There have been non-stop apologies after that. ... The same as after every other event since then.
Maddy, please give me one more chance
You’re everything to me
You’re the only person in my life
I love you
I’ve never loved anyone as I love you
Please let me explain
I want to apologise
Can I talk to you?
I don’t know what happened, I don’t remember anything
Give me one last chance
It will never happen again
I’ll never touch alcohol again
I would do anything for you
Just tell me you still love me
And on and on and on... The same pleading, the same promises never kept, the same moving explanations as to why he reacts like this. I know he is in pain, he is damaged. I want to help, but now I’m not sure that I can, and I need to start looking after myself.
During a raw, I tell him I have had enough. That we’re finished. He takes his few things and disappears.
Despite myself, I miss him, and I worry about him. I can’t find him for two days. Nobody knows where he is. He has not been at work. I have had no texts from him. Nobody has seen or heard from him. I’m frantic. I even scour the hospital and peer in dreadfully sad and dilapidated rooms. Ask the non-English speaking receptionist to scroll down his hand-written record for the past three days to see if his name is in there. I find nothing, and I have run out of ideas. Then I sit on the patio in the evening and hear noises from behind my room. He is there, sleeping on the barren earth, matted and drunk. As I wake him to put him under the shower, he starts crying inconsolably.
‘I miss you. I can’t live without you. You told me to leave.’
Big gulping, crying noises. His chest heaves as he tries to breathe in between bouts of tears. I feel an unbearable guilt for having caused him so much pain. I promise him I will never leave him. How do things always turn out to be my fault?
I have spent the last two New Year’s Eves, two Valentine’s Days and two birthdays here, and he has managed to spectacularly ruin every single one of them.
Over the weeks and months, there has been a constant string of incidents more or less violent. Too many to recount, too many to remember.
The time when I was pushed against a wall and left with a chipped bone in my shoulder. The time when I was shoved so hard, I was catapulted against two tables, my ribs bruised. The time he forced scorching food in my mouth, and I had blisters for a week.
There have been so many times I ran away, only to realise it was late at night and I had nowhere to go. So I would wander the streets and hide in doorways, dozing off, waiting for daylight and inspiration, dreading he would find me. Times when I would just curl up in bed and cover my ears against the barrage of abuse, wishing it would stop, hoping for it all to go away before it turned physical, knowing he would fall asleep if I could just wait it out.
Time and again I would walk off from the crazy arguments and accusations, only to give in at his first attempts of reconciliation. I would jump on the first bus and put distance between us, book myself into a hotel, only to lasts a couple of days before his constant texting, calling and apologising would make its way straight into my heart, and I would give in. I would tell him where I was, and he would come over. We would make up, only for the explosive happiness to be short-lived and the cycle to repeat itself without respite.
I have been accused of all sorts. He has repeatedly brought up all the things I confided to him when we were first dating. My extramarital affair and romances I had when I was young all seem to be wrongs I did to him personally.
He has bombarded me with doubts and insinuations. Kyle left me because I was not a good mother, Ben left me because I was not a nice wife, and even my mother doesn’t want to see me. I’m bad to the people I should love, that’s why they all leave me. What kind of horrible person am I? A constant barrage of hurt. Followed - sometimes - by apologies.
Like the earth orbiting the sun, we would inevitably end up repeating the whole thing again and again and again.
I know this cannot go on. Will it ever get better?
But it doesn’t get better, and it does go on, over and over again with surgical precision. Ego battering, ego propping. The ebb is never-ending.
He seems to alternate between the silent treatment and the verbal attacks, intermingled with a few episodes of severe physical violence. He punishes me for being me. Any excuse would do. It’s something I say, something I do, something I don’t say, something I don’t do. The words I use, the faces I pull, the clothes I wear, the choices I make, the way I eat, the way I hang the washing.
Like walking on eggshells, I spend my life trying not to disturb the thin equilibrium in his head, but I promptly fail miserably and pay for it dearly.
I live in a constant state of alertness.
I fret if I take too long at the shops, in case he thinks I’m up to no good. I’m constantly ignoring people and walk with my eyes cast to the floor.
Even during the few good times, I’m anticipating his thoughts, checking in my mind before I say anything to see how it could be twisted in his head. I can’t relax, not ever.
Over the months, so many of these episodes have left me numb and more unable to seek help.
And then there was one time when I saw crystal clear that he didn’t want me to be happy. He hated me being happy in fact, unless it was because of something he did. When the band was playing old songs that reminded me of past times, and I started singing along, his good humour quickly left him, and a sombre mood took over. I could feel his hatred for my happiness as if it was being spoken directly into my ears. That was a realisation I had never had before. While all I want is for him to be happy, all he wants is for me to be miserable.
The shame and the denial are always with me. How can this be happening to me? How could I have been so wrong about him? I must try again. I can’t fail at this as I have failed with Kyle.
But days and weeks pass, and my life never gets any better.
Day in and day out, I push away the evidence that stares me right in the face, and my heart chooses always to give me an alternative angle on reality. My brain erases the bad memories to protect me, so I end up justifying the bruises and avoiding the prying eyes and any offers of help.