I only found myself weak enough to dial your phone number two nights this year. I am thankful for this.
The first night was when the summer heat was still lingering on my skin and the manic tendencies of my brain had not subsided with the fall air yet. Your timing was perfect. I was at a low for the first time in months and you knew all of the right words to say. I spent the evening surrounded by friends drinking to celebrate the new semester. But my thoughts were clouded with the messages you were sending me. You brought up “old times” as if those old times weren’t covered in bruises and hate. I fell for it. Around 12am I told you where I was. I snuck out of the house in fear that my friends would found out just how weak I am. When I got into your car I was terrified of you, but the familiar feeling in my gut that I used to get with you was telling me to trust you again, that maybe this time you won’t hurt me as badly.
We spent close to an hour in your car going to your new house. You stared at me the whole time, almost never looking at the road ahead of you. You played the same songs that you used to play when we were together, convincing me that maybe the old times weren’t as bad as I once imagined. You seemed different, a little more grown up; maybe after living for 28 years you learned to not hurt those who are weak enough to beg for your love. But maybe I was just a little more naive. You had moved back into your mother’s house in the rural town you grew up in, so you had to sneak me into her basement. I began to feel like I used to when I was with you; I began to feel used. When you laid me out on your bed you immediately dove into me like you had been waiting to touch me for months. I felt the chills inside of my body that you used to give me when you touched my skin. The way you first touched me that night was soft and loving, just like how our relationship began. But like old times, your touch grew colder and harder. You were no longer caressing my skin. Your closed fist cracked across my face and I knew that I was stuck. For the next few hours you pushed yourself so deep inside of me that every twenty minutes I had to move from the bed to vomit and sweat in pain. I did not sleep that night. When I woke up in the morning to the familiar view of your army gear scattered across the room I wanted to kill myself for the first time in months. You kissed me tenderly that morning, placing your lips on every bruise you had painted on my body the night before. And when I cried on the drive home you looked me in the eyes and sang along to the same country songs that you used to on the mornings after you hurt me.
It felt like months before those bruises faded; months before I had to stop making up explanations for why my ribs and chest were painted purple. But months later, like clock work I found you inside of me again. It was two nights after the man I loved went to jail. I was weak and in pain from the images I had seen two nights before and I needed someone, anyone, to force me to focus on something else. Unlike the times before, this time you did not start in a loving manner. This time you knew I was weaker than before. You insulted me from the moment you stepped into my room. You made me feel like the space I was in was no longer mine. There was this understanding between us that this was in no way out of love. When you fucked me that night I loved the way it hurt. I loved the way you looked at me with disgust. I feel like I deserved the pain you were inflicting on me. And in the morning there was no need for you to make me feel like I was loved. You were past that with me. You no longer felt any humanity towards me. You picked up your things and you slammed the door behind you.
I’m praying that I won’t be as weak anymore.
Valerie McGovern is a writer based in New York City.