Domestic Violence and The Walking Dead

Event: Sunday, October 27th, 2013, 5:00 pm

Mood (Song): Frou Frou – Let Go

The worst thing about you telling me you think “I’m beautiful” is that when it comes out of your mouth, I believe you.

Last Saturday should’ve been just another anonymous weekend eve. After not having much of a spring or summer, I decided that a night out with the girls was long overdue and necessary. After a pretty uneventful night, I label it a self-fulfilling prophecy of meeting the same self-centered yet boring blokes and wonder why I drag myself out in the first place when I had an unwatched DVR’d episode of Dateline at home. I turn to say goodbye to my friend as I figure the next obvious step is to hail a cab and return to scheduled solace. I don’t know why but I turn and start talking to a boy instead. Wait this handsome stranger is a man. So let’s call him Mr. Handsome. I thought those were extinct because the majority of the males I’ve met in the past 3 years in their early 30s have fallen far short of that title. So I make a decision. I didn’t do my hair, shower, put make up on and come out here for nothing. Not tonight. I deserve one night to do what other single 20-somethings do every weekend. What’s the worst that could happen? You end up being just as inconsequential in my life as I am in yours and we never speak again? Fine. I’ve gotten so good at this that come sunrise you will actually think it’s YOUR idea that we never see each other again. Doesn’t matter to me, even better if it makes you maintain your machismo being “in control” (yes it’s awful but insert mental pat on the back). 

The next 8+ hours we spent together are ridiculous. Ridiculously amazing. I laugh like I haven’t laughed before. Wait…have I EVER been with a guy that makes me laugh? I listen to MR.HANDSOME snoring as I lie awake going over the nights’ events in my head. More so, how I am feeling about the events of the past few hours. I find that I am not thinking about when and the least awkward way to say goodbye. I realize the reason I cannot sleep is because I am feeling two things that I’ve desperately wanted to feel desperately for years, two things I haven’t felt since 2007 simultaneously: sexy and safe. Oh sh*t! Before I can even think about WHAT that means, I am in a panic. Quick before he wakes up, WHAT SHOULD I DO? What I do best of course, revert to passive behavior! When he talks about hanging out again, I talk about how I don’t need the distraction, blah, blah, bullsh*t, blah. He leaves around noon and when he does I act like I don’t care. It’s even better because while Mr. Handsome is walking towards his car I realize that I am not even sure if we traded contact information so he probably has no viable way to contact me if he wants to. As I begin my Sunday errands, I wait for the usual logic to prevail.

Now its 1:00 pm and I’m at the drug store. I get to the checkout and the guy asks me why I’m in such a good mood. I asked him how he reached that conclusion. He said I came in smiling. I shrug him off and leave the store. At 3:00 pm, I visit with family friends and they ask me what I’ve been up to. Even as I am describing how exciting and stressful the past few months have been, I’m smirking. At 5:00 pm, I walk to my car to head home and I catch a glimpse of myself and holy marbles, I can’t get this stupid grin off my face! I don’t know how to describe it but sometimes the only way you know something is right is having done a whole lot of wrong before. I am an expert in wrong. This was different. I hate that to admit it but I actually want to see him again. The worst thing is that I’ve had these thoughts all. Freaking. Week. Long. Up until today, Sunday October 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm.

Exhausted from last night’s Halloween festivities, I woke up like clockwork at 9:00 am and started my Sunday errands like normal. I’m a notoriously bad sleeper so this wasn’t surprising to me. But if you don’t get enough sleep, I hear you can possibly die. Last night caught up with me so I decided to take a nap. Apparently, you only dream when you enter deep or “REM” sleep, during which is supposed to be a restorative period for your body. My mind had a completely different idea. I didn’t have a dream. I had a nightmare. A nightmare I’d had once before in 2009, same characters, different setting. Last time my ex boyfriend cut through the mesh window on the den, broke through the glass in the kitchen with his elbow to put his hand through and open the door. He was in my room and before I could make a sound, as if I could make a sound, his hands were on my throat. This afternoon, he climbed through my bedroom window. I asked him how he found me and he said he would always be able to find me. I told him to leave. He said no. I yelled stop and he came closer. Again, his hands were on my throat but this time I made a sound. I screamed, screamed and screamed this time for my mom but she never came. I finally woke up, realizing it wasn’t real and that he wasn’t actually there but I still couldn’t breathe. I’m laying in the fetal position shaking and hyperventilating with a million thoughts running in my head.

Why am I having this dream again NOW? Yes, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of him but why now? I tell myself that I need to pull myself together but not to rush it, just as long as I am done before The Walking Dead comes on. But the questions keep coming. The only conclusion I’ve come to is this. I’m no Freud or Yung but I met MR.HANDSOME on an anonymous Saturday eve after not going out for months too. Even though most of my engagements start hot and heavy, this one, I thought was different too. I felt sexy and safe too. What is frightening to me is that even though almost 6 years have gone by, I am still trying and failing to pinpoint the moment at which it changed and I didn’t feel sexy or safe anymore. When I left NC, I thought it would all go away if I assimilated into a normal 23 year old girl’s single but dating life is. At age 27, maturing as a woman, I think I am coming to terms with that fact that it will never be normal for me. I don’t want to spend some of the supposed best years of my life white knuckling through normal rites of passage. We all meet guys and talk about how much we like them and want them to call which of course they never do. Or there is that guy that we don’t like who calls too much and just can’t take the hint we are not interested but he is “really really nice” and we “don’t want to hurt his feelings”. We ask each other what we should wear on the first date or what we think something they said means, etc. I, like so many other girls you know but would never been able to tell are victims of dating violence because they are forced to live in secrecy in a society that revels in victim blaming and shaming, think about other things. We, as victims, think of other things. We ask ourselves “How long do we really expect this to last?”; “Does he know that I am a victim of DV and think less of me?”; “I like him and I do want to open up to him but will he think I must obviously be nuts or too damaged to date having gone through that?” “Doesn’t he know that having gone through that makes me 10 more likely to cherish and dote on an awesome relationship? And worst of all, “If he does turn dark, will I be able to recognize them this time before it’s too late? – the self doubt that almost never goes away.

I thought about the MR.HANDSOME just like he joked I would after he left for this entire week. Until this afternoon, when I saw my ex boyfriend’s face again. I hate how he isn’t here anymore and hasn’t been for years but still is a menacing figure to me, making me question how I feel or what I want about something that felt so great in the moment for reasons I don’t fully understand but THIS TIME with THIS GUY want to explore. I don’t want to wonder, think or worry about my ex and my past with him in the present tense. I guess I have to thank him for planting these seeds of doubt because it makes things much easier for me if I never hear from the MR. HANDSOME again or get to explore whatever it is I am feeling. It may make it go away faster too. As I think about how I want to pay it forward with the young women I want to help through The Survivant Organization, I can’t help but think about how useful it would be for someone to write a single girl’s dating guide for life after DV. Anyways, The Walking Dead starts in a half an hour so I have that to look forward to. Baby steps.

~LK

Hello! My name is Lorpu Kpadeh. I'm the Founder and Executive Director of The Survivant Organization, a non-profit located in Washington D.C., assisting female victims of domestic and sexual violence aged 16-24 through research, interactive education, and advocacy. I started a blog, Stirrings of A Girl Interrupted, Woman in Progress to serve as an open forum for girls like me to discuss the violence, share stories and support others who are trying to find their way in the already confusing dating world through the haze of being a victim/survivor of domestic and sexual violence. Here is a link to my blog: http://lkpadeh1231.tumblr.com/.Chronologically, the first entry is at the bottom so if you start there, you can scroll up to read subsequent entries. In my free time, I enjoy concerts, road trips, cooking, and running.

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