On the edge of madness

My ‘must-read’ story

Abuse in a relationship

On the edge of madness

He was ugly. No doubt about it. Yet an intangible, subtle something drew me to him. He strode in. His powerful understated, physique made its presence felt above the bustling restaurant activity. The confidence oozed like jam from an overstuffed doughnut and the smooth, rich, radio voice addressing the maître-d’ added to the desirable picture.

He approached my table. “Wow,” I thought as I nervously revealed the details of my phone number, “this incredible man, wants to go out with me.” A true redhead. At twenty-six, I still had my figure and was reasonably attractive with make-up. I was no cover girl.

The signs were there from early on and amidst strong opposition, doubt and criticism from friends and family, the relationship sped along with no limit to the bumps and crashes along the way. After six weeks, we moved in together. It was a comfortable flat just outside of Yeoville. Not quite my choice of area, but I thought there was more than enough space for both of us and I liked the sunny rooms. I wanted to prove to the world that I could sustain, beat all odds, prove them wrong. There was nothing, nothing wrong with this man and I would show them.

The first couple of days passed by virtually without incident. We got by on Chinese takeaways and tuna salad. But Philips soon decided I should demonstrate my cooking ability.
“You’re trying to kill me,” he accused as he bit into the steak and salad that I had graciously prepared.
 “What?”
“The steak is so salty, you’re trying to kill me with it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Mine is the same. That’s how I like it.”

“You, you are always thinking about yourself. As long as things are the way you like them, you don’t care about me. Get rid of me. Go on. Why don’t you?”

“Please Philip if it’s that awful I’ll make something else.”

He left to go get pizza. When he came back he wanted sex. Breathing heavy garlic all over me extinguished what little desire there may have been. But more than that I was afraid. Half his size at just over five feet, I was in no position to contest his physical strength. What would this man who reacted to slightly over-salted steak do to me if I refused him sex? He told me he believed it was a man’s right to have it on demand.

There wasn’t much choice, so we did what I wanted to believe was “make love”. There was a part of me that enjoyed it, a part of me that said this act meant I had been forgiven and everything would be okay. I took the physical symbolism of intimacy and used it as the basis for an emotional resurrection. I had to prove. My sliding self-esteem provided the springboard for that.

“I love you,” Philip said after his climax. He could have said, “great weather for a picnic.” He was as detached. I told myself this was as much emotion as he could manage. Coming from a dysfunctional family – he would exclude himself – one had to feel sorry for him.

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