I'm sorry I haven't cleaned up ...(my own house) I'm sorry I haven't dried my hair ...(my own hair). I'm sorry I haven't cooked.. (my own food). I'm sorry I haven't bought stuff for the fridge ...(my fridge). I'm sorry I look awful ...(my own face and body). I'm sorry I haven't got changed out of my work clothes ...(my clothes, my work). I'm sorry I need more time ....(my time).
The person, whom I love, is sort of bemused. I apologise all the time. I apologise for things that just don't matter. I apologise for things that I probably can't or shouldn't change. I start a lot of sentences sorry.
Well I'm not bemused or amused. I am angry.
Even after all this time has passed (2 and 1/2 years) since I escaped my abuser, I subconsciously still carry that bloody unbearable memory around of constantly feeling like I have done something wrong. The fear that I will be found out for some unknowable trespass. The fear, really deep inside, that I am going to be punished. The feeling that I have to preempt any possible accusation or attack by countering it first. The fear that I'm not even aware of what I have done wrong but that it is bad. Digging around inside myself to find what it is that I might have said, or done, or misplaced, or forgotten to do. It doesn't seem to go away. It surfaces in "sorry".
Just last week I sent a text apologising for upsetting someone and therefore upsetting the person I was texting. I got back a text "You wally. You haven't!"
I hadn't. Only in my own head.
If you have been abused you will know.... you are constantly 3 steps ahead in any mind game. You have to be. You work out what you might have said and how it might be misconstrued and you work out in advance how to put right the thing that you think you may have done which will lead to you being accused of something you haven't done or can't remember.
That sounds very complex doesn't it?
It is. It is a lived nightmare. It is a daily dying. "Walking on eggshells" doesn't cover it and it is worse the longer it goes on. It is like you are wearing lead moonboots 4 sizes too big in a densely packed minefield with millimetres between each one. You've got no chance. You are going to step on one and it will explode. You just try to work out how to keep both boots raised at all times. You never realise that this is impossible. You just keep trying and falling over. And getting blown up. Have you ever played "Operation" and tried to get the bones out of the little holes without getting electrocuted? Same thing. Except they are your own bones knocking against the electric shock as you try to move them to safety.
Have you have ever waited and paced a kitchen and wondered...."What is it? Who might have said something against me? What has he found out? What haven't I done around the house? What might he see that he won't like? What haven't I hidden? What haven't I bought? How do I look? What have I forgotten to do? Who has seen me somewhere he won't like?"
There are other questions. Thousands of them. It paralyses you. You try to focus. You try again. You sharpen the lens you always have trained on yourself. You bend yourself into the shape he likes. All kinds of ways. You try different shapes. You try different jobs. Or 2 jobs. He likes you best with no job. You are of course useless with no job. A drain. A burden. You try different friends. He likes you best with no friends. You are of course not worthy of friends. They don't like you. People don't like you. You should change. You should stop changing. All this whirrs around your brain as you try to think of the next 3 moves.
Then he comes back. Late. early. Both are bad. Your heart stops. Your children stop. The walls hold their breath and brace themselves. The world outside turns away. You didn't have time to get it all right. You didn't calibrate yourself perfectly. The click of the fridge. The pull of the can. He's cocked and loaded. You're under fire.
This is no way to live. It isn't living. I was dead for a very long time.
I am living a beautiful life now. I wake up and smile at the sky. No reason. Total happy madness. Clouds drift past and I laugh inside. I can hear the traffic start and know that I can get out in that world and feel it with my fingers and love it. I do love it all so very much. Some mornings a loved one is beside me and we talk and read and laugh and plan. A life. I am planning a life. Not how to escape a death. I have done nothing wrong and I deserve that future.
So I am not sorry. I am not sorry for that man's behaviour. I'm not sorry because he broke parts of me. I'm not sorry that it will take time to fix. I'm not sorry that I'm angry at a world that allows men to break women and girls.
Women. You have done nothing wrong. He lies. You have said nothing wrong. He lies. You have forgotten nothing. He lies. Your friends love you dearly. He lies. Your family think the world of you. He lies. He is not perfect. He lies. He is not good. He lies. You don't deserve his mistreatment. He lies. You aren't ugly. He lies. You aren't stupid. He lies. You aren't crazy. He lies.
He is a liar and you deserve the truth.
I am not sorry.