Red On The Floor

I thought about people who hit me. In plural. I experienced enough before adulthood. Yet at 23, when a man I loved hit me, I knew something was wrong.

Was it the force of his blow across my face, ears ringing for 6min, long pause to register its wrongness? Or was its public nature- a movie hall, yes in the dark but surrounded by 100s of people? Reconciling these thoughts with the ringing in my head, the stinging of my cheek & jaw? Or was it the desperate humiliation because a second before I’d been kissing him? It was all of it.

But a decade later I didn’t register the wrongness of being hit when it happened again with a different man. Not when he threw me across the room. Not when I hit the wall, head 2in from a glass shelf I’d cleaned that morning. Not when I slid to the floor registering that this doesn’t happen in slo-mo like film but an ungraceful bounce. Not as I sat breath knocked out, thinking my butt bones were broken, remembering it’s only one bone- the pelvis.

I didn’t. He was punching the wall & I worried about carrying him down 3 storeys if he broke something. Finding the will to get up, pull him onto a sofa, sniffing in irritation, hating that my nose runs when I’m upset, only realising I was bleeding when I saw the red drops on the floor. There was never time to register wrong. I went from caring for him to cleaning up, readymade ran-into-door excuse, Google search ‘self emergency procedure’, dig out emergency money stash. Placating him, reassuring my family, begging him to let me come home because I’d been waiting outside in the sun for 6hrs.

It’s different from the wounds of speech of the shamers, blamers, haters (so many). I registered these as wrong. I’m disgusted by them.

But I’m still in shock about the hits. Was he big enough to shrink me? Am I that weak? I don’t know if rage, fear & disgust are all forms of grief but I can only carry one at a time. I play chariot to the one that punches, kicks, shakes & throws. All I am is blood.

Rage wastes me, disgust erodes me. But fear protects me. It’s hard being in growth and also carry a knife that cuts you.

🎢: LUKA- Suzanne Vega


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