The Takeaway

I had a normal day today, or as normal as a day can be when you spend the morning at the doctor getting vials of blood drawn and giving samples of seemingly every substance my body is capable of producing. But the afternoon saw errands! Cleaning! Painting! Food? No. But I ate this morning (I think?) so fuck it. Then, after a long day wondering whether "rule out" and "precautionary" means I do or do not have cancer, I actually went to bed at a reasonable hour.  Then an hour ago I woke up in a cold sweat after having what had been a recurring nightmare and I guess still is a recurring nightmare.

Yeah, my boyfriend sliced me with a chefs knife, and he got arrested and will see trial for it, but it is not this that haunts my waking days and infiltrates my dreams. Do you know how sharp a brand new professional chefs knife is? It's razor sharp, and when he cut me I didn't even feel it but rather just kept screaming and crying for him to leave and pushing him off of me. It wasn't until he brandished the same knife in my direction and asked me if I wanted some more did I see the blood dripping down my arm and wondered if I was about to die.

I feel like it's almost funny that I'm about to say "the really scary part was..." because one might think that pondering their own mortality at the hands of their boyfriend doesn't really get beat in scariness, but this was not the scariest part. Rather I keep remembering him, a few minutes before he got the knife, shoving me into a wall, evading one of my swings and grabbing me by both arms and forcing me onto the floor slamming my back against the ground and shaking me while screaming something in my face I can't remember. Even in the nightmare version I can't make out what he's saying, but rather can only hear a tinny vocal interference over my own pleas to leave me alone. In reality, I had my eyes closed while this happened--I remember feeling the tears well up beneath my eyelids and realizing he was too strong for me to fight back--but this is what makes the nightmare version so frightening, because my mind fills in all of these visual details.

And dreams are weird, aren't they? This one is no exception, because even though there are things happening in the dream that I know didn't happen--like watching the scene from outside myself as a third party or even being able to see it at all--it just seems so real. Hence the waking in the cold sweats.

Everyone keeps asking me about how I plan to move on, about what I've learned from all of this, but as I had already ruminated and this nightmare returning has proved, I'm just not there yet. But what the fuck am I supposed to have learned? A month into our relationship he had taken to screaming at me every single day. Usually for hours. Was I supposed to know then? When he tried to ban me from speaking to any of my ex-boyfriends a couple of months later? How about six months later when he grabbed me for the first time, when I was trying to leave for work and he's yelling, and he gripped my arm so fiercely I wore his fingerprints for hours? These things just seemed like something to work on. A problem to be fixed. I thought that this was exactly what was happening but I wonder now if the only thing that changed was my will to oppose him, and then in the same moment I'm not even willing to let myself think that because it would really mean that he never even tried to love me.

I'm desperate for the "next time I'll do this" and the "I wont do that again", but this and that isn't exactly black and white, and then the whole relationship seems only to hang on the rules I laid out for him last summer after he chased me through Willamsburg stoned, crazed, and screaming.
So I suppose I already composed my takeaway last June:

You are not my jailer, master, or Sargent.
You cannot force me to do your will.
You cannot grab me.
You cannot shake me.
You cannot shove me.
You cannot scream at me when you are upset with someone else.
You cannot expect me to agree with you all of the time.
You cannot abandon me and expect me to still want you.
You will not make me your plaything and your possession.
You will not be my nightmare.

I can live without you.


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