I walked into a door today. Not through an open door. I just walked right into the door. I ended up with a lovely bruise to show for my troubles too. Because it isn’t enough for the people who were near by to witness my inability to read and follow the instructions to open the door. That would be too simple. So I have a lovely bruise that has generated a lot of questions from people.
Some very concerned people asked me if I had been hit or abused. Which I understand as we are more “aware” of violence now. Well perhaps that’s not the right wording, I doubt we were ever unaware of violence, but rather that socially it isn’t tolerated and therefore people are more likely to think in those terms these days. At any rate when I said I walked into a door, for some people, it meant I was hit. I wasn’t. I walked into a door. This time.
I do appreciate the concern and am grateful, truly grateful that we can speak about violence, abuse and such now. Except we can’t always do that. Because as much as we’ve brought this issue into focus, we still haven’t really been able to understand abuse and why people stay in those situations.
As someone who was in an abusive relationship at one point in her life, I have used excuses in the past to hide bruising. Although I don’t think I ever said that I walked into a door. But I can see how someone might see that as an excuse. I had a lot of items stored on higher shelves that would fall on me when I tried to reach them while standing on my tiptoes. At least that’s what I told everyone. It isn’t just because my abuser told me no one would believe me if I said I was being abused.
The thing about abuse is that it becomes how things are. It isn’t so easy to just walk away from someone who you are emotionally invested in. You have hope that this time the person will change, that things will be different this time. Sometimes you believe that you deserve to feel the impact of fists on your flesh, the sharpness of kicks in your ribs reminds you just how much you need to try harder. After all you aren’t’ perfect and this person is really just trying to help you. Until one day something happens.
In my case the something was realizing that I was tired of hiding by wearing long sleeves even in summer. Or pants. Or makeup. I even artfully arranged my hair to hide bruises and cuts at times. And then one day I just stopped. Well I ran away, but I stopped hiding. Because I was afraid if I didn’t get away I’d be dead. The funny thing was I was more scared of how my death wouldn’t be noticed as a murder so to speak, as I’d be dead because I was clumsy after all.
And while I’ve run from that part of my life, and I’ve dealt with it, you never really leave it all behind. So when I saw the bruise form on my face I wondered how I’d hide it, if I even could hide it. And when people noticed I watched them give me that look when I told them how it happened.
Sometimes a bruise is just a part of something bigger, and sometimes, it’s just a bruise.