In my last post I talked about some of the better memories from one of my oldest and most important relationships. I talked about how things were between Jon and I ... And I talked about how he was pretty much my first everything for a long time. My first kiss, my first real date, my first lover, my first proposal ...
My first act of domestic violence.
He worked at a car shop down the road from where we lived, and we stayed up late watching a movie on the living room floor one night. We fell asleep, and I woke up late with barely enough time to wake him and run him out the door so he wouldn't be late to work. I knew he'd be upset with me if I was up and didn't wake him, because then he'd be late to work and get in trouble. So I shook his shoulder ...
"Jon, wake up," I said. "You're gonna be late, Jonny, get up."
He didn't move. For some reason I always seem to get involved with think-headed men who sleep like the dead and yet expect me to be their volunteer alarm system. Then they get mad when I try to wake them as they've asked me to.
"Jon. GET UP." By that point I was annoyed, but keeping it to myself, knowing that when his blue eyes opened and his arms wrapped around me, all would be well again.
But he still wasn't getting up. So I went for his wulnerability. He was ticklish, just a little in the ribs. So I went for the tickle spot, lightly at first. I hoped it would rouse him enough that he'd finally get up. But it didn't.
It did wake him enough, however, for him to say sleepily, "If you don't quit that I'm gonna smack you."
Well, really. How often do people say that to each other? Just kidding around? Lots, in my crew back then, we were the kind of crowd that called each other "b*tch" and "hoe" affectionately. So I didn't think anything of it, and I went after him again, lightly, as before.
But he really did it.
He really slapped me. I remember it as vividly as if I were watching it fro outside myself, or like it's permanently recorded into the digital hard drive of my mind, always ready for instant playback. His long, lanky body was sprawled out on the floor, on his back with one arm under his head and the other laying on his stomach. I was sitting on my knees beside him, on his left side. He slapped my cheek, and it wasn't hard ... it didn't hurt or even sting. But I reeled back in shock, sat down hard next to him.
By the time I really realized what had happened, so had he, and he was apologizing almost before the moment was real. He pulled me into his chest because even though my face had not suffered from the slap, the emotional sting brought me instantly to tears. He knew about my past. He knew about my father who is an angry person (although he has never been unduly violent with me. I am told I was spanked but don't remember.). He knew about my mother's second marriage to a man who had tried to murder her and almost succeeded on several occasions. He knew! How could he do that to me?
Eventually, I made his excuses for him, excuses that he didn't make for himself. To his credit, he never made excuses, never placed the blame on me, and he never raised his hand to me in any way ever again even though our relationship lasted through other hurts. But I excused him.
"I shouldn't have tried so hard to wake him."
"I shouldn't have tickled him to wake him."
"I should have stopped when he told me to."
"I should have just let him be late."
"It's not like I should have been shocked ... he warned me."
Over time, it became almost like he had a right to slap me, almost like I asked for it, because he had said he would do it, but I persisted.
How silly is that? If he could wake up enough to speak to me, or hit me, why couldn't he just wake up and get ready for work? And why do I always pick guys who put me in the "wake-me-up-or-I'll-be-late-and-it'll-be-your-fault" position? Better yet ... why do I allow it?
But as I said in the last post, healing comes from the strangest places. Apparently, I left my own marks on him. We have been back in touch for a while now, and Jon has found a lot of comfort in us being able to talk about the past. He has apologized a lot, and has been happy to be forgiven. We have talked about his cheating, we have talked about a lot of things ... yesterday just before I posted, we talked about the slap.
And suddenly, I feel better. I feel better having confronted him with what he did to me. I feel better having talked about it. I feel better, having stood my ground. And I feel better because as much as it was wrong and awful ... I learned a lot from that experience. I learned to set boundaries. Maybe I didn't learn as well as I should have, because like I said, I still tend to end up begging some bonehead to get up for work and he doesn't do it until I threaten to leave him sleeping and let him get fired.
But I learned a physical boundary that will protect me from what my mother went through. I learned a physical boundary that will not allow any man to ever make me accept that kind of treatment. I learned a physical boundary that has allowed me to physically defend myself on several other occasions against different men who in one way or another just went too far.
So although the memories from my relationship with Jon are not all good, and the feelings are muddled and confused ... the lessons are precious. And because of the cleared airwaves, the friendship he wants is okay with me.
It's funny where wounds can find healing, isn't it?