Smile

Smile
 © 2015 Caroline Raggett

“Smile!” she said in a cheery voice. My wrists are raw from the cable tie binding both hands to the chair. She dances like an innocent child playing with finger paints.

Her paint is my blood, and her work is superior to my own.

“Smile”, she said again, seriously this time. Her face distorted; her eyes turning cold. She approaches me with the razor blade to carve into the canvas of my skin.

Too often I told her to keep smiling, hide her bruises and tell no-one of my fists sculpting her scars.

“SMILE.”

One final slice.

The Truth – A Commentary

© 2015 Caroline Raggett

The truth is that there was no truth. No real truth. Every word exchanged between us, though we believed them to be absolute truths, was based on that first little lie that snowballed into something bigger. Eventually it was an avalanche of lies.

But we truly believed that they were our universal and undeniable truths.

We were so comfortable within that blanket of lies that we fought hard to preserve it. The narrative of our relationship was consistent albeit destructive; it often began with a disagreement, escalating in stages to verbal abuse, poisonous words, violence and then the break up. The shocking climax repeated itself, as after the final escalation we would soon find ourselves reconciling.

It was a never ending cycle of abuse – self-abuse as well as being abused. This exhausting assault course took its toll on me and my emotions. My personality, my confidence, my core beliefs were shaken. After a year or so I came to expect the tsunami of uncertainty and anger that would come in vicious bursts and, I am still ashamed to say, I deserved it.

That was another one of my truths.

I deserved it.

I came to expect it, and I blamed myself. Maybe if I had behaved a certain way in the beginning I wouldn’t be treated this way. If I carried myself with more self-respect, maybe I would be respected. I hardly recognised who I was anymore and I was certainly convinced that I deserved no better.

I was resolute in the knowledge that I would remain this weak little girl who only had herself to blame for her current situation.

I’d never find someone like him. It wasn’t his fault if I got upset, he said.

“If you were strong willed you wouldn’t be upset with me about anything. But you are. That makes you weak and so what you feel is your own problem”.

I remember THAT one specifically.

I was fractured into I don’t know how many pieces. I was pulled in so many different directions by that man, and I could see my family and my friends willing me the opposite way. But I couldn’t fight it. I was too weak. He said so.

I didn’t think I would ever fully heal. I wouldn’t ever evolve from the base instincts he drew out of me for his own pleasure. The other aspects of my personality were consumed by it until I really did not recognise myself. He had moulded me into this THING and I had allowed it.

Therefore it had to be as much my fault as it was his, didn’t it?

Even after I finally re-arranged the broken pieces of myself into some kind of coherent shape, and I ended it once and for all, he behaved as though he owned me. His truth was that he believed he had his own caveman claim on my flesh, my thoughts and my heart. I was made to feel ashamed of things I’d said and done, even if they didn’t involve him. It was his way of trying to control the situation; to manipulate me into doing his will in a cruel attempt to separate me from the friends and family I had already foolishly pushed away (believe me; it took a long time to rebuild some of those relationships. I think I always will be to some degree).

The arguing continued beyond the end of the relationship. It was still exhausting. I didn’t feel like I had achieved anything, he still had a power that made me feel worthless. I was still the empty husk of some girl, trying to make myself whole.

And then…He was there.

Wonderful, perfect Him.

Everything I had ever wanted had I known to ever ask for it. I didn’t believe I deserved Him. In any way. To this day, I still don’t, but there is a ring on my finger; a little girl lies sleeping in the room next door. She is so much like Him that every inch of me glows just thinking of her beautiful brown eyes – His eyes- staring at me like I am the centre of her universe.

There is a kick of acknowledgement in my belly as my thoughts travel, this movement from our darling little boy who we have yet to meet.

There is a bed in the other room where He and I lay. He holds me tight, tickling my skin, telling me I am gorgeous, telling me He loves me. This was the kind of love I’d dreamed of. Finally, an equal devoted partnership and He was so unreal. I really believed I had dreamed Him into existence as no one could possibly want someone as damaged as I.

After all, my soul was splintered. I was in such a dark place and He saved me. Not by acting like the shining knight or the superhero, but by giving me the things I didn’t believe I would ever truly deserve.

Even from the first meeting I knew something had changed. I had changed and I dared to dream that He might feel the same glittering spark in His own chest.

The truth is that my past truths are meaningless.

All of them are. No amount of truth or lie from before exists anymore. He washed me clean of all the pain and loathing and shame that I felt for myself. Meeting Him, falling for Him, marrying Him – it was like a baptism renewing me. He opened my eyes to what it should be like; He allowed me to love myself again and gave me the greatest gift of His heart.

This is my truth:

As You have cleansed me I will worship You as a wife should. As You have given me Your heart, I swear I will give You mine. As you love me I will love myself.

And as You have gifted me Your fragile but perfect, glittering love I will carry it next to my own ugly heart; the one with the scars, held together by Your own shining light.

This way I know it will never break.