Harm, noun. Physical or mental damage.
How do you ever know if someone is good? Not good for you, but good? How do you ever know that a person won’t cross certain boundaries, won’t belittle your humanity?
It can’t be education. While I was young when I stumbled across the first, I was taught well, wasn’t I? Yet, I gave him the most precious thing I had to offer at the time, and every other thing I came to possess over our time together.
But did he not take my mind, my self, and try to mold it within his own two hands into something that would suit him? Did he not balk at the concept that a child would grow into a woman, into her own person, and be different? Did he not do all he could to stamp out my thoughts, interests, desires and dreams when they didn’t align with his plan?
It certainly isn’t flattery. He said all the right things and took the opportunity to do the worst he could in the allotted time. He left me with an ugly souvenir that means that every intimate encounter I have with someone comes with a disclaimer. The worst of it is that he doesn’t understand how private, how shy I really am underneath the flirtation, the fact that I would rather not engage than engage with a warning sign. So, I haven’t.
It isn’t childhood security, I know this too deeply. I could, in fact, see the child in him as he worked to violate me. I could also see in my mind the children one floor away from us, so I did not scream.
Not until I was far away, but not far enough away, feeling my mind shatter into smaller pieces than I ever felt I could regather, reclaim. Not until I realized that he still felt that he was owed some good from the universe, the whole thing having been rather taxing for him.
Yeah, he did that shit.
It isn’t the happiness they bring you. She changed my world. She made it somewhere that I wanted to inhabit forever, with her. We made promises and exchanged vows. While I understand the harm I brought to her, she will never understand her own mistakes. I changed, I grew, I kept my promises. I keep them every day, with the ingestion of three small pills and a weekly chat session with a bespectacled woman who knows all of my tricks.
I don’t expect kindnesses, but I do at least expect to be left alone. I don’t expect to be subjected to the vile ramblings of someone who isn’t even a part of my life while I try to live it. I don’t expect others to break their promises while I have kept my own, even if it meant not doing the one thing I know I can always do well.
So yes, you go here too.
It can’t be time. Eighteen months to agree to dinner. The time it took to get to know his family, his life, and participate in it. To feel permanent in it. To trust him. To love him.
I can tell you that it takes less than eighteen seconds to be tossed like a ragdoll by your throat. Too stunned to scream, you can’t even ask why. Too stunned to process, you go back. You stay until you realize that you absolutely cannot.
I tried. I didn’t know what else to do, so I tried. I listened, I helped. I begged and I hoped.
And he did it again.
I hate screaming out in pain. I hate crying. I hate the crowded feeling of having people look over my shoulder to help me up. I don’t like that sort of attention.
What I do like is knowing that I can hold people accountable, the same way I expect to be held accountable. I expect my harm to come at a price.
I just wish I could learn something.
Do you ever know if someone is good?