Six years of Black Eyes, Six Years of Lessons

I remember the first time I saw him.

I luckily landed myself in an all girls public school for high school, that my mom made me go to. I wasn’t a fan as you would imagine. There were about 500 of us in the freshman class back in 2000. I did find my crew though and they were in the grade above mine. Someone well above my grade level was the only young man I saw , roaming around the high school hallways. Junior was contracted there on union to install the windows. There were about 6 or 7 of them, and he was the only young one, the only Puerto Rican one, and most important, the only handsome one. Sooki sooki now. His face was chiseled and had one of those lines like Craig David. He was very thin, tall, had a bit of a smug attitude about him, but back then, I liked that stuff. I’d pretend to have some class near where he was working, just to catch a glimpse of him. Him and his baby blue ‘Ecko Red’ Shirt hanging all the way down to his knees. To me, at 15, that was very very sexy.

So pleather pants happened several times a week in my world. and tight jeans, the kind you lay down to put on that lines across your jeans at the thighs form further cutting off your circulation. I went from Tom boy Xena freak, nun wanna be for a while, to Jlo is my savior in a very short amount of time.

Don’t forget the hoops and lip liner okay?

Things well, they progressed between me and Junior. He ended up getting transferred to another job site. Why? Because I was 15 and he was 20 and we got caught by the assistant Principal. I think someone told on us. I was a student and he worked there, but not before the two of us had been seeing each other for several months, that was the reason why he got transferred.

And one kid later, the rest was history. 

 Two years later, It was my 17th birthday. I was pregnant, inlove and just happy, puppy love happy. We went to Chilli’s for dinner over in University City and walked back in silence. If I recall, I was annoyed that we hadn’t been spending much time together. I think, its hard to remember.

We started arguing, who knows about what in truth, funny how you never really remember specifics. We take the argument to the bedroom. he takes an open water bottle and throws it at me. Then, gives me a nice firm knock this pregnant lady over kinda push. He knocked me clear off my feet, and then to top it off, when I was on the ground, he spit on me.  I remember what I was wearing even. A flowery maternity shirt and jean shorts capturing my fertile naivety.

I was soaked, spit on, and feeling pretty fucking stupid.

Happy Birthday.

After that push, I didn’t know yet consciously, but on a God level, it was over before it had ever begun. I never really came back to fullness after that. I never really trusted not just him, but what became all men for a long while. I retreated to my inner safety after that.

The baby came, all 9 pounds, 11 ounces, and 2 feet of him and I was still in denial. The violent pushes turned to shakes and grip ups after Damien was born. That turned to slaps and eventually, punches, kicks and tumbles down the stairs.

So this is where I’m at, rockin’ the battered woman label? I thought to myself. Talk about stigmas, wear that label for a while. Even as a youngin’ I just never would’ve pictured that in my life, because I had judgements about it back then. I imagine that most people that endure abuse of that nature, don’t picture that in their lives.

Now at this point in the story, I am 19, and I remember leaving the house on the way to Community College, my son in tow,  black eye or busted lip. In Port Richmond Philly. Back then, half of the neighborhood would sit on their front stoop or porch, 40 or smoke in hand, just hanging out usually loudly. Their kids in just T-shirts and diapers running around on the street. This is just how it was back then, when I lived there and I don’t know about now.

I pass each neighbor one by one hanging out on their front porch, knowing that my sunglasses aren’t covering my bruises. Knowing that they can see. And knowing that I’d be judged.

Why I Stayed.

I stayed determined to wait for this concept of my mind of what he ‘needed’ which was his ‘big transformation’. I wasn’t at a place then to say, whats missing in me in order to stay with someone that would hit me? I saw his pain and I wanted to care for him. Nurture him back to ‘wholeness’, that whole motherly, feminine thing thats really sometimes a form of unconscious manipulation if its not coming from an unconditional place. I didn’t see any problem or flaw within my thinking of wanting to change someone’s behavior. After all, I wasn’t abusing anyone, I wasn’t the one CHEATING, I thought to myself back then. Sexual monogamy was a big MUST for me back then and was not up for discussion. In my mind, it was him that needed to be nurtured back to good health, not me. Was there love there?Conditional love, in other words, Love with strings.

And of course staying failed miserably in terms of making it work, and yet it was totally relevant to my story that I stayed as long as I did. The God of me wanted me there. I suffered during that time, there was a ton of suffering well past the bruises, the emotional kind and the kind of suffering that I was disgusted with what I had allowed myself to become. The victim. And eventually, I got tired of suffering, at least from that kind of suffering. I didn’t know what to expect week to week. Sometimes it was one comment that would set him off. Other times there were weeks maybe even a few months of us having a grand ole’ time, getting along. I want to say the breaking point was just this sudden realization, that I loved myself a lot, I want to say that was what it was that snapped me back. But it didn’t. 

My attachment then was to the happy family unit. Having a kid and not making it work was not in my understanding. Having a kid and not getting married also, wasn’t in my understanding either.

It Ran It’s Course

It took a psychic telling me that he’d never change. I walked into the nightshift at my Nurse Extern Job. At this point, I was in Nursing school, on my 6 month externship at night time, and I used my job at night as an escape from the conflict at home. The woman, Jackie had just had heart surgery. She seemed to be in a very intense conversation.

Jackie: You are so beautiful, she gushes in her South Philly Italian and proud, oh so familiar accent.

Me: Thank you, I squeak, instantly blush and help her from the commode back to the bed.

That was Argentina actually. I’m a psychic, I do missing persons cases for children across the world.

Me: OHHHhhhh, one of those yeah right Oh’s give me a break, but I tried to make it convincing. Ohhhhhhh.

She didn’t seem to notice.

Jackie: For me it goes by touch. I squeeze her arm just a little tighter as I proceed to take her blood pressure trying to hear for a clear diastolic beat.

She continues to spell out Damien’s dads name, Damien’s name and gives me a synopsis of my relationship all the way down to the physical abuse. She read me like a book. Now my face is crimson red and I’m shaking.

That day he just so happened to total my car, I got the call about an hour after my time with my psychic patient.

The day I made the decision, I took a bus to Atlantic City, I drank a 6 pack, won 800 bucks on a slot machine and stayed overnight alone. I hadn’t had so much fun in a while. I thought ya know I could really do this by myself thing. I could get used to this. 

I was about 21 at this point. That was the first time as an adult, that the world that I thought, was not what it actually what I was experiencing. That was the first time where I got to watch my vision of perfection crumble.

And  to think it took a psychic.

Boy did I learn. I learned about me. I learned about the supressed pain of many men that they carry for lifetimes that comes out as anger, and I learned that I could be alone and raise a kid, and I let go of how I thought it looked to everyone.

Back then, if you told me life would be here, now at 33, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet I would’ve been curious to know more. Because God was there through all of it and I felt it. I remember sitting in bed, sobbing, maybe Damien was 2, Please God allow me to let him go, if this isn’t right, help me to see, help me to let him go. And God sent me a psychic to help out with that apparently.

The Weight of the Past

I really thought I healed my perception of this portion of my life. I really thought I had forgiven myself for staying and enduring all of what I did. I thought I forgave myself for feeling like a victim. But I hadn’t. I carried those past stories towards every man I met without realizing it.

So all these years later, this came up. on the bathroom floor as it always did.

The flashes, there were so many flashes that crossed into my awareness. The broken bones, the times I didn’t know if I’d live or die. Every single event that had ever happened, that I hadn’t forgiven, was right there for me to mend. I did. I healed as much of me as I could that night. I healed the 15 year old girl looking for love outside of herself.  And I completely forgave what was never even mine to forgive. I forgave the illusion that he could hurt me. I forgave my misperception of who he was. I forgave myself for loving him with strings attached and I forgave the fact that I forgot that he and I are not separate from each other.

I forgave it over a decade later thinking it was healed years ago. 

We like a storehouse, carry the weight of the past with us. It’s completely unconscious. We meet a woman, and really what we see is all of the behaviors from other women, all of the judgements we made on others before the person standing before us. The abuse that I endured is just one example of a heavy list of past stories that I was carrying in my awareness. When its forgiven, you free yourself. I saved my world when I changed my mind about it. I changed my mind about what I thought I saw within Junior and within myself. I now see only growth. I see a necessary part of my story. I see a woman now that has a boundless amount of compassion and love to give, and that began from viewing my partner and all of his suffering, and enduring my own. For him, the deep anger that he felt had become him. I continue to work on accepting the anger that I have had, and have felt. For Junior, he wasn’t able to find peace in this lifetime. He wasn’t able to find forgiveness for himself and others in this lifetime. His sadness, his pain, went to a level of taking his own life years later, in 2015.

I work on embracing the aspects of Junior that have been a hidden part of me everyday. My journey is his journey…

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