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Prince Saved My Life

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Prince Rogers Nelson, that purple-loving pint-sized bundle of musical virtuosity, died today. As with the rest of the world I mourn his passing. His music was the soundtrack to my first year of college. My college friend, Amy, and I would sit in my room at our small Southern liberal arts women’s college listening to his albums over and over and over – dapurplerain_124pyxurzncing and singing and feeling ever so naughty (have you ever READ some of his lyrics? Sex. Sex. Sex.) Together, she and I must have seen his movie Purple Rain about 20 times in the theatre. Amy even had her hair cut in that curly asymmetrical style he rocked in the movie. I practically lived in a black cape, like the one his love interest in the film wore. For two girls who felt out-of-place in that small Southern town, he gave us some weird sort of strength. Well, at least for me there was a reason for the strength he gave me.

You see, a few weeks before I left for college and met Amy, Prince indirectly saved my life.

As I have written before, in my senior year of high school I was in a terrible, horrible, emotionally abusive relationship. He kept me under his thumb by making threats as to what he would do to himself if I ever left. And because of some odd sense of responsibility for his well-being, I put up with it all and I stayed. I felt so small. So helpless. So powerless. But, that’s how those kinds of relationships work, isn’t it? There is always one with all the power and one with none.

But, despite all the emotional turmoil he put me through on a daily basis, he hadn’t hit me. That’s what I told myself on a daily basis to justify his behavior. It could be worse. He could have hit me.

In late July 1984, just a few short weeks before I was to leave for college, Purple Rain hit the theaters. Opening weekend, the abusive jerk and I went to see it (I had to pay because, well, I had to pay for everything because the idiot couldn’t hold a job, but I digress). He didn’t want to go, but I somehow convinced him, and as long as I was paying, he grudgingly agreed.  I loved the movie. Oh, sure, the acting isn’t the best. And the story is weak. But, the music. THE MUSIC! Amazing. BTW – the abusive jerk hated it. Quelle suprise.

About half way through the movie, there is a scene when “The Kid” (Prince himself) slaps his girlfriend, Apollonia, to the ground.

A shock ran through me. I had an epiphany. Right there, in the middle of the movie, I turned to my abuser and said, “If you ever hit me, even once, I will leave you. I promise I will.” Of course, he said he wouldn’t. And a small part of me wanted to believe him. Really. I did.

It wasn’t long – a week maybe – until he backhanded me, sent me backwards into a bathtub where I whacked the back of my head, and passed out for a moment. When my vision cleared, I climbed out of the tub, gathered my things, and walked out the door. Never to look back again.

You see, I made a promise – to myself and to him – that I would never let that happen. So, I left.

Even now, thirty-two years later, I am positive that if I had not made that promise and if I had not walked out, I probably would have died in that relationship.

I am still not sure what gave me the courage to look at my abuser in the middle of that movie and draw my line in the sand, but I did.

Maybe I was caught up in the music.

So, thank you, Prince. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the memories. But, most of all, thank you for saving my life.

Rest in peace, our sweet Prince. See you in that world of never ending happiness – the after world.

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When Your Past Comes Screaming into Your Present…

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I love Facebook.  Really, I do.  I mean I have gotten back in touch with friends I hadn’t seen in YEARS.  It has been great.  Back in the day, you had to wait for a reunion or something to reconnect with folks.  And if they weren’t there, well, you continued to wonder what happened to them.  Of course, there were those that you didn’t want to see again.  The ones you DREADED walking in and finding them there.   I have been lucky.  The one person in my life whom I hope to never see again (the high school boyfriend I wrote about in my post Just Turn Around and Walk Away) has yet to reappear.  And I am fine with that.  Grateful, in fact.

This morning, I pulled up Facebook to see what was happening in the lives of my friends and I had a friend request from someone from high school.  I accepted it and popped over to her page to see what she had been up to in low these past 29 years.   A person on her friend list made my past come screaming into my present.  No.  It wasn’t that evil son-of-a-bitch ex-boyfriend.  If it had been, I probably would have unfriended – and then blocked or something so that bastard couldn’t find out anything about me.  However, it was someone who was intertwined with the whole crazy situation.  The “other girl.”  The girl he was seeing while he was seeing me.

My heart stopped for a minute.  I hadn’t expected it.  Crap.  It’s her.  I couldn’t resist though…I went to her page.  I just had to see.  The curiosity was killing me.  How was she doing?  Was she with him?  Were there pictures of him?  Oh, Lord.  Please don’t let there be.  I just don’t think I could handle it…

So, I started perusing her pictures (Niiiiiiice!  Low privacy settings!)  She looked so happy.  Married.  Does triathalons.  Strong, literally and figuratively (DAMN!  How’d she get muscles like that?!?)  Full of joy.  And absolutely no reference to that crazy bastard.  Thank God.

I finally exhaled.  I think I had been holding my breath the entire time I was checking out her page.

And in that moment, I found myself happy for her.

In that moment, I found myself wondering he had left her as royally fucked up as he did me.

In that moment, I no longer saw her as my high school rival – my combatant – but, as a fellow survivor.

I don’t know if he ever laid a hand on her, like he did to me.  But, I know the emotional toll being “in love” with him had to have caused.  I know, because I lived it, too.

At the time, though, she and I didn’t blame him.  We blamed each other.    To me, she wasn’t a victim.  She was the girl who (at least how he told the story) convinced him at the last-minute (literally at the last-minute.  Like he called me from her house when he went to pick her up) to take her to the Duran Duran concert I had been looking forward to seeing for months.  She was the girl who (at least how he told the story) tried to convince him to take HER to senior prom, instead of me – after all, I had already paid for everything (because his mother had thrown him out of her house and he was living at my father’s house).  She was the girl (or at least how he told the story) who tried to convince the entire band that I was a man-stealing-slut who should be shunned, causing a rift between choir members (who took my side) and band members (she played in the band…HE was a flag twirler…no I am not kidding…).

We were horrible to each other.   We would scream at each other in the parking lot – calling each other the worst possible names.  She would prank call my house – and threaten me.  I did not refer to her by her name.  To me she was simply The Whore.  My senior yearbook has her name and face completely blacked out – while his has hearts drawn around it.

We both thought, “It wasn’t HIS fault.  It was HERS!  She deserves everything she gets!  The bitch!”

One’s senior year should be one of happiness and joy.  A time to make memories to last a lifetime.  Unfortunately, the lifelong memories left by that year are ones I really wish I could forget.  It was horrible.  Truly horrible.

I ran into them once, months after I turned around and walked away from him.  She had “taken him back.”  If I remember correctly, she gloated about it, showing off a ring he had given her.  And while there was no way in hell I wanted him back, I remember being angry he went back to her.  It felt like the ultimate slap in the face.  Not only had I been replaced…I had been replaced by HER.  Damn it!  Damn him!  Damn HER!  I hate them!

I had spent all these years wondering if she had married the asshole.  Not jealous, but scared for her.  Worried that his pattern of abuse had continued, and that she was still living it.

Today, as I lurked on her page and saw her smiling face, I felt relief.  Relief that she too had escaped.  Relief that she too had managed to pick up the shattered pieces of her psyche and go on with her life.  Relief that she was happy.

And in that moment, as my past came screaming into my present, I also felt regret.  Regret for having hated her.  Regret for having called her a whore.  Regret for taking it out on her.

It wasn’t her fault.  It was his.  He stole from us.  He stole our joy.  He stole our youth.  He stole our trust.

But, he will NEVER be able to steal from the strong women we have become.  Despite and in spite of him.

HELLS YEAH!

Just Turn Around and Walk Away

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Tell us about a time you did a 180 — changed your views on something, reversed a decision, or acted in a way you ordinarily don’t.

via Daily Prompt: 180 Degrees.

Isn’t it funny how the faceless word of blogging can give you the courage to reveal things that you haven’t told many people in your life?  This is one of those things.

My senior year of high school, I dated a very very bad man.  He was controlling, even taking a job at the same place I was working so he could keep an eye on me.  For just about the whole time he and I were “together,” he was also “going with” another girl.  A freshman.  And of course, all of her friends took it out on me.  At the same time, he was already planning my entire future.  He was emotionally abusive, threatening to kill himself if I ever left him.

It was the worst time of my life.

Yet, for some reason, I didn’t “break-up” with him.  I loved him.  Or what I perceived was love in my 17 year-old brain.  And I was terrified of what he could do.  I believed all his threats to his own safety.

He was threatened by my going away to college.  As the time drew closer, he grew increasingly more controlling.  He frequently would tell me that he would not allow me to go.  I began to be worried for my safety.  But, I told him that of course we would stay together.  That I’d be home for breaks.  That he could visit me.  That we could make it work.

Then came the day of my 180 turn.

The day I knew I had to get out of the relationship.

Four days before I was to leave for college.

The day he attempted to slit his wrists – in front of me – as an attempt to get me to stay.

The day, when as I was trying to stop him from doing it, he shoved me and I fell backwards and knocked my head on the edge of the tub and blacked out for a moment.

The day I looked at him and told him he would never see me again.

The day I took control of things.

The day I turned around and walked away.

The day that potentially saved my life.

The day I have held close inside and have shared with very few.

Today I share it with you.