With time, I fell. 

I will never love again, I told myself. I didn’t have room in my heart for someone else. I was supposed to be focusing on my own well-being. But the anxiety of being alone forever was a thought that explosively picked at my brain. We were meant to cross each others paths… well, that’s what I wanted to believe. He was the cure, the medication I needed to keep my mental health above water. He was everything I needed, and more, without even realizing it. 

In order for us to work I had to break open my shell that I thought would never open again. I pulled back one layer at a time, revealing a coating of skin that wanted to remain untouched. But each encounter we had became an uncontrollable addiction. I forgot about the times I’ve been hurt and taken advantage of. I saw the hint of light behind the curtain and allowed it to shed its warmth on my skin. This wasn’t like me… I wasn’t always so accepting. But the thought of trusting again was alarming. Was I really supposed to believe that he would never hurt me like the others have? This path that I so willingly chose, would it eventually turn into a dead end? Only time would tell, but letting that time pass was something I suspected to let me down fairly quickly. 

Anxiety at its finest. 

L o v e. A short yet powerful word. I doubted my ability in letting that word slide off of my tastebuds. But I was hungry for it. As the layers slowly fell to the floor I became more open to the opportunity. I knew that if I had looked back even once, everything would come crashing down. My eyes were out of control. They wanted so bad to look the other way and run for safety. Just look forward. Look at what you have… it’s right infront of you! It was so typical of me to let these anxieties gain authority. Turn left, they’re waiting. Turn right, and they are a l w a y s right. 

I was falling deeper for this person who gave up everything to make me feel special. He opened my door each time we approached my car, and closed it behind me once I was settled in. Something as little as this gesture took me such a long way. The sparkle in his eyes shined brighter than the moon hovering over us. His touch made the hairs on the back of my neck stand while the goosebumps traveled down my body. I was falling in… I was falling. 

Catch me… or don’t. 

I pulled up to his house and watched him walk around to my side. He signaled for me to come out and took hold of my hand to help me. As I rested my head against his chest, I felt an abundance of emotion streaming from his body. I looked into his eyes and felt no distractions. “What’s wrong, babe? Why are you upset?” I needed to know, I had to fix this. 

“I… I love you, Courtney. I’m in love with you.”

And there went another layer, anxiously falling to the cold, wet street. 

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Hissing flame 

Even though I couldn’t write perfect as a quality on my resume, I wanted so bad to be runner up. My clothes had to be spread out for the next day regardless of how random our plans turned out. While both of us worked full time jobs, clocking out at night was our motivation to let time pass on its own. The longer I watched the minutes wind down, the slower the sun took to rest its shine. 

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. 

There was always one last step to end my shift. As I released the garbage bag from my hand, I anticipated the doors closing behind it. Each stride I took toward my car became longer so that I didn’t have to take as many steps. I wasn’t trying to waste any time. The curfew I had repeated itself persistently. But I’d be lying if I said pushing the limit wasn’t on our agenda. We wanted to make the most of our time together, even though we had created what seemed like a routine after our shifts ended. But that was never enough… for every inch of rope he threw at me I tugged a little harder. I was weightless around him. I didn’t feel the outside pressures of school, work, and family. The person he pulled out of me abruptly put an end to all my misery. There was no way I was letting this go. 

But there it was… that backburner hissing at me and shedding its light. My mental health was at risk and I tried with all I had to not make it evident. My body transformed into the witch that constantly played with my emotions. I disputed almost every detail he shared with me and released the rope until further notice. Was I the only girl on his mind? Did he truly believe that what we had was special? Pretty… could that word even be used in the same sentence as me? I had to fight away these nasty thoughts like a cold in the midst of winter. All I wished for was to enjoy the chilly nights we spent on the dock. Our bodies swayed closer together as the waves underneath us clashed. The smile on my face was actually r e a l. But my anxiety was soon going to take over the thrown. 

If I were to give a rundown of how this devil thrived off of the love I was surely growing, his face would never return. Our touch would no longer meet and the sparks would dim to nothing. He couldn’t… he would never meet the ME that I go to war with every day. 

I had to protect my conflicting identity even when the cargo added a weight that I couldn’t pull. We were slowly becoming obsessed with each other and the road ahead of me was finally one I could travel.

One wrong move, Courtney, it would be over. Protect him from the anxiety trying to command your life. 

Protect him from that hissing flame. 

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatile-blogger-award

As a fairly new blogger, it has been such an honor to meet and work with the great people of the blogging community. When I published my first piece, I had no idea it would bring me to where I am today. I have been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award, which is a tag passed along by bloggers noticing others’ work for what it truly is. Knowing that I have brought something special to the table has kept my spirits high and untouchable. I want to thank my nominator, Nia, who blogs at https://wonderlandsangels.wordpress.com. She described me as an incredible writer and for that, I have worked extra hard to keep my readers happy. If you take the time to read through her blogs, you’ll have a true understanding of who she really is. Her page is fun and her honesty is admirable. Click the link and check her out!

The rules to follow after receiving this nomination are to –

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Share 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 10 other bloggers of your choice
  • Link your nominees and let them know they’ve been chosen

 

7 facts about me… how exciting! I love getting to know the writer behind the keyboard. If you’ve been following my story, I’m sure you have a list of things engraved in your brain that has been hard to forget. My writing technique has been the real deal… a raw, emotional upbringing meant to help find the voice to others’ struggling. It’s now my turn to use the keyboard as a way of re-introducing myself. What about me makes my life so interesting?

  1. The first thing I never fail to mention is my role as a mother. My daughter, she’s my world. She was born in January of 2016 and has grown into such a perfect human being. I’m also nine months pregnant with a little boy. He will be making his big debut in no time!
  2. I am a huge fan of sports. Football, baseball, and basketball. Over the years I have learned so much to fully understand them for what they are. I would be lying if I told you my face isn’t glued to the screen during Sunday Night Football!
  3. I can still watch cartoons regularly. There is nothing I love more than catching up on episodes that I remember seeing as a little girl. Full House (not a cartoon but a childhood show) is probably my all time favorite. I have watched and re-watched every episode countless times. Since the birth of my daughter, I have added Bubble Guppies to that list. What can I say… the songs are catchy and cut cleaning time for me in half!
  4. There are two things I’m obsessed with; Nutella and candy. I’ll admit, there have been numerous times I’ve taken the jar out of the cabinet just to sink my finger into the puddle of chocolate. I mean, of course, I licked it off. Who needs bread, anyway? Candy is always my go-to when I have nothing else to eat. I love anything sweet and sour… kind of like my personality.
  5. I love musicals! The first one I ever saw (well, remember seeing) was Rent. I remember feeling so lucky to be a member of that audience. Many people don’t know this, but singing is my second language. When I feel an abundance of emotions creeping up on me, I release that tension through song… and boy, do I let my heart out sometimes. Dancing is another passion of mine. I could never forget the times I used my double-mirrored closet as a dance studio and moved my body like there was no tomorrow.
  6. Spending time with my family is extremely important to me. I wasn’t a fan as a teenager but once I started my own family, I realized how much there is to miss when you aren’t around. Having a football team of supportive family members is something you’ll always be fortunate to have. Without them, I don’t know where I would be today. I can say, however, that each one of them has taught me something I can pass on to my kids one day.
  7. I’m pretty funny. Well, I like to think that I am. I’m awkward but I don’t mind putting that character to light. I’ll make it known when we first meet because that’s the corkiness in me. I used to be uncomfortably shy but the different stages of my life have helped my wings spread. I’ve since then learned to find the positive in almost everything… I’m still working on that!

 

There’s a little about me, beyond the Unfiltered Mama. I am now nominating the following to pass on this tag –

These bloggers are all talented in their own ways! I feel that by going through each site, I have learned a thing or two about them that has already made us closer. I hope all of you take full advantage of this nomination and know that you DESERVE it! I wish the best of luck to you as your blogging journey continues. I can’t wait to read your responses!

Thank you for taking the time in getting to know me! I will be taking a short break from the blogging world as I adjust to a new schedule ahead of me. Please don’t hesitate to keep in touch with me! I will be on social media, but my next blog post will be postponed temporarily!

Stay tuned!

 

Unsteady 

The breeze traveled through our fingertips as we intertwined our touch. I couldn’t help but fall for his gaze every time his eyes met with mine. We walked along the side of the waterfront, one that I had never been to before. As we passed by crowds of strangers, I imagined that we were the only ones there. Time seemed to have stopped for a moment… a moment that I prayed would never end. 

He hopped up on a ledge near the calming water. When he lifted me into his arms, I felt like I was the only person that mattered to him. We sat and let our feet dangle beneath us, as I worried that my flip flops would fall below. But he grabbed that thought away and threw it to the birds. His gentle eyes managed to control mine, once again, and drew me closer within each passing second. When our lips connected, a fresh piece of paper was displayed. I was willing to let him write my story. The fear of allowing my past to ruin what was next to come would be no more. But who was I kidding? I wasn’t nearly as ordinary as I made myself to be. 

The status of my mental health was unknown. I was well aware of it but I felt as if I was lying about who I really was. The anxiety and depression surfaced along side of me with no intentions of vacating. I was taking care of a persona that only I could handle. But even then, I found it grueling when in search for that strength. At times, I crumbled. When our plans for the night ended, I put myself in a dark place. I questioned every second we spent together. Did I do everything the way he wanted me to? Take more steps than I was asked? These thoughts continued to inch their way into my life even when I thought I had pushed them far away. The confidence I had built was steadily deteriorating. I didn’t want him to see me this way. The real me was not one to be badgered with. What would he think if he met me again, instead… I wasn’t who he thought I was?

I’d lose him forever. 

I needed a rewind button now more than ever before. A fresh start. If I clicked my heels together, would tomorrow be a better day? Would I wake up and not feel apprehensive about making a decision? I needed to feel secure so that my story would not be compromised. But my anxieties often swept me off of my feet. Once I was already on my knees, the weight of the world kept me down there. It was happening, again. I had to make it stop before it was too late. 
Would my transparent skin make it obvious that something was wrong with me? I couldn’t lie, not even to myself. He deserved a h e a l t h y partner, and I was willing to do anything to give that to him. 

But stay clear of the ledge, I wasn’t all that steady. 

Catch Me if You Can

There was always that fear that the past would come knocking on my door and refuse to leave. Living in such a small town made it easy to run into each other, but I wanted to avoid that at all costs. I only imagined that seeing him again would send me into a time that I tried so hard to steer clear of. Every time I hopped into my car, he was near. Each corner I turned was an instant reminder that he’d always be watching. When he said he wanted no one else to have me, he meant it. 

But this new guy… what a charm. I had only met him the one time he stopped by my work place. I didn’t have time to doubt his want in getting to know me. When I saved my number into his contact list, he texted me right away. We played a series of twenty questions, but it went on to be a lot more than that. He made sure I was comfortable with the pace of our relationship. While he knew that I had a burden weighing me down, trying to stop me in my tracks, he made me aware that what we had was like no other. I didn’t have any true reason to believe that yet another relationship would go sour. Each time I pulled back a little, he reeled me all the way in. When he displayed the bait, I couldn’t help but bite again. I was in for something amazing. 

Texts were sent back and forth within seconds of one another. His name instantly deserved a heart next to it. Each time my phone came to life I knew my world would be brightened. But there was always that one time that my ex’s name made its big debut. I had never read a longer apology in my life. Not for one second did I imagine myself back with him, but he always managed to question my mental health knowing I no longer wanted him around. The unsureness that settled within my body was agitating. I wasn’t convinced that I was capable of making my own decisions. But if I came across as someone who couldn’t handle herself, I was sure that this new guy would withdraw from the bond we had just started to build. My ex would then get what he wanted… just like he always had. 

I didn’t want him to get in the way of what I was trying to pursue with my new protector. He really did want to shield me from all the damaging memories that were packed into my brain. He made it crystal clear that I would never be abused again, not on his watch or ever. To my own surprise, I trusted him. I was far from suspicion… I knew that everything he said came straight from his heart into words. I watched each letter fall from his lips to rest easy into the palm of my hands. This was a huge turn around from the catastrophe previously at large. 

The first night we decided to meet with one another had my heart skipping beats. I had learned so much about him yet couldn’t help but feel nervous. I was going to be alone with someone who wanted nothing more than for me to be happy. This was new to me. I had to soak it all in because this time… I was meant to be here. 

And there I stayed in his arms, all night long. Moments like this were meant to last forever. 

Catch me, I’m falling. 

Singing Heart

Turn the page … I think we’re all ready for my happily ever after (the start of). 

I put my handful of distress on the back burner and tried to focus on my work. It was a slow night at the mall. As a retail employee, I didn’t have much expectation for my sales. I tried avoiding interaction with customers who wanted nothing to do with me and my usual speech. Before my boss left for the night, I begged to run and get a snack to hold me over. I had never walked slower in my life. I observed the other working teens and knew they had to feel the same as me… over it. Each clothing store drew me in one at a time, but I had to fight the urge. You’re getting food, that’s it. My walk continued, one foot after the other. 

I couldn’t help but notice the light escaping through my pocket. My phone hadn’t been too active so it came as a surprise that someone wanted to hear from me. It was the past yearning for my attention. He was so convinced that a constant plead for forgiveness would help alter my decision in moving on. But how many other times had I traveled down this road? We fought with words and hands, apologies were forced… that was all I needed to be set straight. Once the guilt fell through I was sucked back into a relationship that was no where near stable, or healthy, for that matter. But the past wasn’t going to eat me alive this time. I ran too far to turn around and start from the beginning. That’s why my phone felt better tucked away. Out of sight, out of mind. 

When I returned to my store there were three guys being drawn into a sale that they didn’t want in the first place. My boss was ready for her closing statement when I walked in. When my eyes connected with those of the man standing in front of me, there was no undoing it. Everything about him screamed he’s the one! But the voice in my head was telling me otherwise. I wasn’t fully healed from the shambles I had recently broke free from… was I ready for this? Was he worth taking the risk?

What scared me the most was how people would view me if I jumped into another relationship right away. I knew there was nothing wrong with getting to know him, but something told me it would go much further than that. When he asked me if I was seeing someone, my phone vibrated. “It’s….complicated.” I didn’t know what else to say. The chain tugging at my ankle reminded me of the baggage I was sold with. My hesitation scared him away and I thought the opportunity set in front of me was gone forever. He politely apologized and walked into the distance. The smell of his cologne wrapped itself in and out of my clothes. As I watched him walk off, I beat myself up for what had just happened. I wasn’t tied down anymore so I didn’t understand why I still acted like I was. Was this how it would be for the rest of my existence? 

As I started closing the store I heard his voice. In a matter of seconds he stood in front of me again, phone in hand. His demeanor carried an attitude like he needed to impress his boys. 

“If you want to give me your number then put it in.”

My heart sang love songs. I took a dive and for once, my head came above water. The waves didn’t drown my being. Instead, they gave me a push toward a new beginning. 

I had never been more ready for this. 

New Chapter

My patience grew thin and my energy had vanished. I couldn’t do it anymore, I didn’t want to. All of the memories we had established were being burned and forgotten. I didn’t want anything left behind that would remind me of the pain he created. He still contacted me daily and proved that his mood swings were in full effect. One minute he was hurt yet compassionate for my feelings, and then he grew angry in my decision to walk away. I refused any personal contact with him in fear for my life. But nothing stopped him from showing up to my job or my home, in hopes that we could work things out. I knew that saying all too well. We used it for comfort each time we wanted to go our separate ways. But I wasn’t falling for it this time… there was no turning back.

The two hands that weighed down my chest were finally released after all these years. Yet, I couldn’t help but walk with eyes behind my head and talk like there was a recorder attached to me. I still felt restrained even though the strings were no longer attached. He managed to guilt me into questioning whether I even made the right decision. Could I really live without him? Would I wake up tomorrow and still feel like I don’t need his instructions to start my day? I honestly didn’t know what would be best for me. I wasn’t sure if I would be capable of living a day without him telling me what to do. I was a child being tossed into the real world, not knowing what to expect or how to handle it. This was all new to me. All I had to do was grasp it and stop doubting myself. There was no room for that anymore.

His mother reached out to me when she noticed I stopped coming over. Her words inspired me to move on and do better, to BE better… because that’s what I deserved. She apologized for all that I had been through and for not being the support system that I needed. I looked up to her for having the strength to acknowledge that the relationship with her son wasn’t always peaches and cream. I couldn’t remember the last time I genuinely smiled without stressing that I was revealing the truth. The facts were out, and for once, I was okay with that.

My intentions in opening up about a partnership that went sour are far from what you believe. There are so many couples who are dealing with the same situation, right now. I truly wish that my words are able to push them toward the light. While abuse is not always physical, it often leads to just that. But sometimes the wounds of emotional abuse are deeper than what you’d expect. The lack of power over your own body and decisions is enough to feel worthless. No one deserves to be handled or convinced that they are worth nothing more than the dirt on the ground. It wasn’t a simple task that could be done over night. It took a lot of effort to see something other than how he saw it, and how he wanted me to see it. I finally had my own voice… my own life. I’d be damned if I let this happen to me again.

My life had made a complete turn around. The fresh air traveled through my body and did away with all weaknesses. I had refused any and all commitments thrown my way. I needed time for myself, to learn who I really was without the leash restraining me from taking my first step. But I couldn’t stop myself from falling head over heels for someone… a man who had walked into my life at the most perfect time. I kept reminding myself that I needed a break from the disasters unfolding right in front of me. But the temptation was too hard to resist. 

I fell in love, almost immediately, after saving myself from a time that took over my whole being. But a new chapter had been made, waiting to be read. 

Where was my life headed now?

 

Missing piece

The love we grew between us surely died. My mind constantly lost focus when all he wanted to do was continue to create memories. The many times I threatened to leave him were taken back because he begged me to stay. But why? What purpose was I serving in his life? I was a maid, a punching bag, a lover, a fighter. I expected an awful outcome when a sudden twist was thrown our way. The rollercoaster ride I was forced to stay on threw obstacles at me that I wasn’t so sure I could handle. But here I am… here I am telling you how I gained the strength to make it out alive. 

I was bullied into thinking that he was the only one who would ever want me. Because of this, I didn’t even feel the need to attempt my escape. I intimidated him often, but did I really mean what I said? I wanted so bad to be free of the neglect and discipline. I frequently grew angry with myself for the amount of time I wasted to be treated this way. I was at the bottom of the food chain with no possibility of gaining the respect I deserved. 

I don’t want to be with you anymore.” My heart dropped each time those words fell from my lips. How was I going to pull through without him? Was the impossible actually possible?

The attachment I felt toward him was unusual. Without his commands I felt apprehensive. There were many times I sat waiting to see his approval pop up on the screen. If I were on call at work and they needed me, I had to ask him if I could cover the shift. Study groups, lunch dates? Not allowed. Things that a normal teenager should not need permission for… they were all out of the question. Most of the time I already knew what his answer would be. But I just hoped that somehow he woke up a different person and saw the light trying to beam through the clouds. We both needed some sun. We needed closure that without one another, life would go on and we’d be just fine. 

I found my backbone hidden under a pile of rocks, something I had been psychotically searching for. The only thing I had left to do was to put it in place. Without it, it was difficult for me to stand up for myself. I could hardly look into his eyes long enough without feeling my head reaching for the floor. I had no confidence, no desire to put myself in a better situation. But when I found the missing piece to the puzzle, I finally started to feel whole again. It became certain that my future would not suffer from this tragedy. I was ready to be ME. 


When will it be your turn to walk away? Take the chance to see what’s behind door number two. Let me be the first to tell you that if you don’t leave now, it’ll only get harder to leave later. This tornado has sucked you in far enough… it’s time to find your path and live a better future. 

If you feel any inspiration, let it be because you know I survived. You can be in my shoes, too. That time starts now. 

23

My morning shower started off my day, as usual, and for once I wasn’t flooded by text messages and accusations. I was able to enjoy the beads of warm water bouncing off of my skin, while the knots in my hair made their way out. I had a bad feeling in my gut… maybe I shouldn’t have left my phone downstairs. I felt like way too much time had passed without hearing from my “other half.” I nearly slipped out of the shower, grabbed my towel and ran down two flights of stairs. My phone was mid-vibration when I got a hold of it. 

23 new messages. 

That’s it, I was a dead woman. I couldn’t even read through half of his messages without feeling the tears take over my eyes. I didn’t know what I was thinking… my phone was supposed to be by my side at all times. How could I let myself slip up? I was never going to hear the end of it. 

“You can tell him I’m on my way. He’s dead.”

“If you don’t answer me right now, you’ll regret it.”

“Go ahead, be with him. I knew you were a whore.”

His remarks stopped putting me into shock a long time ago. I was numb to his words. Even when I knew I had done nothing wrong, I felt like I deserved the punishment. I was so persuaded that he had a legitament reason to be angry with me. There I sat, beating myself up for something that could’ve been prevented. If I would’ve just LISTENED to him…. No. I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. I was consistently giving into his ways – battling myself in a war I would never win. I could feel his grin sliding from one cheek to the other. All he had to do was make it obvious that he was dissatisfied, and there I was sobbing at his feet. It was a never ending cycle. 

He used this as his way to seek revenge. I wouldn’t hear from him for hours. If it were a school day, he would walk right through me as if I wasn’t there. Why? He wanted me to beg. He wanted to witness his plans in action. I messaged him one after the other… again and again and again.

“I’m sorry.”

“It won’t happen again.”

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong! Give me a fucking break!” Pause. Wrong move, Courtney. 

It was so infuriating! I could no longer live to be treated like I was a cheater. But it was my word against his, and only he could be right. 

My mom always caught on to my mood when we were in a quarrel. How was I supposed to admit that he was upset over me not answering his texts quick enough? It was embarrassing, and I couldn’t take the thought of her being disappointed with me for putting up with his tactics. I knew how she would’ve reacted, along with anyone else who knew our struggles. It wasn’t worth the argument to constantly be told to just leave him. Letting those words trickle out of their mouths was effortless. But for me to act upon their demands was unrealistic. It just wasn’t going to happen. 

I lived with a huge question mark floating over my head. After years of dealing with the same routine, I became aware of what was acceptable and what wasn’t. My rule book sat in my back pocket to be within reach whenever I needed it. Should I run to the mall real quick to meet with my girlfriend? No, he wouldn’t like that. I don’t want to get in trouble. There is no exaggeration… this was my life. I don’t know how I put up with it, and I don’t know why. 

But the story continues…

Just Walk Away

Treat your woman like you would your mother. That’s what they say, isn’t it? The relationship I had with him was no different from the one he had with his mother. She stood in the next room, most of the time, when we fought and threatened to leave one another behind. Here and there she would add a comment directed toward him, and tried to explain that no one deserved to be treated the way he treated me. But that only added fuel to his fire. It was almost like his mom and I were in the same boat, and each time he yelled the waves were close to knocking us off. I wanted to vent to her and let her know that I was there in return… but we were both terrified of the unknown. He had countless tricks up his sleeves and I didn’t want to be the first to experience one.

I thought I had reached my breaking point the first time he put his hands on me. I told myself over and over again that my buttons would no longer be pushed. One and done, I’m walking away. But I was in for a surprise. He was extremely apologetic, as they usually are. We talked about it day after day to try and get past the misery everyone was bringing upon us. “I didn’t realize what I was doing. I was drunk. It won’t happen again.” Apparently, that was all I needed to feel like my life was in good hands. Those around me were far from trusting his word and tried to convince me otherwise. But I was so blindly in love that I wouldn’t let anything come between us.

Until the next time.

I grabbed my things and reached for the knob that would free me from his foolish behavior. But before I was able to grasp it, he threw me against the wall and stopped me from breathing. This had all stemmed from another argument we had, which forced me to express my desire to leave him. He made it clear that breaking up would be the last thing I wanted to do. Meanwhile, I could hear his parents talking in the next room over. They had no idea of what went on behind closed doors. All I could do was pray one of them would knock and end my suffering. A lifetime had passed, (what seemed like) and again I was reminded why he had all control within his own two hands.

After he released me from his possession, all I could do was cry. I couldn’t bear the thought of allowing this to happen for as long as we stayed together. Deep down, I knew, it was never going to end. I wanted to stand up for myself and shout “NO MORE!” I wanted him to know that abuse, domestic and emotional, was not okay and I would no longer put up with it. Instead, I broke into thousands of unreplaceable pieces and wrapped the chains around my own ankles. It was made clear that this was where I was meant to be. This was the life I chose and there was no turning back. When was my way out going to be presented to me? Would there ever be a right time? I had so many unanswered questions. But instead, I went silent and continued to watch our relationship fall apart.

When we got together with our friends I saw a side of him that I hadn’t seen since we first met. Gentle, kind, appreciative… qualities that all men should have no issue conveying. But the second my car door slammed it was like he took his mask off to feel comfortable in his own skin again. There was always something I said that rubbed him the wrong way. If I made it known that we weren’t always a picture-perfect couple, my life would be hell for the next few days. I went from feeling like the luckiest girl in the world to not wanting anything to do with life in general. I was so burnt out and exhausted from the threats, the accusations, the lies. My head was constantly spinning and it became harder to keep up with the way he wanted to run things. When I was finally allowed to go home and recover from the day’s events, it was like I needed to turn my brain off until the morning. Just one switch, that’s all I cared for. But it was never as easy as I made it sound.

I dozed off into a land of fluffy clouds and bright green grass, soft enough to lie on and soak in the sun. One second went by, two seconds. My dreams were often interrupted by the vibrations of my phone under my pillow.

“Who are you so distracted by that you can’t answer me?”

I just want to sleep… Please, let me sleep.