Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chris + Rihanna = M + Suzy

I'm not going to jump down Rihanna's throat because I've been there, done that. When I was her age. M was in his 30's and and used to rough me up. He would grab me by the arm and yank me. And then he'd do what he always did: apologize. Said he'd never do it again and give me flowers or jewelry, which he stole from his mother, usually things from the 1940's that I still have.

It was my roommate who noticed the marks. I didn't even see them. Young love can be so stupid when you're 22 and the man is insecure and controlling. I was planning on marrying this man. Thank God that never happened. Statistics say getting married in your 20's is now no longer recommended by psychiatrists, marriage counselors or even the clergy. People in their 20's just don't have a lot of street smarts. And I was one of them when I was 22. GOD did I have a lot to learn.

So when my roommate asked if M was beating me, I said, "Of course not." To me, beating involved blood and weapons.

But it soon escalated. M was jealous. Ridiculously jealous. A glance from another man would set him off. It was always about men. I was in a theater company and got a lot of attention. He had no job at the time and I guess felt ashamed. He was a master manipulator and charming to everyone. Even me. Until we were alone.

The year we met we drove across country so that I could have a surgery that would eventually save my life. In Amarillo, Texas we checked into a motel and then went to a local bar. We had a few beers and left. On the way out, a cowboy asked me what time it was. I looked at my watch, turned around and answered him. When we got back to the motel, all hell broke loose.
"Is that your new boyfriend?"
"Excuse me?"
"You heard me."
"He asked me what time it was."
"A whore, a lying fucking whore, that's what you are."
"He wrote something down on his hand, what was it, your PHONE number?"
"I don't HAVE a phone; we left San Francisco, remember?"

People pounded on the wall next door and yelled SHUT THE FUCK UP. M pounded right back and told them to shut the fuck up. They didn't pound again. I don't remember what I said next but he pushed me backwards and then when he got close enough, he threw me across a bed and I landed on a bedpost and got a black eye. He said he was going to kill me.

I cried. He apologized. There was no flower shop in the motel and his mother's jewelry box was mercifully hundreds of miles away. So I took the apology, the kisses, his tears and just sat on the edge of the bed feeling like a rerun.

He said we should go back to the bar so HE could cool down. So, like the ever faithful afraid I was going to lose him girl, I acquiesced. The bar finally closed and we walked out all smoochy and holding hands. We were soon surrounded by 5 men. They asked us if we wanted to go party.
"No, we've got an early ride out of here tomorrow."
"Oh come on; it's good stuff."

They surrounded us and made one guy go in our car while the other 3 went in their car and told us to follow them. My black eye started to pound but that was nothing compared to the kind of trouble I knew we were in now. The 3 of us sat in the front seat, me in the middle, the rape seat. I suddenly got real calm and told the stranger next to me that I hoped there was a gas station along the way since we'd been experiencing car trouble. Then I told him M had just beat me up so he'd know he was a fighter. The stranger didn't even look at me and grunted.

After about 10 silent minutes I turned to M and said, 'There goes that front tire again."
"What tire?"
"The right front tire.' I elbowed him hard. M finally got it. Stretched out in front of us was miles and miles of dark highway and the tail lights of the other car were far in the distance. M and I were not going to get out of this alive.

M slowed the car and I asked the stranger to get out and check the tire and to leave the door open so when he told us what was wrong we could hear him. He yelled from the dark, "Looks good from here."
"Are you sure, check the ghdysgsh."
"The WHAT?"
"Floor it," I whispered to M, "and do a 180."

He did. The open door knocked the stranger flat and M's Dodge Charger turned, burned serious rubber and took off at about 90 mph.

I guess I had SOME street smarts. And M never hit me again. But when we got to my parents' house, my dad didn't talk to me for 7 months because of that black eye.

When I went back to California, M and I got back together. WOMEN ALWAYS GO BACK. People never understand this but it happens over and over and over in this kind of dyad. Don't judge unless you've been there. I don't approve of Rihanna going back to Chris but it's her path to walk in life, their karma that does not concern you or me so I don't judge. I've learned one thing, I've NEVER met ONE person who wasn't fucked up in some way. Some, obviously, more than others. My dad used to hit me when I was a kid. Is that why I allowed it from M? I thought I deserved it? Or was it just part of what I had to go through to get from Point F to Point G in life?

I never got hit again by anyone again.

M died of a heroin overdose.


  1. WOW, Excellent post and so thankful you are around to share it with others. Hopefully you sharing your story will help save somebody else.
    Good for you for finally getting out and never taking it again. Excellent street smarts!

  2. Anonymous5:25 PM

    Interesting story...I too was hit by my dad and he was the first and last man that ever laid a finger on me;...I definitely went through a few letters of the alphabet going through that....and good call with the tire.

  3. My dad was verbally abusive to my mom. I never understood why she stayed with that cheating bastard and I never let a guy mistreat me in any way. My sister on the other hand found a guy who was exactly like my pops. He fathered her first daughter but thankfully she found the guy she's married to now.

    Quick thinking Suzy. Even at 22 you kicked ass.

  4. Anonymous7:32 PM

    I still want to smack you.

    (nice post, Pooz)

    Boss O xxoo

  5. Anonymous7:46 PM

    Fabulous post. I couldn't/can't/don't want to add anything. It's perfect. It should be an editorial in major newspapers.
    Martha Jane

  6. Oh, Lord - I'm going to have nightmares tonight.

    But what's with the marriage thing? Girls in their 20's are abused by boyfriends as much (if not more) than by husbands. And I know plenty of people who marry young who do fine. I don't think anyone can generalize like that.

  7. I should post as anonymous here, but I won't.

    I once was in a physically, and mentally abusive relationship -- and I agree. Until you've been there it's hard to justify the emotions/stupidity/whatever that keep you coming back. Unlike you, I put up with it for two years... and I haven't talked about it since. I knew well before I left that things were bad, and I chose to stay.

    Reading this made me remember. And feel. As the mother of four girls who are too young to know what lies ahead I am thankful for your reminder. And for our lessons learned. And I pray that MY mistakes are enough to prevent my own daughters from following my own path... even though I got the happily ever after.

    I hope they are strong.

    THANK YOU for posting this. I've carried my own story with me for years. The thought of sharing always too -- unsettling. But if no one had the courage to tell where would any of us be? Thank you for having that courage.

  8. Darsden, Mrs. K, Bee. thanks for your sharing.

    Boss O, is that baby sitting on your brain?

    MJ, thanks.

    Suburban, thanks for finding the BIG mistake.

    Kathy B. thanks for your bravery in finally sharing your story. I am boundaryless so sometimes not a great teacher but I'm glad you found something to remind you.

    Love to all but Boss O.

  9. There are far too many stories like yours.

    When my oldest daughter got involved with a guy that I thought had potential to be an abuser (she was 14, he was 18--they were in the theatre together), I put her in counseling and used all my power to keep them apart until he left for college. I did it because, you're right, it could happen to anyone under the right circumstances.

    I'm with SC on the marrying in the 20's thing--I don't think it's relevant.

    I'm glad you made it out okay and it's brave of you to share.

  10. That was a great post with amazing perspective that I did not have...thank you for sharing that riveting story...

  11. It can take twenty times for a woman to leave...if she leaves...if she survives. I didn't pull that number from my capacious ass - I work at a shelter, volunteer, and it's the average. Twenty times.

    And that's just the hitting...there's no number for the ones who put up with rape, verbal abuse, psychological torture.

    Children who grow up abused are more likely to enter abusive relationships - it's their norm. Better the Hell you know...

    Abusers often self-destruct...perhaps it's a horrible irony that they finally, ultimately turn on themselves...or maybe it's just a fucked up karma.

    I'm glad you didn't get sucked into the fugue.

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K (who wishes she didn't know as much as she does, sometimes)

  12. Wow, what a story. Good for you for your quick thinking. And for eventually figuring out that you didn't need M.

    Just, wow.

  13. Suzy;

    I am so very glad you got out when you did. M got what was most likely inevitable given his pattern.

    It's wonderful you are here for us to enjoy.

    Bless your heart!

  14. Anonymous6:20 AM

    Beautifully written. I won't take the focus off you by sharing my story. A simple You're Right will suffice. The world would be a much nicer place if there was less judging and more compassion/understanding.

  15. Great post. I really don't have much to add, but thank you for sharing your story. Hopefully others will read and realize that they can do more with their lives. And you obviously had street smarts by the tire idea!

  16. Holy cats, woman. You can sure write/live/survive a fascinating story. I agree - it should be picked up by major newspapers. You are amazing.

  17. Wow. No other words but wow.

    Okay two more - Great post.

  18. I'll echo the "Great Post!" comments! I used to volunteer at a women's shelter and know only too well that most women will repeatedly go back to the abuser - until that final time when they leave for good, either going to a shelter for help or to a cemetery forever.

  19. I lived with a man for 14 years who mentally and emotionally abused me ran around on me and did unspeakable things. He always apologized and got "better" then right back to who he was. He finally did somethig so heinous I couldn't excuse it away. It was a horrible way to live. Rheanna needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It won't get better. It will only get worse. Heck I should have known my ex was a bad guy when the dog wouldn't quit shitting in his shoes.

  20. Thanks to all of the rest of you who commented. My hands are a bit stiff today...

  21. Anonymous8:31 PM

    Suz, some say women stay because it's, familiar...

  22. My God Suzie, I had no idea. I got married in my 20's and am now divorced. I did it out of fear and stayed for 14 years as a result. It is should be illegal to marry before you're 30th birthday.

  23. Making the decision to leave is never easy for people in abusive situations. Once you are beaten down, you even forget what strength you once had, and lose all sense of power and strength in many cases.

    That you are sharing this part of your life is brilliant and brave, and may indeed make the difference to someone's life....

    And you are also right about that saying, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." We never really know what someone is going through, do we, so we can only support and be there for them, but they might not be listening if we tell them to leave him/her...

    Take care Suz!

  24. XOXOX

    I had an abusive boyfriend when I was young (15). Thank God I got away from him.