October 5, 2012 § 6 Comments
They say you can’t miss what you’ve never had, but I miss them. My twin is different. She says they’re like the other dead relatives our family talks about; glorious stories that stretch between melancholy and the otherwise ordinary things they romanticize. The first time we learned about the accident, we were five. In our classroom everyone had parents, a sibling or more, and a pet. One boy had his dog and his mom while my twin and I had our grandparents. Our mom and dad had gone to heaven. It was simple as that until the girl in the last row asked how, and I felt stupid for not knowing. That afternoon we learned they were driving to a gala held in honor of our father’s work when a drunken driver pinned their car to a concrete fence. We were six months old.
To this day, I can’t stand alcohol. But surprisingly, fell in love with a drunk and found myself trying to save him while fighting every instinct that implored me to run. The first day he hit me we cried for hours. Apparently my eyes lingered on some random man on campus. I don’t remember doing so but I must have been spaced out and staring into nothing. I’m known for that. I tried to explain but it fell on deaf ears behind the Grace D. Woodside building where he gave me twenty six lashes. He ‘wasn’t having it; won’t tolerate disrespect.’ Three months later after I pleaded with him to stop drinking, he framed my face with kisses then sank his teeth into my bottom lip until I could taste the blood he drew. It was a warning to never speak out of turn again, to know my place. That time he didn’t cry. He was resolute.
I don’t remember how many times after that I was hit. But the last time, I lost control of my bladder. He was pummeling my face for not being in the mood. It’s amazing that when you’re being beaten, you don’t feel sorry for yourself. There is just a need to prove your love, save for that afternoon. I just wanted to run. So I transferred from that school to a university out of state and vowed to never let a man hit me again.
The first thing I learned in therapy was that finding the right therapist is like dating and relationships. Not everyone is good for you. She was a well-meaning woman whose tone I found condescending. Although we didn’t connect, she was kind enough to refer me to someone else but by then I’d lost interest in opening my life to scrutiny.
After the spring of my first year as an adjunct, I headed back East to celebrate my twin’s engagement and realized that I missed being home. The following year I moved back and was for the first time content. Then I met him; a considerate soul with an open disposition. I got a glimpse of love and it was beautiful. Then he wanted to be married and I stopped showing up for dates, never apologetic, and said ill things until the relationship had more moments underground than on the rooftop. He left and I had a series of episodes with broken people who saw their reflection in me.
The day my sister got married, I felt I lost my best friend. Despite being over the moon, her happiness brought a tremendous amount of sadness. After the reception, I called every guy that I dated but either their number had changed, they were married, in a relationship, or didn’t remember who I was. How could she and I come from the same place but have such different lives?
By the time we were thirty, she had a two year old and was afraid to leave her with me. I had name for myself in academia but my personal life was spiraling out of control, and secretly ashamed of it but didn’t know how to stop. Until one guy discovered that I was cheating on him, got drunk, and once again I was being beaten to a pulp.
I still didn’t get it right with the second, third, or fourth therapist. But in our first session, Allison gave me permission to mourn their absence and the moments I would never have. Hers were different; covered the mental science with a spiritual aspect. Over time, I learned to forgive myself for being cruel, accepting abuse, and not trusting my inner voice. I asked him for forgiveness and had to forgive myself for not believing I was worthy of his love. I am learning to be accountable, to become the love I seek.
I have a kitchen garden, and a cat, a good career, and a twin, a niece and a brother-in-law. I have a therapist, family, support, and a series of firsts taking me on a journey to the better me.