Hole

Puppet strings are bearing down on me
Trying to control the enemy inside me
Choking me
Destroying me.

There’s a hole in my soul
Which I filled with everything
but love.

(c) 2001

I lost my virginity in 2001. I was fifteen and my boyfriend – soon to be fiancé – was eight years older. He lived in a council-owned property with a nerdy Lloyd Grossman lookalike, at the end of a long, narrow street in Liverpool. Over time, he would move to my hometown to be closer to me. We were together for a couple of years, and there’s a reason why I have rarely mentioned him; simply because the thought of his face gives me panic attacks. 

During that time I was still struggling with anorexia. I’d gained a little weight, but my BMI was still too low. However, I’d walked away from the mental health system (as I’ve done many times) because all they could offer were pills and force-feeding. I was vulnerable – much younger than my fifteen years both physically and emotionally – and when a man eight years my senior paid attention to me… I jumped straight in. Didn’t give a damn about consequences or morals. I jumped in feet first and, by the time the relationship ended a couple of years later, I’d grown up immensely. I knew what it was like to be hit by a man. To be sworn at and locked in his flat. When he chased me down the road, hurling a full can of Coke at my head and pulling my hair until I hit the ground… I stayed. I stayed because I was desperate to be loved. 

We ended with his boot in my belly and a footprint on my face. Police and concerned strangers. My mobile smashed, shattered across the road. Black eyes and swollen fingers. My mother and auntie taking me to the police station to give a statement. And, finally, an injunction. A letter stating he couldn’t come within ten feet of me or contact me in any way. 

Still. He inspired poetry. 

I’ll write about him one day.

 

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43 Comments

  1. I am sorry that you went through but as someone who went through something similar at almost the same age I also have to say how awesome it is that you learned so much and left when you did. You sound like an amazingly strong woman who should be proud, not only for surviving, but for thriving.

  2. What a terrible situation & I’m glad you did get out of it. Not too similar, but my first love was when I was 15yo & he was 22yo. We went out for a little over a year. At the time I didn’t see the big deal, but I remember when I was 22yo thinking what was he doing with me? The idea of dating someone that young made me ill.

  3. I read the last bit of your poem “with everything but love” and then the beginning of your very honest (and quite horrific) story, “I lost my virginity in 2001″ and for just a split second there is hope that finally your had filled that empty space. I’m sorry that in reality that was not the case, but glad with the support of family you were finally able to be rid of it. Quite a brave write.

  4. Worked briefly for Dept. of Transitional Assistance in adjoining city. Learned there that it takes an average of 8 attempts before a battered woman finally decides to leave the abuser once and for all. Thank God you got away. Tough topic to write about, tough lessons learned, especially since you lived through it. Poetry is a great “therapist” though. Good luck to you. I hope all is well in your life now.

  5. Half,

    I am so very sorry that I missed this post. I discovered it while searching my various accounts for someone’s e-mail address. Perhaps it’s because I’m exhausted from staying up all night, being sick and worrying about issues related to my mother’s estate, or; perhaps it’s because I feel each word of both the poem and your recitation that I cannot find the words to adequately express how close you’ve come to my reality.

    I’ve never written of this before, but not only was I molested by my mother’s second husband, but he raped me as well. The rapes didn’t start until my insides were torn apart so badly by a 19-year-old boy when I was a 13-year-old child that I had to have surgery. I swore up and down that I fell when I had a tampon in, but no one was buying that. Since I wouldn’t deviate from the story, and since no one really wanted to hear the truth, they let it slide. Even so, I was placed in pediatrics with other CHILDREN when I was no longer a child thanks to my 19-year-old boyfriend.

    I’d met the boyfriend, Bart, at a friend’s house. He took a liking to me and, like you, I was very desperate for love. When I look back on how desperate I was not only for love, but for a savior, my heart breaks for the sliver of the child left after most of her had been completely ripped away by the repeated molestation. I didn’t tell anyone about the repeated molestation and rapes by my mother’s fuckhead of a husband until I was in my mid-20s. I didn’t even know what happened myself because my only escape was dissociation. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t dissociate with Bart, who kept telling me that if I didn’t have sex with him then he’d go to his ex-girlfriend and get it. I was frantic about hanging on to him. Therefore, I finally relented.

    I only wish the pain was mind-numbing! I felt the entire, seering, bloody episode. I didn’t know it then, but his penis had lacerated my vaginal wall and I was bleeding out when my mother and her husband found me trying to clean up our “half finished” basement before they came home and/or I couldn’t stand up. Bart, of course, had run away because he knew what I’d experienced wasn’t normal, even for a virgin. I’m sure he was also thinking of the fact he could be prosecuted for statutory rape. My mother was highly suspicious of what happened and rightfully blamed Bart. I know that she was responsible too, but I don’t blame her one bit for this. This was on me even though I was a child. I didn’t want to have sex, but I let him do it anyway.

    In some respects, Bart was kind of honorable. He was mixed race with a head of beautiful curly black hair. He was a big guy, too. That’s probably why I felt safe. His father was old-school Italian and his mother was black. No one ever talks about the fact that there were a whole lot of interracial relationships between Italian and Jewish men and black women. It’s something of an open secret in this city full of wonderful ethnic neighborhoods, even if some of them aren’t safe for a black person any time of day. One of my lovers in my late 20s , Joe, was an officer in the laborers’ union–a union that was heavily mob affiliated. I was treated extremely well and I genuinely enjoyed his company. Unfortunately, he died from a heart attack while I was in the hospital for something or another. I was shaken to the core. All I could do was write a note to his wife to tell her that he often spoke of her in loving tones and that he was a good friend. Those words were all true and she deserved to know that she was loved.

    At any rate, Bart brought me home to meet his mother and father. As I said, his dad was old-school Italian. That means it was within the range of “normal” for kids, especially girls, to marry at 15 or 16 years old. I was brought home to meet the parents because I was a potential bride. Remember, this was in the 70s, but tradition is tradition. Bart fancied himself part of a crew. What they did, I didn’t ask and didn’t want to know. I occasionally received gifts that I didn’t feel quite right about receiving, but did so anyway. I was afraid of him. No, I was absolutely terrified of losing him because, aside from the sex, I felt better about myself. He was my life raft, leaky though it was.

    I don’t remember how the end came about. I do remember that my mother had something to do with it, but I don’t remember what. She made me give him everything back. I was terrified of him hurting me physically. Sometimes he would come right up to the line and back off. Even years later he had a hold on me. I ran into him and I started to tremble. I was like a deer in the headlights, as the simile goes. He just smiled menacingly. I don’t know whether it was him who’d painted a picture of bodily harm in my head or my mother. Mom was, I hate to say it, very good at making me afraid of men. She did it with my biological father. I understand, intellectually, why she did it, but it was still wrong.

    So you see, Half, I know that hole only too well. I know what it’s like to try to fill the void that, in some ways, can only be filled with love of self. When we learn to love ourselves even a little, we can begin to gravitate toward those who are capable of loving us without harming us. I don’t want to presume to speak for anyone else, especially you, but one of the hardest things for me to do is see myself through the loving, caring eyes of someone else. I can look at myself and see my strengths and weaknesses, but I’m usually extremely critical of myself. Right now, I’m fighting the words of a suspected narcissistic cousin who told me that a certain project would fail even before he heard what it was. That hurt even though I know that he is the problem and not the project and certainly not me. It’s had me down for weeks, sitting just below the surface. He unearthed all of the self-doubt, insecurity and fear I thought I’d buried deeply enough for me to at least function as a business person. Yet, he got to them. And stupid me keeps trying to build a healthy familial relationship with him. I’m an idiot for doing so. He’s poison.

    In conclusion, m’dear, I hear ya; I feel ya. If you need to vent, my Inbox is but a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse away. YOU are the strong one, Half. You are the glass that’s half full and becoming more so as time passes.

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