This post will be autobiographical in part. The name of my abuser is denoted by an asterisk (*). We have no contact. I use the phrase dead flower and when I speak of the women affected, ultimately killed by the men whom said they loved them. I am aware domestic violence happens to men as well. I want it said here that, too, is not okay. People you love, you should not seek to destroy. This is what happened to me. In the hindsight of age, I am more aware of how blessed I am. And how close I came to never the warmth of the sun again. -JBHarris
I’ll tell you exactly how it happened. I, too, was almost a dead flower.
The man I had loved for a year and more once threw me across a room. He stood 6’9″ and about 280. I was 5’10” and 160. All girl. He was mad at me for something and we were living with his Dad and his Dad’s girlfriend.
I can tell you about the day I almost died.
Before I could get up and run again, I had hit him in the mouth with my fist and ran in the other room. I was on the floor, and he said, “Come here I’m not through with you yet!” And he choked me until I almost passed out. I remember feeling dizzy. I was scared. For all my tomboy nature, the history of fighting boys and hopping fences, I couldn’t get his forearm off my neck. When he picked me up. I kicked. I fought. And when I got close enough to the wall, I kicked off it. And launched him against the futon.
I was 21.
I am now 37.
Did I leave? No. But the plan sped up for me to go! I remember my cousins coming to this house I was at and dragging me out of it. My mother hadn’t heard from me for 4 days. And they went to go and get me. As a mother now, of 2 daughters, I know exactly why they did it.
I didn’t tell them that he hit me.
I was almost a dead flower.
I eventually did leave. I broke up with him and when he asked why? I told him I couldn’t do this anymore.
In leaving abusive men, the most dangerous time is right after you leave them. He showed up at my work. He followed me home. I told no one. He stopped eventually, without police assistance. Looking back now, they may be killed him just for his size and Blackness.
I was one of the blessed ones.
My story went on. It goes on. The concern is for the women that don’t make it out. Even the men that don’t make it out of these situations alive. My attention this month is for those that didn’t get to keep going.
It is a frightening thing to be in bed with someone you know tried to kill you.
But you know if your plan is not in place, they may succeed. Even with *Adam, leaving the state. We still were friends with benefits. Can you imagine what I thought of myself? He still wouldn’t take the steps to make the relationship better! I loved him. Saw better in him. Yet, he wouldn’t give me the better parts of him. I wasn’t worth it to him. So, what would I even be worth to myself?!
I was almost a dead flower.
When these incidents occur in the news, I remember this. I get scared all over again and I tell no one. I didn’t know what healthy love looked like until I met Alejandro (read that three part series, The Able Unshakeable). That’s the dirty little secret, the deeper romantic tragedy of all this.
After you have gone through something like this, you don’t know what a healthy love or dynamic looks like. For a while, you don’t know how to be loved. Not that the concept of love is foreign, but it’s foreign to you!
It is possible to recover from an abusive relationship. It is possible to have a healthy, lasting relationship after the abusive one ends. It is possible to be whole, and happy again. I fought to get back to happy. I fought to regain what I lost with Adam. No amount of sex could erase the fact the same hands that opened and seduced me, tried to end my life. That made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.
And that still stings. It still hurts. Sometimes I get angry about it. But instead of bottling it up, I share. I tell my testimony. I give sympathy. Empathy. My life gives evidence that what he didn’t break me! My grave is still empty!
That experience let me become hyper vigilant of what it means to be a victim or to be victimized. It let me take off the blinders to human nature and behavior. It forced me to take stock of what I wanted and what my standards were–even if I had any!
It made me push to therapy for myself and my kids. It forced me to remember the word “No” is an entire sentence which does not need support or explanation.
The lingering memory of almost dying on the floor of a house I didn’t own makes me shudder and stiffen. I want to cry when I hear people say “They’re stupid! I’d just leave!” when told of what is going on in the lives of people they don’t know. Or may know.
Sometimes the dead flowers, wilt first. In the wilting, that’s the first sign they are dying. They need rescue and resources, not ridicule. Us, whom are alive and remain, occupying this garden called humanity, have to notice when the flowers are wilting. And all too often, ignore them when they die.
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