So HBO has really had some interesting new series recently. One that I have especially loved is True Detective, with none other than delicious, creamy men stars like Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The story line is chock-full of cross functional police work like undercover spying, special victims, and domestic violence, which spurs various emotions, some heavy with wretchedness, and some light like freshly polished crystal glass. In the third episode, married Woody Harrelson breaks down the door of his on-the-side girlfriend, where he proceeds to attack her date, punching, kicking, cussing, and beating… with her screaming for him to stop. I remember feeling tightness in my chest, the anxiety building in my throat, and tears welling in my eyes.
Because you see, that was me. I was that girl.
I had moved in with my sister only weeks before, or perhaps months; the memories seems to fade in and out with time, moving closer to my heart at certain intervals, and completely vanishing in others. I was only 24 at the time, and tended to jump from relationship to relationship. I had never lived alone. Not yet anyways. I had moved out of our apartment after walking in on the dark-haired Italian, drunken with whiskey and stout, sweat pouring from his brow, in my bed with a thin blonde beauty. On Valentine’s Day. After our “date.” I vowed to never speak to him or see him again. Easier said than done.
Being so young, I felt that my best chance would be to get out there dating as soon as possible. I put my big girl panties on, headed out to the local scene, and snagged myself someone. Anyone. In fact, I struggle to remember his exact name, although I will never forget his face or his tone of voice, or what he meant to me. After a few dates, I brought him to my sister’s house, where I was staying, and we stayed up talking, which I admit, led to other things. I was 24 after all.
Within an hour, the thumps on the front door began. At first, they were soft knocks, with appropriate time intervals, but gradually, they turned to inpatient pounds, hammers of fists thrashing… and then… the sound of broken glass, and the opening of the front door. Weighty steps crushed the wood floors beneath, creaking in the empty spaces, lurking behind closed doors. Suddenly, the barrier between us flung open.
Fists were flying, yelling commenced. I jumped out of my seat, pleading, “Stop!” Punches broke bones, and blood spewed onto the ceiling. I was shoved, pushed, and corralled into corners, while my date’s face became adorned with streaks of open wounds. He had his hands palm down, moving his arms in a pumping motion, coolly saying, “calm down, man!” to no avail. Things moved to the front yard. My sister came running down the stairs, with her frightened Labrador retrievers, and called 911.
The police arrested my former boyfriend, and I drove my date to the ER, where all I could do was stare at the imprint of a ring in his forehead, surrounded by a growing pool of blood, that would bruise his face for months to come. This was all my fault. Somehow I had allowed this to happen, this incident. I was to blame.
Like Woody Harrelson, my former boyfriend had connections; in fact, he was an attorney. A few months later I was tired of fighting and I dropped the charges against him, and there were many. It is not the only decision I regret making in my lifetime, but it is definitely one that has had the most impact on me. I suffered from relationship PTSD for a long time, and still do. Constantly accusing my boyfriends of cheating, wondering when the big blowout “moment” will happen. The sommelier was smart enough to see through this rouse, and married me anyway. However, from time to time, the victim in me rears its ugly head, and I anxiously sort through his schedule, his whereabouts, and question him incessantly. He loves me anyway, and understands that one day soon this searching will lapse. I will forgive myself. I will lay the blame where the blame deserves to be put to rest.
During the True Detective episode, I nervously looked at the sommelier, hoping he wouldn’t see the tears forming on my cheeks. I took a sip of a Cotes Du Rhone by Paul Autard, the warmth of the blend of Grenache and Syrah, with its dark fruit cascading through my throat, encompassing my inner being, embracing my nervousness with its calming nectar. The tannins smooth and light, each sip was easier to take. And I slurped down more.
And that is when I decided: this will be the last time. 10 years have gone by. I am a different woman: a wife, a mother, with a successful career. The attacker can no longer get to me. I will put him in the jail in my head, to rot and deteriorate, the skin falling off his bones, and the brain leaking out of his ears. He is dead.
So, I moved on, forgave myself for my part in it all, and Woody Harrelson has not looked the same to me since. Although True Detective is still on my DVR, with Paul Autard by my side, I now have power over it.
Because it is not my fault. And it is not about who eventually loved me enough, although I dare say the sommelier is an amazing man who is worthy of the utmost love. It is about loving myself enough to know, that I am worth it.
Love well. Be well. Drink well. Cheers.