PUBLISHED IN THE VIEW MAGAZINE, UK. JUNE 2020
She asked me where it came from.
And I realised I had no idea.
I still don’t.
It’s just sort of always been there.
It’s not the example I got from my parent’s relationship… and it’s not as simple as pointing to that tune by The Lox featuring Eve (which I love by the way).
It’s not Eastenders or The Bill, Unholy War by Amy Winehouse, or the big sisters that used to come down to the school gate to “batter” those who had picked on their younger siblings.
So it must be older, certainly entrenched, and easily mistaken for intuition.
It’s like a birthmark I never noticed.
She made a note.
“Die.” I said.
Ride or die.
At first I was flirting.
I think I was talking about my masculine side, my brothers, how we used to play “slapsies” and he suggested that we play…
And he said,
“but just so you know, I’m good”
and I was intrigued. It was thrilling:
the prospect of not being clad in bubble wrap, put on a pedestal- pristine,
handled as if I might break: the virgin the mother the wife.
Electricity traversed my insides,
my spine felt alive,
my breath was thick.
I felt like a larger version of myself,
like maybe he would explore the messier parts of me
he would love them.
Our fingertips kissed.
I liked his hands. My mouth was wet and he slapped me.
The first slap felt like whip lash.
Flash backs of a car crash, (aged 5?),—my mind spluttered and stammered into infinite pieces to avoid what was.
What was, was…
burning back of hand, bone moaning, mouth now rye bread dry, swallows hard, tries not to look like I’m about to cry.
Rearrange my slip dress in my chair. Feels like another life time ago I c a r e f u l l y
picked it out with Marthie’s help, discussed my hair
what jewelry I should wear
“You alright?” he grins teeth.
“Yeah!” (lies)… “come on. That all you got?”
I made a decision there and then to erase that very odd and awkward interlude during what was one of the best second dates I’d ever had.
It was only slapsies– didn’t mean a thing.
Except of course, yeah… now I can see it.
How I consciously ignored the seeding, even fertilized the fucking thing.
But like… slapsies was a blueprint, or a red flag, or some other metaphor involving a color.
I just didn’t think that he would ever put his hands on me for real.
“Do you think you were trying to have a corrective experience?”
“No” I said. “Wait… actually I don’t know what that means.”
“Like part of you, the wounded part who had already experienced, well…”
she flips back pages in her notebook,
“a number of encounters with violence and assault already, that perhaps a small part of you saw this as an opportunity to redo some of that. Rewrite the narrative.”
A corrective experience.
“I don’t think so.
I don’t know.
I don’t think so actually no.”
“Can you tell me about the loyalty piece?”
“Yes.” I said.
“It’s like… I can’t have anyone chatting shit about my man, you know? Not even me.”
“I see” she nods.
More note taking.
“Like I’m his, and being his means I show up for him no matter what. If someone has beef with him they have beef with me. And I wanted, I so, soo wanted to just focus on the awesome things about him. I loved those things. I loved him. FUCKSAKE.
He always said I had trouble forgiving him, and he was right…
the stuff with other women, I could rarely let go of that stuff for very long.
But the violence? I buried it.
Deep in dirt and planted rose bushes on top. Pruned and watered them on a regular and would send him red petals from my chest.
And look… rationally, intellectually, spiritually, I know this paradigm is nonsensical. The opposite of what I’d want my daughter to attach herself to…
I know. I know this. But I don’t understand why it has such firm roots.
It feels familiar, grounded inside of me, part of what makes me- me.
Part of what makes me proud to be me, actually. Ride or die me, through and through me, always in your corner me, bla bla bla.”
I feel like throwing the cushion at the wall.
“There are things I’ll never forget.
And things I cannot remember.
Like… when exactly in the morning he finally left
or how I got my baby to school.
I remember taking tea to Rose though.
Telling her what happened in the bathroom but leaving out what happened in the bed.
Because. For this: you need thick bleach and euphemisms, right?”
“Right.” She sighs, glances at the clock.