Tip of the Iceberg, Broken into Bits (Trigger Warning)

*******GUYS, please: Serious trigger warning is serious, as is the mature content filter.  They are there for a reason.  DO NOT go into this read if triggered by: sexual abuse/assault; emotional abuse; suicide threats; self harm.  Do not be alarmed:  I AM NOT with this guy any longer. But I got to thinking about this poem tonight, and how much I wish people could understand that it’s not always as easy as “just leaving” when it comes to abusive or toxic relationships, and I felt the need to share.  This is my story; please take a moment, if you’re willing, to read, to think, to try to understand…and to be kind.

Copyright Elizabeth Mathis, 2015; originally posted on deviantart right HERE.********

he’s I need you, I love you,
zero to engaged in less than a week,
your family’s approval already in hand
when the festivities stop
and he drops to one knee
no chance to think, no chance to back down–
he settled for second best all through high school,
there’s no chance he’s letting you slip by him now

he’s don’t let me go tears
when you’re dropped back at school,
the strokes of his fingers
smeared invisible over your skin,
the mark of his lips a painting only you see,
his ring a branded burden you’re not sure how to share
because when you left for home a month ago
you belonged to someone else

he’s handcuffed and carted away
just down the block from the theater over spring break
and you, already a mess of dependence
cheeks streaked with the weight of your heart,
wonder just what you’re getting into…but let the thought go
smoke on the wind
like the breaths of the cigarettes
you’ve become second-hand addicted to

he’s talks to people you don’t know
about your size, your shape,
the way your curves dip and hollow
because there are things he wants to do
but he’s not sure how
and he needs to know
to make it good;
he’s secrets told to people you don’t trust
because in his search for confidence
the only thing he knows how to focus on
is your body
and the places
only he can see

it’s he asks an online friend of yours
if she’d be the final piece
in a threesome
and you, uncomfortable
and burning red,
cross your fingers
and squint your eyes
and pray that she says no
because you can’t refuse him anything
but she can

he’s all smiles summer break,
hand holds and inappropriate public gropes
you can’t help but giggle over
discomfort be damned, discomfort go to hell,
he pushes shirts above your midriff
and calls you sexy, babygirl, doll…
stomach-flips and heart turnovers, please always stay!
but somewhere between the Wyoming/Colorado border
on your way to visit Dad and fam in autumn Vegas
something subtle shifts, shuffles, slides
into something worse

the first time you doubt the crazy stranglehold love
you leave blood on white carpet
in little sister’s bedroom,
ice and paper towels and panic at midnight
until it comes out

he’s tightening his hold
on the leash you didn’t know you were wearing,
nights spent at home, fits and phones thrown
at the floor
when you speak up, take a stand, change your mind;
friend lists growing smaller,
black abyss opening

you define codependence returning to college,
red-rimmed eyes and hiccupping sobs
when the car pulls away;
the summer is over
and so, you find out mere weeks later,
is the honeymoon

can’t sleep up all nights
calling despite your classes, your work, your lack of dreams
because he needs you–
the manipulation starts quiet, innocent, innocuous
and then it isn’t

“send me sexy pictures, please?”
and you do, countless baths
and phone on silent
because the roommates are just outside the door;
“tell me when to cum, babe”
ragged breathing, gasping words,
and you whisper
because the roommates are all in bed
and they can’t know your shame;
“get on webcam with me”
and you glance at the clock
and count the time you have,
is it long enough?  what if it’s not?

it’s he wants to send your pictures
to men from magazines
because you’re sexy enough to make the spread
except really
he just wants to sell you
because he can’t find or keep a job

and it goes on
and it gets worse
and you
break
down

first time:
“I’m such a jackass, babe.”
“why do you say that?”
“I went over there for friendship, and slept with her instead.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry.
I won’t do it again.”

he’s apologies and sorrow
and a thousand missed texts when you forget your phone;
you let it slip, forgive and (try to) forget,
the voice in the back of your head
whispering, whispering, whispering things you ignore

second time:
“I didn’t mean to, I swear.
I just miss you.
Maybe if you send more pictures,
got on webcam with me,
got me off again
I wouldn’t be so tempted.”

he’s flowers and gifts, voicemails and emails,
and you try harder, you do what he says,
you spend nights at home on your computer and phone
and forget there’s another world
outside your relationship, your school, and your job

third time:
“I told you this would happen.”

and he yells at you:
you’re a bitch, you’re a slut,
you’re a whore opening her legs
to every guy in that dumb college town
and then he falls asleep,
ignores your calls until morning
and the world moves on

fourth time:
“if you don’t do
what I’m telling you to,
I’m going out and finding someone who will.
I did it before,
I’ll do it again.”

and he rubs it in every time you make him angry,
how easy it was to slip between her thighs,
how good it felt to forget you for a while…
for the first time since this started, you wonder
if this is the reason he keeps “single” on his facebook,
if this is the reason he avoids going out
when you’re home with him

fifth time:
“you stupid fucking slut,
all you women are the same,
can’t keep your zipper up
and your thighs closed”

he yells at you for talking to your mom,
he yells at you for talking to your ex,
he yells at you for talking to your friends,
he yells at you for talking to your roommates,
he yells at you for going out with your roommates,
he yells at you for having friends,
he yells at you for your roommates having friends,
he yells at you for your roommates inviting people over,
he yells at you for having a life outside of him,

he
yells
at
you
for
being
you

and you’re leaving your phone at home,
silencing it to get two hours of sleep,
ignoring texts and sobbing when nobody else is around
because you aren’t sure when things got so bad,
you aren’t sure what you’re doing wrong,
you aren’t sure what more you can give up to make him happy

connections made over the holidays
turn into paranoia, jealousy, anger;
choking on the end of your thread,
his marionette, you make a stance
and flee his company for just one night
because your mom told you to strike it on your own,
your mom thinks you’re in too deep,
your mom is concerned
he’s taking you over
and drowning you

hours later, his brother finds you laughing:
“he said you’d know where to find him,”
as he slips the wedding band,
a heavy burden you’re being strangled by,
into the palm of your hand
“said you’d know what to do with it”

you find him in the basement
smoke in mouth, eyebrows furrowed,
knife in hand and drawing across his skin,
a portrait of pain
he knows how to wield;
when you lead him to bed,
you make sure he leaves the knife
on the dryer

“if I ever find out we break up
because of that bitch mom of yours
I’ll kill her”
and your heart stops, just a moment,
before you let it go,
a moment of unbridled anger
hurled into hurtful words

“one month,”
he says the end of Christmas–
“if you can go one month
without talking to that bastard ex of yours
I won’t say anything more about it”

so you promise (sort of)
and you stick to it (for a day)
and you decide to sneak around
because damnit, if he can be friends
with all the girls he’s dated,
with all the girls he’s slept with,
with all the girls he knows
or doesn’t know
or wants to know
then why can’t you keep just ONE THING
for yourself?

your birthday
and he’s morose because it’s 21
and your roommates want to take you out,
to get you drunk,
to get you to at the very least have fun
but no, he doesn’t like that,
you can’t drink unless he’s there,
your first drink has to be with him

he’s quiet excitement, a manic happy
you can’t puzzle out over the phone
and someone knock, knock, knocking
at your front door

SHIT, you panic, SHIT
because he’s telling you to answer it
and the ex is coming over
to hang out, to celebrate, to give you five seconds of sane
in the insanity your life has derailed into
and if he finds out, if it’s HE at the door,
how are you going to handle
the blowup?

“go open the door!”
and you aren’t sure what to say
because there’s the ex
but he on the phone hasn’t explained,
hasn’t exclaimed,
hasn’t said
anything
and you stand, stupid, mouth open
eyes wide

“happy birthday, babygirl”
“I… what?”
“I’m giving Bau back to you”
“…I don’t understand?”
“he’s your birthday present”

as if people can be presents,
as if his friendship was up for the giving
just like that,
as if HE has any say
in who you’re friends with
in the first place

no, look deeper:
HE contacted the ex
(numbers he stole out of your phone
without permission,
you find out–numbers for the ex,
and your roommates,
and anyone else he thought you might
like to contact,
numbers he used
to manipulate and abuse
the people who were close to you)

he’s angry again, he’s angry all the time over
you no longer know what about,
and this time, he won’t let you explain;
“maybe I’ll just go throw myself
into traffic”
and the phone clicks
and the phone rings
and rings
and rings
and rings
and
r
i
n
g
s

the night is desperate, hourless,
you a wreck of nerves
and heartache
and the click of his voicemail;
in the morning, the sun dawns
and the world turns on still…
almost a full 24 hours later
you learn he was fine the whole time,
passed out and ignoring you

he’s kicked out of your moms house–
the last straw, the final nail in his coffin of hate–
and you, miles away, book a ticket
to his parents
because now that he needs them,
he’s willing to forgive, he’s willing to forget,
he’s willing to put his faith back in them

it’s your mom and brother ransack the bedroom
he was staying in
to get the stink of his stuff from their sight
and find your shame laid out:
packages stolen from strange mailboxes,
jewelry swiped from your mom’s drawers,
boxers knicked from little brother’s room;
pictures printed off college campus computers
you naked and baring all;
blow up doll shoved into the closet,
rubber mouth an O of deflated desire;
toys and swimsuits and lingerie and little blue pills
he never got around to giving you or using

and it’s almost finals week
and he’s planted his feet,
fingers digging into your neck
despite the miles,
jaw set in determination

you’re plans set to move to Colorado with him
his mom and stepdad excited,
looking into bus tickets, wanting you there;
your family, unstable and buckling,
calling to convince you not to go
because once you get there,
you’re stuck,
no job no friends no help no nothing but him
and that can’t be what you really want

the beginning of the end,
you’ve reached the frayed edges of the rope
you’ve been clinging so desperately to
he yells at you again
for calls to your mother, for advice listened to
that wasn’t from him
and you call his stepdad to try to understand

only one line stands out to you
from the mess of conversation that followed,
his stepdad cool and confident on the line
convinced you’ll do the right thing

“it was wrong of him to tell you
you can’t speak to your mom; she’s family,
it’s something we’re working on
but once you get down here,
you aren’t going to know anyone
it’ll just be you and him
and that’s all you’re really going to need”

five seconds of talk–
a new spin on the life you thought you were working for

you panic–SHIT–
what did you get yourself into
and how the hell
do you get yourself out of it?
because once you get down there,
you’ll never leave
and you realize it now;
no back to school in the autumn,
no going home to see mom,
no anyone you’ve ever known
or anything you’ve ever needed

you’re type 1 diabetic
and you know you haven’t done your best by yourself with it
but what if you get down there
and can’t afford your medications?
your test strips?
your supplies?
what if you get down there
and can’t afford to pay
for your right to keep your life?

it’s a burden of a different sort,
a stroke of epiphany you can’t shake off,
a sudden understanding that you’ve put it all on the line
for a guy who can’t handle treating you well
and what for
but heartache at the end
of a very long road

and you

f
i
n
a
l
l
y

leave

everything

in

silence

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Tip of the Iceberg, Broken into Bits (Trigger Warning)

    • Thank you, sweets, for reading and commenting. Manipulation is the worst when it comes to abusive/toxic relationships, but it’s been a long time since I held myself responsible for what happened to me. ❤

      Like

    • Thank you, sweetheart. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason; even if I, at this point in my life, cannot see what the reason behind this experience was, I’m SURE there was a lesson learned that will crop up again in the future…and have me come out on the other side with understanding. (I mean, you know, aside from the obvious lessons I’ve already learned from it–about who I am and what I should want/should not stand for from a partner) ❤

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s