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The Long Road Home

I will end you tonight.
No, wait.
That's not where the story starts.
The story starts two and a half years before this, when Michelle (referred to as Michelle for legal reasons because SATAN was too heavily trademarked) reached out to me by Facebook.

She mentioned that we played the same Facebook game and she wanted to say hi.
I had never, in fact, even heard of the Facebook game. But I was freshly broken out of a relationship and she was pretty with a good body so I said "Hurr, okay."

Conversation ensues. She tells me we came up in the same place.
We did not come up in the same place. We spent one night in San Francisco talking. But I really wanted to sleep with her. So, "Hurr, okay."

Fast forward a few months. I've left Missouri for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I've settled into the ass end of Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle. The apartment was so bad that the landlord wrote the mold on the wall off as "crayon coloring". Seriously I don't know how I'm still alive.

Anyway, Michelle explodes one morning over missing pizza. This is our first real spat. "What," she screams, "Do you just wait till someone trusts you before you show them your bad side?"

Her teenaged son ate the pizza. He said as much. That was the end of that. But again, I was still in that phase of the relationship where everything was food and OMG THAT RACK THOUGH so I was like "Hurr, okay."

December 2010. Maybe 11, maybe 09. Trauma has a way of bending time. The spats have increased. They're somewhat random and almost always over nothing. I made my mistakes, but I didn't think buying a certain sort of peanut butter qualified as turning her daughter against her. Turns out that almost all of her exes worked her over or are in the criminal justice system or blah blah blah. Not trivializing her trauma, I'm not even sure today how much of it is true. But she did have to endure some harsh realities. In hopes of getting through that my lust I mean love is true, I ask her what I can do. "Well, marry me and I'll trust you."

That sounds like a great idea!

Never been married before, let's do that!
The court-based wedding was a good day. One of my oldest friends came down to be best man (and was kind enough to ask if I knew what the hell I was doing) and food was had. It was a good day.

Then, everything changed.
I began to see that the good person was the facade and the monster was who she really was. Now, I was no bargain. I was broken in my own ways, very type A and combative, and just a general joy to be around. Our personalities did not mix.
Her rage would manifest every Thursday. I always knew it was coming because her skin was pale and her eyes were like mirrors. When there was nothing in her eyes, it was time for war. 

Now, I'd been in combative relationships for most of my life. I was born and raised into one. So the yelling, screaming, name-calling, that was just another day of the week. But the hitting started about three months later.

I remember thinking are you serious? Like, you know I used to fight for a living, right? You really wanna hit me?
Well, she did. She really did wanna hit me. And she was about my size so her hits did not lack power.
There was no telling what would start it off. Any little thing at work. The fact that her daughter and I were getting close. Or the groceries not put away a certain way. My favorite was Well a real man would love to get up early to make breakfast for his wife. Yeah, showing this woman that I could cook turned out to be the best idea *ever*.

You know, if you take any sort of punishment long enough, it becomes normal. You love the good moments and that's how insidious abuse is. You love those good moments because they don't come around very often. And when the bad times come, they're worse. And they're always your fault. See what you made me do?! Yeah, it turns out the movies are inspired by real life. Who knew?

At first, I tried to roll with it. I've been taking beatings my whole life, right? I've been taking beatings since I was five. My first memory in life is a beating. WHAT'S. ONE. MORE?!
If her beating on me kept her from going off on her daughter (which became another threat, although to be fair she never did) then so be it. And sooo many nights I would take a beating into oblivion, to where she was exhausted and breathing heavy. By then, the apologies stopped. This was just the way it was.

Eventually, I snapped. I don't have to hit you to hurt you, I said, but if you come at me again, I'm gonna defend myself--where'd you get that knife?!

Yes, that's when crazy Saiyan level two came out. In the form of blades. Sometimes she got me, sometimes not. But at least the apologies returned.
By now, my friends know what's going on and are concerned about my safety. Can't imagine why.

But to make things all better, I got her pregnant.
Niyana Vera Tingle.
Stillborn February 2, 2013. I remember because I pleaded with God to give me some kind of sign that He hadn't forgotten me and the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl and I had never cried so hard in my life. 

She broke completely and went into a mental institution. I got to plan my daughter's cremation while fielding a call from said institution telling me that she was trying to escape. So the next time you think you're having a bad day...

She conned her way out. Neither one of us cared if we lived or died at that point.
I will end you tonight.
Okay, now we're caught up.
See, Michelle was crazy. I knew that, she knew that. The doctors knew that. But she wasn't stupid. She never left evidence.
Never put it in writing.
All bets were off with that message that flashed across my phone screen sent from the back bedroom of our apartment like some horror movie.
Now I had proof.
Now she had nothing to lose.
And she hunted me that night, too. She controlled everything. The finances, the phones, all of it. She'd turned the network off so I couldn't call out. All of my clothes were in the bedroom, behind her. I was barely dressed. I'd hoped to ride it out until I saw her shadow in the hallway because she was watching me waiting for me to fall asleep.
I sent out a prayer via Facebook to one friend, asking him to get in touch with another friend who worked with 911 dispatch. The same friend who'd warned me about this.
So, being a grown man with more than twenty years of martial arts experience, I ran for my life.
One shoe, no shirt, something that barely qualified as pants and lovely Seattle weather. I ran for my damn life. The police station was only a mile away. She couldn't drive but I didn't know if she was chasing me. I just ran. I would've ran all night if I'd had too.
But I made it to the police station. Finally, they believed me. I'd only called twenty or thirty times before.
They arrested her. She was no longer allowed to be alone with me. The divorce was long, bitter, and brutal, just like our marriage, but in the end, I paid a small sum of money, she got charged with a few crimes (including cyberstalking) and slapped with a restraining order.

I never saw her again. She would still try to reach out via text or social media, but the last time was maybe four months ago.

You don't really recover from something like this. You learn to live with it. Life is different now and so much better. I'm a mess, but the good kind of mess. I have a stable support system. Good people around me. Everything is, for the most part, okay.

I don't know what the stats are for the LGBTQ+. I imagine it's worse.

No human being deserves to feel unsafe at home. If you think you're in a toxic relationship, you probably are. Know the signs, because it never starts off bad. Victim grooming is subtle. Narcissists spin webs like spiders. It almost always starts out as the most positive thing in the world, to create the illusion. Then the problems begin. Promises to keep the illusion going when paradise begins to fray. Marry me and I'll trust you.

When things go bad there's always the apology and promise that it never happens again. Less than one percent of the time, it doesn't actually happen again. Everyone else becomes a statistic.

If you believe you've been a victim of domestic violence do not stay silent. Abusers thrive on control. There are a lot of resources available to you if you need to get out in a hurry. You can contact me and I'll do what I can for you, in confidence.
I got out.
You can too.

Thanks for reading.

This will be the final post on the Road Home, and this will remain a pinned post for anyone who needs help. Thank you all for reading and following the journey thus far. Please forgive me for self-destructing two years ago. I've learned, and I have all new titles coming next year. Watch Facebook and Twitter for announcements. There's also a private group for readers on Facebook if you'd like to go behind the scenes, and Patreon will be going live 11/15/2019.
God bless, be safe, and thanks for being here.


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