If only you knew
The things I have been through
If you only you knew
That I have been abused.
The words taste like acid in my mouth,
But I will not be ashamed
I will say them aloud
Because you had no idea,
Did you now?

If only you knew
That this man is someone you know
Someone who works in this building
In a lab just three floors below.
If only you knew
That I am scared to walk in every morning
That I jump every time my phone rings.
That nowhere is safe anymore
Because this is a man
Who has been charged before.
A man with violence
Rooted in his very core.

If only you knew
That this man put his hands on me
When I told him not to.
If only you knew
The twisted things he would do.
That he has hurt me
In every way he could find
If only you knew
About that horrible night
When he became a monster right before my eyes
That he was so full of rage
Even the cops came.
And since then,
Nothing will ever be the same.

So I apologize
If sometimes I forget things
Or to follow minor rules of our lab
But I have been a little busy
Trying to not get attacked.
So please don’t yell
And please don’t be mean
Because I have spent months
Trying to stand on my own two feet.

So now you know
The hell I have been through
But don’t cast your doubts
I will still fight
And I will find a way out
But I ask you to be kind
Because you had no idea,
Did you now?

 

I wrote this poem several months ago addressed to all the other students and postdocs in my lab – the people I see everyday and who have become like brothers and sisters. Over the last year, they have gotten annoyed with me several times – for forgetting to do things, not putting things back where they belong, forgetting to follow general lab rules. Although sometimes it feels like we are family, they have no idea why I sometimes make these mistakes, why I am so on edge all the time. They have no idea that I was involved in an abusive relationship with another student who works in our building. They have no idea he threatened me, put me down constantly, tried to hit me with his belt, pushed me out his door and down his steps, that the cops came the night we broke up, that he spent months harassing me after it ended, and I have been scared everyday coming to campus. They have no idea.

Maybe I could have told them. Maybe I should have told them. But I was scared. I was scared I would lose everything, although some days I feel like I already have. Either way, I have kept my mouth shut.

Sometimes I wish I took a risk and told one or two of them. I don’t know if it would have helped anything, but on days like today, I regret my silence. Today we went to one of the restaurants/bars I went to many times with my abuser. We were celebrating that one of the students graduated and got an amazing job offer. It should have been a joyous occasion, and I do have fun with these people and really enjoy being with them. But the last time I was at this bar was with my abuser on one of the worst nights of my life.

I tried to push the memories and flashbacks aside today. But it was no use; they were too strong. The memories played on a loop in mind, reliving the fear, the fights, the screams, while everyone else remained oblivious. I sat there trying to smile and laugh, trying to be normal and hide the pain that was consuming every crevice of my mind. I tried to be numb for as long as I could, until I got home and let the tears flow until my eyes were swollen shut.

The memories are painful, yes. But I think what really hurt the most was that these people I care about had no idea what was going on in my mind. They don’t know my pain because I never told them. And for a while I was annoyed with them because of this (which you may sense based on the tone in this poem). But today I realized that it was never their fault they didn’t know. It was mine.

I’m not here to tell you that you should go tell everyone your story. That’s not fair and I know that advice would have made me angrier than anything several months ago. But I will tell you that today I wished with everything in me that I had been honest with them. That I could have found the courage to speak my truth.

I have said it before and I will say it again: silence is suffocating. Don’t let fear get the better of you, like it did with me. Your voice has power, as does your story. It’s never too late to speak.

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19 thoughts on “Regrets

  1. You brave soul!
    Thank you for sharing this personal and painful story . That shit-bag of an excuse of a human being is a tortured idiot. His darkness is far deeper than you can imagine.
    Now, about you- you need to HEAL- and start that process as soon as you can. No-one can tell you what to do- you’re in control.
    In my case, I walked away from everything that was in the orbit of my tormentor. I had (and still have) only one thought- “i want my life back-if I die today, let it be on my own terms- with a smile on my face.”
    So, scared as hell- i began to rebuild my life step by step. I’m happy to be free. The price of emotional freedom is worth every ounce of your life. Otherwise- you’re just the walking dead (dead inside- with a plastic smile for the world).
    I wish you all the best. Don’t let that cowardly slime steal any more of your precious life.
    I bet the idiot can’t stand up to a man. Vile fool.
    Oh dear- didn’t mean to rant…… Just Take Care. Be strong…. start taking your life back- you’ve only got ONE.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sorry you’ve been through the same thing. You are very brave for rebuilding your life and starting over. There’s so many of us out there. I think that finding support in one another is key. So thank you for yours 🙂 wish you all the best – speak766

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Powerful and moving poem and story. Silence further empowers the abuser, but it is so complicated, isn’t it. I was stalked by a professor at university, who forced me to “see him in his office” everytime he handed a paper back. I kept him at arms length but the power he exerted over me was real and criminal. I stayed silent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, it’s always more complicated than what meets the eye. Staying silent brings isolation, but it’s safe. Speaking about it brings tremendous risk, but also can lead to freedom. I am so sorry you had to go through such a terrible and frightening experience. I hope things are better for you now. Much love – speak766

      Like

  3. Powerful poem and thank you for speaking your truth. Silence is completely understandable but so sad that we live in a world where that is a good choice. I hope you find continuing strength to be you without fear. x

    Like

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