Flashback on Flashback
October- November 2013.
Just like it became impossible for me to lock my truth back up after I spoke it,
it became impossible for him to lock back up his ‘other side’ once his friends had seen it.
After I finally told my best friend what was happening, she set me straight. Germans don’t waste time on sugared words- they tell you how it is, and her blunt logic has always been the perfect dose of ‘just what I need’.
After spending her stay observing a number of Eric’s bizarre breakdowns (that he was suddenly not affraid of hiding), she reminded me of something that I had forgotten- that I was too strong of a person to be living like this.
I knew I had to get away from him, but I had already tried to leave without prevail. I knew he wouldn’t let me just walk away.
Besides, I couldn’t just walk away even if I thought I could pull it off- I was stuck in a brand new, shiny lease. I replayed signing the apartment lease back in my head as if I was Ariel signing away her voice to Ursella in The Little Mermaid (cue a dramatic musical build-up, hesitation, and then ultimately signing away everything in hopes of pegging Prince Charming).
After briefly hemming and hawing, I decided my only option was to wait the lease out. If I could just sit pretty, smile on command, and keep my opinionated mouth shut I could make it the remaining 11 months semi-unscathed. Then, I could slip away and leave Maryland without a word. If I was able to pull it off, he would never be able to find me- I would be free.
But, my 50’s housewife routine was over faster than you can say ‘pot roast’ (something that I assure you was never made). It turns out I am much too hard headed and honest to play a role. I ended up spilling out a breakup without much thought of what the aftermath might be.
I really didn’t want to chance it all, but I couldn’t hold it in. Just like that my fantasy of running away was getting flushed down the toilet with my word vomit.
Something strange happened this time around, though. Instead of threats and violence, he was apologetic and submissive. I knew it was all a front to get me back, but I hoped I might be able to leverage it to keep me from random punches in my sleep (we were still living together, after all).
So, it turns out I did end up playing a role.
He didn’t tell his friends we had broken up, so when they were around I acted as if nothing had happened. In return, he didn’t drunkenly place his hands on me. It was a strange dance we danced as we continued on with our unspoken agreement.
I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I could stay on course with my original plan. At this point it would only be 10 months of playing nice before I could slip away.
It seemed doable.
Then, I met Jackson- all plans went to hell.
From our first conversation I knew he was trouble. Trouble for my plan, that is.
I tried to keep my distance from him- I really did- but whenever he cracked a clever joke and smiled... Homeboy was gonna like... get it (**internal Bella Hadid voice**).
Still, I refrained... At least until he step by step knocked down all my ‘don’t-date-homeboy’ defenses. First, he slid in my FB messages (Yes, this was before the days of IG DMing), I then proceeded to give him my number when he politely asked, and finally I agreed to go to a movie with him.
I just couldn’t help myself.
After that, I was with him constantly. Not only did we work together, but every moment we weren’t working I was with him, as well.
Jackson being such a big part of my life seemingly overnight did not go well.
Eric stayed true to his word of trying to ruin my life.
When I tried to leave the apartment, he would run out and lay beneath the tires of my car to prevent me from leaving... When I managed to leave he would track me down in the most random of places... When I didn’t come home at an acceptable hour I was tracked down and ran off the road.... When I drove into work with Jackson, we were followed and screamed at in the parking lot.... The list goes on.
When I begged him to leave the apartment, he refused. When I begged him to sleep on the couch, he refused. When I pleaded with him to just let me live my life, he refused.
So, I tried to keep what little peace there was left to keep.
I’ve never hated someone at the same time as wanting the best for them, but here I was hating him for what he had done/ was still doing to me while not wanting to see him crumble.
One day, Eric and I sat in the apartment together alone. It was not a good place for me to be, but I was sure I would be fine in the sober light of day.
At first, I was right. We sat and made idle yet positive small talk with ease.
But, all good things must come to an end, right? And, they did.
Within the blink of an eye, as these situations usually occurred, he changed. Before I knew it, casual talk of this-and-thats had transformed into him yelling at me about Jackson.
He pushed me around for a bit screaming at me, and left the room to go to the kitchen. I got up to go when he started screaming how he was going to eat my lasagna.
My lasagna? Yes... My lasagna.... You see... That lasagna was not just any lasagna... (trigger me currently dying as I have to explain the significance this lasagna had to me back in 2013)
It was the last thing an extremely poor 20-year-old had to eat (aka me). I was working part time for minimum wage and paying all my bills (aka I was beyond broke). Eric knew this when he spitefully took the microwave meal and playfully waved it in my face.
When he took the last of my food and told me there was nothing I could do about it, he was, in my mind, emphasizing how I couldn’t do anything about any of the number of things he had been doing to me.
And, he was right. I hadn’t been able to do anything about any of it.
I begged for him not to eat the stupid lasagna when I should have just tried to get out while I could.
The lasagna was never his concern, it was only used as a statement. A statement of, “I do what I want, when I want, and there is nothing you can do to stop me” (in fact words very similar to those that had been yelled at me).
Before I knew it, he had abandoned the lasagna, and I was thrown down onto the hallway floor. With his weight on top of me holding me down, he bent down even further to scream directly in my face. I couldn’t process a word he was saying, and then splat... He spit right in my face.
Out of everything Eric had ever done to me I cannot explain why him spitting in my face was so significant to me. Over the span of our relationship he had slapped me, thrown me on the ground, choked me until my eyes rolled back, punched me, told me he was going to kill me, etc... etc...
But spitting in my face? It, more than the othes, had caught me off guard.
Almost as much as the knocking at the front door that soon followed.
Eric went and answered the door, and the Police stood on the other end.
I stood with my pajamas askew, makeup smeared down my face, tears still welled in my eyes, and my hair pulled in every conceivable direction.
I wiped Eric’s saliva from my face,
but everything that had just happened was still plastered across it.