Coffee, Tea? Or me?

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Part II

II

James was lying in bed, Lucy’s head resting on his chest, his hands through her silky hair. She was distractedly circling the outline of the bruises near his belly button with her soft fingers. They had made love in their usual healing way because merging their bodies could always soothe their souls.

“I’m going to speak about this,” James said, carefully judging her reaction.

Lucy looked up at him. “Are you sure? This could have many implications...”

James took her hand in his. “I know, baby but I’m sure. It’s the right thing to do...”

“I agree,” said Lucy softly. “If you bring attention to the issue, maybe people with the same problem will feel less lonely. Maybe it would encourage them to seek help...”

“That would be amazing. If I could inspire even one person to take matters into their own hands then it would be worth it.” He looked away as his mind trailed off.

Lucy moved a strand of hair from his forehead.

“What does it feel like?” She asked.

James thought it through for a moment, then he frowned. “It’s sad really. I would tell myself that I was just having a bad day and that everything would go away, that I was a good person, with a good heart and intentions but then my anger would overpower all this and I would end up hurting the people I loved the most again and again.”

Lucy squeezed his hand but didn’t say anything, her heart was breaking by seeing him so hurt.

James continued. “The worst thing about this is that you feel like you’re not in control of your body sometimes. Your mind is clouded by blind rage almost like a blackout and, even though you know what you’re about to do is not right, that your reaction is disproportionate, that’s the only way you can get some sort of relief”. He frowned. “From the outside people can only see the violence and that’s what you are to them but no one ever thinks how scary it can be for the person who’s living through this, to come back to the things you’ve done or said while your brain was in overload, how lonely this can make you...”

He was silent for a moment then looked straight into Lucy’s eyes with a pleading expression. “I’m not a bully or a violent man, Lucy. I don’t enjoy violence...”

Lucy propped herself up on her elbow and caressed his cheek.

“I know, baby. Of course, you’re not! I’m so sorry to hear your pain...”

James tucked her hair behind her ear, looking at her kind face that was now mirroring his heartbreak.

“The hardest part for me when I tell people about this issue is to make them understand the struggle. Anger itself is not a mental illness so sometimes people get judgemental and think it’s just an excuse for creating trouble...”

“James, when I saw the state you were in this morning obviously I was worried but mostly I could see the sorrow in your eyes, you looked so sad and it broke my heart. I could never think you enjoy being violent...”

“This is why I love you. You can see right through me...”

Lucy looked down. “I wish it were true, I wish I saw it when it started.”

“Hey, hey,” James squeezed her hand. “Don’t ever think like that! It had been creeping back for months before I hit your ex and by that time you were going through your own shitstorm! Actually, you’re the main reason I’ve managed to keep it together so far.”

Lucy chuckled. “We’re both so fucked up”.

James smiled. “A perfect match.”

Lucy looked in his eyes for a moment then tentatively asked.

“Have you ever hurt the people around you, like last night I mean? Your family? Your girlfriend...”

James looked away briefly and Lucy could see a storm of emotions in his emerald eyes, she felt bad for asking that question as sorrow clouded his face.

“I would never hurt you, Lucy. Fuck, this is what I feared...”

Lucy interrupted him with a kiss. “I believe you but I need to know if you did in the past.”

James stroked her cheek with his thumb. “I love you more than anything, more than anyone I’ve ever loved. I’d rather hurt myself than hurt you, I want this to be clear,” he cleared his throat and continued. “I’ve never hurt any of them physically, I would never dare to, but I sure did through my behaviour. I would lash out and hurt their feelings or even scare them, and in the moment, it honestly felt good to let out the frustration that I was trying to control; but then I’d regret it instantly and have this hatred for myself because I thought it was impossible to not be able to manage my anger, especially with the people I loved and who were there to protect me and help me”.

Lucy leaned her forehead against his and was silent for a moment, trying to absorb some of those negative emotions that were upsetting her boyfriend so badly.

“It must have been so hard for you, especially when you were so young,” she said as she moved back, then asked. “Why are you angry? What caused your issues?”

James sighed heavily.

“You don’t have to tell me, baby. I understand if it’s too hard to talk about”.

James pushed himself up to seated, his back against the headboard and Lucy sat up too next to him.

“No, I need to, I want to. No more secrets right?”

She smiled.

“According to my therapist I was triggered as a child,” James cleared his throat. “I had a difficult situation at home with my natural father, he would mistreat my mother and cause tensions in the household. Alcohol didn’t help, same old same old. Anyway, apparently, I am mostly “triggered” when I feel threatened or I see someone close to me being threatened, it also can happen when I think a situation is particularly unfair for me. It’s like I have trauma from my early childhood so deep at the back of my mind that it keeps building up stored emotions until they become too strong and I explode in aggressiveness and in the worst-case scenarios, violence.”

He scoffed. “I know it sounds like lame excuses...”

Lucy stroke his arm. “Fuck, James no! Why would you say that! I’m sorry you had to go through that shit...”

James shrugged. “It’s in the past. My mother remarried and my father, I mean the man who raised me is an amazing person. He had to put up with a lot from me but he never gave up”.

“They both did a great job with you,” said Lucy with a smile.

“Where’s your real father now? If I can ask...”

“He’s dead,” said James without much interest.

Lucy nodded then placed a kiss on his lips. “Will you go back to therapy?”

“Yes, I need to. I don’t want to find myself in this situation again and not because of my public image but for myself, for you, for my family....fuck, I need to call my mother before the interview, she’s gonna be crushed to know I fell back to it”.

Lucy combed his hair back with her fingers. “You’re taking the situation in your hands, you’re doing the right and mature thing and you’re going to speak about it to raise awareness. I’m sure she’ll be proud of that because I am”.

James took her hand and smiled, then with his deep voice said “Will you go to the interview with me?”

Lucy looked at him and she saw all his insecurity and fragility so distant from his usual confidence, child-like eyes staring back at her.

“Yes, of course”.

James scoffed. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” he looked at her. “Hardest than nude scenes.” He joked to lighten the mood.

Lucy smiled and touched the tip of his nose with her index finger. “You’re a rockstar.”

James smiled again and this time it reached his eyes and Lucy felt her heart fill with joy.

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