A Casualty of His War: A Poem about surviving abuse, by Lucy

Constance…in light of recent events, I am continuing posting things I find germane to my current place, current state of mind, and current resolve to not accept blame for the actions of abusers…you all know the trope:  “if you hadn’t done (or been, or said, or thought, or gone) X, then would not have had to say (or be, or do, or think, or exploit you in the place you went) Y.  Classic displacement of responsibility from where it rests squarely and justly onto the shoulders of the one who happened into the path of a monster for whatever reason.

I am vague about “abusers” for very good reasons of counsel…sorry, I would love nothing more than to name them publically.  I might never get back what was taken from me, but they should have to wear the permanent stain of their actions like heart tattoos.

Insidious, institutionalized, and so deeply inculcated into our point of view societally…blaming the victim, and then comes that wonderful training in Stockholm to teach victims how to blame themselves, police themselves on behalf of the abuser.

I wrote a poem last year around this time called The Terrorist .  It is making the point that emotional terrorism is just has destructive, just as death dealing as physical terrorism, and quite likely even more so, because it leaves its victim alive and violated, dehumanized and then made into the object of derision by the blame shifting that is then engaged in like a demonic game of Duck Duck Goose.

Over at Everyday Feminism you can find this article:

I Confused Love and Abuse Until I Refused To Be a Casualty of His War

This contains the poem that I have taken formatting liberties with for effect…it contains it as a poetry slam short film.  I encourage you to first of all watch.  I also took the liberty of giving it my own title.  Certainly if this is in error I will edit that ASAP, just let me know anyone…I just thought the piece I pulled for a title was apropos.

Then…after you watch…I want you to think of something.  Think of someone in your life, someone in your past…the worst bully you can recall being around.  Or, maybe just the most banal, the most bathetic…they are one in the same.

Try to remember what it was like when you were subject to that foul flow, puked in scalding gouts acidic and harsh…and then remember how good it felt to escape it, finally.

Then ask yourself:  what became of that person?  Did they go on from me to bully others?  Abuse others?  Are there other victims out there, and if so how are they…are they scarred like me?  Worse?

And then lastly, imagine what things would have been like if you stopped the bully for good, or better yet, if someone had courageously stopped them before they got to you.  Now what would the imagined future be like?  Ya know, it is sorta like having your own version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” except in reverse…everyone has been living that bully’s truth which is in reality Aftermath.

I am confronted with a daunting and arduous road.  Likely in this confrontation, I will be completely trashed in reputation, motivation and presentation…but maybe it will make the bully think twice next time…and maybe the sight of me publicly humiliated will somehow be the turning point that cracks a hard shell encasing a torn heart, and an enabler will be convicted to take a stand with the powerless in identification instead of taking leave in the safety of what we do now…blame the victim.

I dedicate this poem to a certain “Dick” in my life.

Charissa, clear minded and terrified
Quaking and resolved
Condemned to die and trusting Them who specialize in resurrection

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Thank you. Hi, everyone.
I’m Lucy, and the title of this piece is…

Uh, the title of this piece is…

People make a big deal about eyes,
but it was really
the wrinkle in his forehead
that caught me
as he fumbled to
write down his number.
We fell in love
like children running downhill:

wind whipping past,
parading each other to our friends,
to the sky,
to the old couples we
imagined as our future selves.

When he moved in,
I swore he fused with the house.
I could hear his sigh
in the hum of my ceiling fan,
I could taste him in my coffee,
and anyone could
see him in my poetry.

The grooves in his palm
spoke of tragedies.
A frayed lifeline spread
to the pinky tip.
I traced along
those calloused patches
and kissed the scars
on his knuckles.

When you love hard enough,
you can embrace those scars.
And when you love long enough,
you excuse or even ignore
almost imperceptible
changes in the terrain:

when he gripped me a bit tighter,
a bit more often.
When “How are you?”
became “Where were you?”

In college,
I learned that in World War I,
soldiers rarely wrote about their misery.
They were living
a new kind of nightmare,
so what good were
the same old words
and metaphors?

Poets died in those trenches.
I thought of them
as I tiptoed
around the landmines
that littered our home.

When you live in a battlefield,
where do you find energy to pick up a pen?

Like a numbed soldier,
I lived from moment to moment,
and when the moments were sweet
(and many were),
I savored them because nothing
tastes as good as hope.

Because even on the bad days
when it seemed an eyelash
could set him off,
when he threatened
to leave the apartment
or this world,
still each night
he would murmur
into my ear that
these were the natural
ups and downs of love.

But there is nothing natural about war.

He was my comrade,
sinking into the trenches,
grasping at my face,
my arm,
my collarbone.
I wanted to rescue him.
If that meant
bearing his blows and
his slurred insults,
I would do it.
If I could’ve
swallowed his sadness,
I would have.

My friends considered me MIA,
but I reported for duty every day
and would’ve marched into death
if she hadn’t made me listen.
In that moment,
I realized I wasn’t his comrade,
but a prisoner of his war.
And after two years
and seven months,
I finally made
a break for it.

Some nights I find myself
clicking through old memories.
I marvel at the smiles
and the closeness and realize that
these are the images which remain
with me most vividly.

When time has had its way with me,
has softened the edges of my memory,
I’m afraid I’ll only remember his charms:

the crook of his arm,
the way he said
“Hey baby.”

I’m afraid I’ll miss these ideas of him.

But then
I remember those poets,
and how long they lived
in those trenches,
and the mornings
I spent crying
into my breakfast.

And now
when I pick up my pen,
it is heavy,
but it is firm.
I lean into it
like a staff
as I tread the ground
that hardened beneath me
the moment
I let you go.

The ink smudges my hands
like war paint.
I am bruised from battle,
but I am not
a casualty of his war.

I am free.
I am free.

I am mine.

2 thoughts on “A Casualty of His War: A Poem about surviving abuse, by Lucy

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