2019 felt like my last hurdle. By Christmas, I had recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I knew that the last time I had a PTSD related anxiety attack was April 2017 and was in a really good head space. Finally, I felt like it was my time. However, 2020 had other ideas, for all of us.
It would be practically impossible for anyone, no matter where they are in the world, to not know about COVID-19. This global pandemic has much of the world’s population on lockdown. How strict that lockdown is depends where you live. Where I live, the state police force are issuing fines for all non-essential travel.
Most of my posts have been about the aftermath of my relationship with Brent. I’ve written very little about my life with him, only really the night that I left.
My family and majority of my friends live a minimum of two hours drive from me. Travelling to see them would very unlikely be considered ‘essential travel’. Whilst I can talk to them over the phone and in video calls, this social distancing experience has brought back so many negative memories that I had all but forgotten.
As I write this, I am realising why I don’t write much about my actual life with Brent. I am constantly reminding myself to breathe, telling myself aloud “we’re ok”, there are tears running down my face and my body feels overly tense.
Every day, Brent would come home from work, take my phone and check my browser history, my text messages and my call logs. There was no social media for him to check, as he’d already made me deactivate all platforms. If he could see I’d phoned a family member, he’d interrogate me until I recited every word from the conversation.
I had already lost most of my friends. The male friends, because Brent had an insane jealousy towards them, he’d even made me change my phone number to ensure they couldn’t contact me. The female friends, looking back, it’s quite hurtful that their solution to my trauma was to pretend it wasn’t happening. After I’d left him, I recall a then close friend saying “I was walking past your street, I thought I heard you screaming ‘stop’…but I didn’t know what to do”. That there is the issue. Domestic Violence is too faux pas to many and so, they do nothing.
Eight years ago…
Eight years ago today, I confirmed to my sister that what she had feared, was happening. I was in a domestic violent relationship. I highly doubt that I said those those exact words, but what I did say, was enough for her.
Brent had lost it at me about something. I can’t recall what it was as so many things were trivial, I suppose the reasons he would find to be angry at me is a blog for another day. He did what he’d always do when he was angry; tear out the driveway and ignore my contact for as long as he wanted whilst texting me and making me believe I was at fault.
Earlier that day, whilst Brent was at work, my sister dropped by. She lived a little over an hour away back then and was in town for dinner with some old friends. I had known the ladies she was with that night since I was five. I suppose that’s why I was a little less fearful contacting her to ask if she was still around. They invited me to join them for dessert and I obliged.
I sat fairly quietly in that restaurant. The conversation seemed to continue as it was before I’d arrived. Some of these women had seen domestic violence in their own lives. Perhaps they knew there was no point pushing me and that some normal life experience was what I needed at that time. Some of my life was spoken about, it was suggested that I stay with my sister that night.
I don’t know why, I chose to go home to Brent that night.
He refused to sleep in our bed. I had done something wrong and ‘disgusted’ him. He slept in the spare bedroom. That week, I was in the middle of painting the living room, so, the lounge was in the spare room as well. I’ll likely never remember what was going through my mind, however, after pleading with him to come to our bed, him physically stopping me from laying in the spare bed with him and stopping me from sleeping on the couch, I slept on the floor that night.
The next day, I had a planned spa day with my sister, mother and grandmother. Ironically, vouchers for the best spa in town were a Christmas gift from Brent, something he’d purchased for me before he’d turned into the monster I’d come to know. After a few hours at the spa, we had lunch in a local restaurant with the most amazing views over a valley. There is a photo of the four of us from that lunch. I had not slept a wink. I had cried and pleaded to Brent for what had felt like all night long. Every time I see that photo, I want to shake that girl, what stopped her from leaving him that night?
Those who know me, know that I bruise easily and rarely can I explain how I end up with my limbs covered in bruises. However, back then, I knew what “that hand shape looking bruise” was but made excuses to mum every single time she saw one and asked. I had excuses for everything he did, for every friend I didn’t speak to, for every social occasion I’d missed, for every text message I deleted and pretended I never received. My life was focused on keeping Brent in a calm state. There wasn’t any room in my life for what I wanted.
It wasn’t until July, 3 months later, that I finally left him. Brent had applied for a firearms license some time in June. I know that my family lived in fear every single day that they could lose me to his violence. Reflecting now, even through these involuntary tears, I just said out aloud to myself “what the hell was I thinking?”