I don’t eat or sleep the same anymore. Two sleeping pills at bedtime every night just to get seven hours rest, yet I’m always tired, exhausted and overwhelmed. I don’t smile or laugh the same anymore, at least not here, not all the time, with him. He’ll say that all I focus on is the negatives, the things he’s done wrong, but if this was a healthy relationship there wouldn’t be all that many things to focus on. He’s never once hit me, but in rage he’s shaken me, pushed me, yelled at me with spit flying out of his mouth while I try desperately to think of something to say to calm him down and lower his voice. I’m not allowed to be angry at him for any amount of time, tears frustrate him and withholding the words “I love you” is the greatest sin of all. I’ve watched him punch holes in walls like they were made of sand, and once he threw my Mac book across the room, shattering the screen and breaking a glass that I cleaned up afterwards. I clean, I wash, I put things away and he says “Why don’t you just ask me to do it”, except that asking him means inconveniencing his time doing whatever he wants. I’m not allowed to be selfish or inconsiderate because his Dad’s dying and isn’t that all that matters? When we fight it’s because I’m “driving him insane”, or that I “just can’t let things go” never because he can’t just count to ten and walk away from me. At first I gained weight, stuffing my face everyday so that I wouldn’t feel his scorn, his never ending blame that somehow me, the almost college grad with an impressive resume, was the screwed up one in our relationship. His parents did the best that they could but mine “should have put me in counseling years ago”. Now I constantly look puffy from crying and if I do eat it never stays in my stomach. My parents worry, a month ago a midnight call from my mother was just her hysterically crying and telling me I needed to get out of here. I didn’t see it then, her watching me from the outside as I drowned in the unhappiness of it all. In his eyes we are “normal”, because “every couple in their twenties fights like this,” but I never see too many girls looking as empty as I do. It’d be easy to leave him if only I had more money, a place to stay, and the strength to just put it all behind me, but I don’t and I try, but while I try I watch myself grow further and further away from the person I used to be. There were indiscretions on both parts. For the longest time we thought we could beat the odds, he’d apologize and say “I love you” and I would think “maybe everything will be better now”, but days later we’d be at it again him screaming “fuck you Chelsea” loud enough for the neighbors to hear. His parents never stopped him, never wondered in to see if he was hitting me or just to tell him not to scream at a woman that way in the same way that they never stopped his brother from binge drinking all day and night. The dying Dad part is all that matters, everything else is a sidebar. Recently I made the decision to unfriend his father after unsavory comments he made “in jest” on Facebook about my disrespect towards him. My decision was reversed without my consent because my boyfriend “weighted the Pro’s and Con’s” and decided what I wanted wasn’t what he wanted so he re-friended him without my knowledge. Writing it down it sounds bad, I’ve become that girl that I warned others not to become. Emotionally I’m too weak to even give thought to the fact that I’ve become a Tyler Perry character in my own life, verbally and mentally abused into thinking that I’m the problem. Everyday is the same, I’m isolated and trapped- trapped?! Is all this enough to erase the happy memories of Disneyland, our cross country 4 day road trip, our week long stay in an ocean view condo in Laguna? We never fought then, but of course it was all there, just bubbling beneath the surface. The echo of his brother calling me a “condescending bitch” came to me as I scrubbed the toilet he shit in everyday and I wondered if this is what it feels like to have no soul. Everyone that knows me see’s me as someone with strength and fortitude, but oh if they really knew how weak I felt, the things I put up with on a daily basis, and for what- love? I am a feminist nightmare, didn’t my mother teach me better?! To not to let boys yell at you and make you feel bad? Excuse me while I try to remember that class in college where it teaches you how to be alone. I know I’m damaging myself, with every word he lifts and swings at me I become sicker, and I know the recovery process will keep me out of relationships for too long while I regain… everything… I’m sorry’s are the currency of this household, dished out like candy with regret, but not a lesson learned. Afterwards it’s “lets forget this every happened” but I’m still spinning from the fact that it did. And again it comes back to the Dad dying, if only I understood, if only I could comprehend the stress, then maybe I’d see how I deserved every tongue lashing I have ever endured here. They always feel as if I’m judging them, comparing themselves to how my family might act in the same situation. I want to say that my family would never let me treat another human being the way they let their son treat me but it comes across deaf ears. I want to say I don’t have time to judge them because I’m too busy judging myself, wondering if I can ever look in the mirror and be proud of who I am again. I want to say, “stop, you’re hurting me”, but I know in the end, I’m just hurting myself.