A Stone Flower in Medusa’s Garden

I finally told him about that Valentine’s Day…

You were relentless that year in your pursuit of our mutually assured destruction. Between your addictions and my self-destruction, we were all gut rot and sore thumbs. Even though it was for different reasons, all our arms were bruised to August sunset. Valentine’s was no exception.

The day before Valentine’s, you had become upset with me for no reason, slivers of porcelain eggshells embedded in my feet from tiptoeing on them around you…You did what you knew would hurt me the worst. You told me you were done with me for the day and told me to get out of your apartment. I stood there, a stone flower in Medusa’s garden. When I didn’t move to the door quickly enough, you packed a bowl &, without looking up, coldly asked me, “Why are you still standing there?” I mumbled, “Because I have nowhere else to go.” You were lighting up by that point, so I’m not even sure you heard my answer, heard the door close behind me. Did you even notice I was gone? Did you miss me?

Because I had nowhere else to go, nowhere where I was wanted at least, I went to Barnes & Noble to buy your gift. Even when exiled to your Antartica, I wanted to be good to you, to make you smile. You knew this and always made me work so hard for it. You always wanted me to prove I loved you. At B & N, I struggled through bookshelves of all the dead poets we loved, trying to find the perfect gift. I finally decided on one of the few Bukowski’s that you didn’t have.  As Buk said, love is a dog from hell.

The next day, February 14th, I was Eve, debating whether or not Eden would let me back in, as I still held the browned & bitten apple. I wore the most precious shade of nursery-pink cardigan with a delicate sequined flower sewn on my black A-line skirt. It was sad, really, my attempt at a hands-folded-on-lap kind of purity. The look was my contrivance of a 50’s housewife. In reality, I was brittle and thinned out with an eating disorder and freezing to death in your Frigidaire presence. When I got to your place, you were still in your pj’s, unwashed & scruffy. I handed you your gift gently, hopefully. You opened it with this vacant look on your face. You had nothing to give me in return.

We ended up going to dinner. In the car, you told me, “If I was going to buy you ANYTHING, I would’ve gotten you a plant.” I responded, “Probably not a good idea. I’m afraid I kill them.” You snapped back, “Well that’s your problem then.” You were angry all over again with me, even though it was only a hypothetical gift that I had rejected. To punish me, you raged at me in the car all the way to the restaurant. All flying spittle & clenched fist. As I drove, you told me everything that was wrong with the world, specifically as it applied to me. About halfway to the restaurant, I meekly told you that I had lost my appetite. You yelled, “What’s wrong NOW?” I proceeded to the restaurant, afraid of how angry with me you would be if I didn’t…

During this time period in my life, besides loving you, eating was my greatest instrument of torture. It was a sadistic rack I laid myself on daily, to stretch myself to thinness. But my only goal on this day was to make you not mad at me-even if it meant forcing myself to eat. I got a plate of food, headfucked myself into trying to eat it, but it didn’t matter. You launched into a 10 minute grim verbal assault on me anyway. You were so intent on breaking my frail bones, you didn’t notice that I had already rejected the plate before me and my gaze was fixed miserably down at the table as you ate.

You looked up and disgustedly spat, “Roxy, you’re crying in the restaurant.” I hated you for saying that with such disgust, but instead I just whispered, “I know. I’m sorry. This is so stupid.” I started crying harder, hated myself for it. The other patrons started to stare at us-actually at me…I imagine they only saw a fragile, weeping girl in precious pink. You leaned over the table and said loudly, angrily, “Are you going to stop or should we just leave?” I cried, “I’m trying, I’m trying.” But finally I had to admit that I couldn’t stop. You threw money down on the table, grabbed me by the elbow and marched me out of the restaurant. As we passed people waiting in line, I was completely humiliated.

Once outside, you took my keys away, steered my body into the passenger side. With a tone of warning, you told me to get it together…sandpaper, grit, steel wool in your voice. I banged the side of my head against the car window till it was bruised tender at my temple…I did it just to shut you out. You asked me to kiss you, in an attempt to interrupt whatever hamster wheel I had climbed on and was running to ruin on. Instead, I looked at you and flatly expelled, “I really don’t want to live anymore.” You responded, “I know, I know” and squeezed my hand. I started to calm down at your change of attitude. Till you turned the key in the ignition, “Well, now maybe I can get some ass at least.”  I thought you were trying to joke.

I told him that part of the story.

What I didn’t tell him was the ending to the story…that when we got home, you forced me to have sex with you…I laid  underneath you as you shoved and pushed your way into my numbed body. I was quiet and deathly still. Part A thrusting into Slot B. There was no romance or lust…only mechanics.  When you were done, you went out to the living room and turned on the tv. I limped out and sat at your feet, a pet readied for the kicking. I don’t know which of us I hated more in that moment.

I didn’t tell him that part of the story because I didn’t know how to explain why I stayed. Thinking about it now, I don’t know why I was afraid to tell him. Does anyone blame a rose for still trying to bloom when its roots are searching deep in barren wasteland & its only nourishment is acid rain? You were such a cruel gardener…but I was a foolhardy flower, stubborn with a desire to survive anyway.

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February 19, 2019


February 20, 2019

Was this the same ex from the previously described Valentine’s experience where you trudged through snow only to find that everything, including Dunkin, was closed? And if so, surely this was a subsequent Valentine’s Day? That would seem to show a terrible degradation in the level of care/respect with which he treated you. I wish that someone working or dining at that restaurant would’ve stood up for you or offered some bit of comfort (though of course the vast majority of people will always think “I should just mind my own business” when witnessing scenes of domestic abuse in public).

February 20, 2019

@drbajahi yes, this was the same man, my husband.

We were eating at a restaurant in a rural, redneck area…where people are very much of the mindset that you mind your own business in these matters.

Because of his drug use, there were times he was the most wonderful person in the world…but other times, well, were like this. That’s what made it so hard to leave, I think.

February 21, 2019

@thecriticsdarling Sounds a lot like the rural/redneck area I grew up in — where men treating their women like shit (while most people looked the other way) was practically woven into the fabric of the culture. Then I know that many people stay too long in abusive relationships because of those fleeting flashes of loving good times that give them hope.

February 20, 2019

I’m a firm believer that with domestic violence the victim becomes as sick as the abuser. Especially when you have had the background of sexual abuse. That changes us it changes our self-worth. Even though it shouldn’t it does. I love you!

February 20, 2019

@dancingthrough thank you for your kind-heartedness….world needs more of it. I have never been able to get beyond the extreme self loathing that is a consequence of what happened to me as a kid….  which means I never really get beyond making choices for myself that replicate the same results….still trying…

February 22, 2019

My bf is an abuse survivor, and watched his siblings be victimized as well. It has definitely affected his skills at being in a relationship…I see both him and me in the story you tell here. And my heart breaks for you, the pet ready to be kicked, hating yourself and him, both.