She asked me to answer in kind.
Here is that answer.
It is not a pretty one--
I was so happy that he was home.
That he was safe and alive.
We had never been “official”
Instead, off and on, almost but not *quite* since we were kids…
We hadn’t seen each other in 3 years, but my heart was still in my stomach.
I was afraid he wouldn’t feel like I did and I would look like an idiot.
I walked through the door and we locked eyes.
That feeling was still there.
Thrilling, but terrifying all the same.
He was only home for a little over a week.
Then he would be stationed somewhere else and out of my life again.
I was determined to keep the week simple.
Why make things messy and break my own heart?
We pretty much stayed glued to one another.
There was closeness and kissing, but no more.
There never had been.
We always stopped short of crossing that line.
Such a messy line it could be…
We made plans to go out with his friends.
Some drinking, some pool, some fun.
I just wanted to have some more time.
We ended up getting into an argument.
I thought he was drinking too much.
He could do that.
Not my fucking wife, he said…
Those words stung.
So much left undone/unsaid between us.
I went and sat outside smoking, and cursing myself for getting attached.
His friend came out to talk to me…
It’s not that he doesn’t want you, you know. He loves you, but it’s complicated.
Isn’t it always?
He comes out to apologize.
You’re my family, he says.
I love you, he says.
It’s MY job to protect YOU, he says…
I will fix this, and give you what you deserve, someday,
But I can’t now.
I know it’s true.
I get the feeling it always will be.
I want to go home, but he convinces me to stay.
To go with him and his friends to a house party.
I don’t want to go, but he looks at me with those eyes of his, and I relent.
I remember being bored and angry.
I remember just wanting to go home, but knowing it was not safe to walk alone.
I remember someone offering me a beer.
Then things start to go fuzzy and black out from there.
They said they were going to drop us off.
He was too drunk to drive.
Strangely fuzzy and disconnected as I was feeling, even I knew that.
I remember climbing into the back of the van.
I did not feel right.
It was me and him and two of his buddies.
It did not feel right.
I just wanted to go home.
I remember blackness
I remember mocking laughter
And flashes of pain.
I know that he was there.
And so were his friends.
That is all.
Bits and pieces of out-of-focus horror swallowed by black.
The rest of the story was pieced together via bruises and blood as I screamed in the shower the next morning.
And by blood streaming and a baby leaving several months after.
I should have stood up for myself.
I should have fought for myself.
I should have sought justice.
I should have sought justice.
But I didn’t.
I retreated instead.
I just didn’t have the strength then.
Honestly, I don’t now.
So many lines blurred.
So many times abused
So many pleas disbelieved.
So many words.
So many lies.
So many questions I could not answer.
So many things I don’t remember.
So much I want to still forget.
And for that, I am ashamed.
To all of you who have fought, I apologize for my cowardice.
I wish I could promise you bravery...
But I cannot.
I am more ashamed of myself then anyone could ever be.
That, I can promise.
I hope someday, I can be forgiven.
I can't ever forget.