria, open your eyes, come back to me,” there it was again. “You can do it, I’ve got you, baby, open your eyes.” This voice so calming, so comforting, it reminded me of love – so much pure, true love. “Lyera – open your eyes.”
My lids snapped open to reveal not the face of my predator but the face of the man I loved. Pierce Tyler. His capturing cognac browns, his soft gentle but masculine face, I reached up and ran my thumb along his forehead, smoothing the deep crease marring his forehead, “I’ve done that to you,” I whispered in realisation. His frown lines ingrained into his head thanks to all of my drama, I had ‘scarred’ his handsome face through worry.
“No baby, all you’ve done is make my life better.” I gazed up at him lovingly, lost in the beauty that naturally radiated from him.
“You’re so full of shit,” I stated with a smile.
“Hey, there she is, thought I’d lost you for a minute there.” All of a sudden I realised we were in his room, in his bed, when did we get here?
“When did we get home?”
“A little while ago, Dr Morton informed me you might have memory flashbacks – like you did in the car, thank god he did too – you got a little lost in one for just a moment, but you got through it. I love that you called this your home, I want it to be.”
“I got through it?” I questioned in disbelief, “I got through something without drugs?”
“You don’t need it, you’re strong enough without them.”
“No, I-I’m pretty sure it’s you.”
“No Lyera, you fought it on your own…”
“I was begging, I remember begging you.” His forehead scrunched again as he looked at me as though I had completely lost it.
“Avaleria, you didn’t beg me for anything.”
“B-but I said the words out loud – Please Pierce, I need something.”
“You might have said them in your head, but you said nothing to me. Once you pulled your knees to your chest, you closed your eyes, I tried to talk to you but you couldn’t hear me. You were howling and crying out, your whole body shuddered but you never once asked me for anything – I think you just fought that battle in your head. The only person that didn’t give into the call for drugs – was you, I just carried you in here and held you, waiting until you were calm enough to open your eyes.”
I looked up at him in confusion, that was not at all what I perceived happening. Weird… same situation, two completely different points of view.
“I didn’t beg you?” I need another confirmation.
“I swear to you, not one single word came from your mouth until you opened your eyes. Whatever you think you said, was you fighting in your head and nothing to do with me.” I was stunned, shocked, I could have sworn I said it out loud. “Cowgirl did you hear what I said before?” He moved to beside me resting his head on his hand as I rolled onto my side and looked up at him.
“About calling this your home – permanently?”
“God, you really are a sucker for punishment Tyler,” he chuckled.
“I told you, I got skeletons we ain’t even seen yet. You mentioned to Mac about the ‘completely fucked up’ club. Think you should make room for one more.”
“Impossible, you’re perfect.”
“I’m not, but you’ve dodged my question again. Move in here – permanently.”
I looked upon the man willing to go to the very depths of hell to prove just how much he loved me, just how much I actually meant to him. “Okay, Tyler.”