Toughened Glass Under Pressure: The Guilt of Survival

Abuse doesn’t just leave physical scars. It leaves a permanent sense of helplessness, fear and for me, an intense need to apologize. I’m constantly sorry. I’m sorry for getting in the way, I’m sorry for being sorry. I’m sorry for making noise, for doing something, for not doing it. I’m sorry I haven’t, I’m sorry I have, I sorry I couldn’t and that I could, I’m sorry I’m sick, or that I’m well and others are not. I can’t help it. I’m just so damn sorry all the time. Not only am I sorry, I’m also scared. I’m scared I’ve offended people, I’m scared that I have made them sad, or hurt their feelings, or upset them. I take the hint when the hint isn’t even the hint, its just a bad day, or a busy moment, and worry that somehow their coldness, or haste means more than it actually does

I’m hyperaware, hyper vigilant, and super sensitive, and I refuse to apologize for that. Which makes a change, I guess.

I was abused for decades of my life. Routinely beaten and forced to live in a state of justified fear and high tension. It does not always make me the most sympathetic of people. I can be grouchy, I can be intolerant of other’s bullshit. I can be fragile but spikey. I often do not appear to be very brittle, but I am intensely breakable. What did they say about Frieda Kahlo? Fragile like a bomb? I’m more toughened glass under pressure. Keep on piling on the weight, and do not take the load off Paltry, and it is not until it is way too heavy that the cracks start to show. From there it is not far to making some shattered glass.

Today I had one of those days. Today someone lacked sensitivity, they were harsh and demanding. And they pushed me totally over the edge of the abyss. I get scared. I get snappy. Friends do not know how to cope with my upset, so they withdraw, and so do I. I try to protect those around me from the storm. I pick up a guitar, but cannot concentrate. All I can see in front of me is Mr Charming’s face, blank and wild eyed, flared nostrils and flushed red in some baseless anger. All I can say is sorry. I’m sorry. I am so sorry. Please don’t hurt me. I am doing my best.

Yes, it is pathetic. I expect I sounded pathetic to my neighbors, whimpering and crying, trying to be beaten without a sound so my shouts did not disturb my babies or my neighbors. Then I read some privileged women crowing about her ability to pick good men. Always blame the woman for the abuse. That seems to be the rule. Blame her judgement, blame her actions, blame her for the laws trapping her in a country not her own, and I see red. I see pure blood red and Mr. Charming’s merciless face as he wrapped his big strong hands around my neck and started to squeeze.

What did Joni Mitchell sing? ‘They gonna aim the hoses at you, show them you won’t expire?’ Something like that. I used to sing songs in my head try not to pass out. I’d try to remember the words of songs I loved (blue, sang Joni in my head, Blue songs are like tattoos) try to stay awake and alert, do not pass out, keep breathing, keep awake, stay alive for the children. Stay alive for them. People say that to you a lot in those circumstances. Stay alive for your children. What about me? What about me? Didn’t I matter? What about my life? Was I so worthless my only worth was to them? The red mist descends, and so do I again. Again I can’t breathe, Mr. Charming’s heavy stinking weight on top of me, heaving again and again, making me want to vomit. I take myself to the shower and let the hot water run over me.

Today was not a good day, and what is more, no one really cares. Why should they? It was all my fault. Im sorry.

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