The Night My Life Changed 

“I don’t even want to do anything tonight, ” he said. I was annoyed. I had planned so much for him tonight and he didn’t want anything to do with it. No one even wanted to come until I begged them to. I had to message his own friends myself and ask them to come out for his birthday because no one wanted to. I picked him up a bit early, as usual, and he came over to my apartment. He was so whiny. “I’m not in a good mood” he snapped at me more than once. I was doing so much for him and he couldn’t even shut up to appreciate it. At this point, I just wanted the night to be over. I was already exhausted of his nagging and pouting and after all, it was a Wednesday night. I had been excited to do all of this for him, but at this point, I was ready to get in my pj’s and go to bed. He continued his nagging the entire time I was getting ready. One thing after another bothered him. I put down my mascara and went over to my bed where he was sprawled out. I laid down next to him and tried to hold him as close as I could. “I just want you to be happy”. It was true. I just wanted his happiness.

I didn’t care if anyone even ended up coming, I was determined to make it a good night for him. I found it a rather special night since we started being a “thing” per say around his last birthday a year ago. I figured we had made it so far, and it had it’s ups and downs, but I still loved him. Yea he hit me a few times, but he assured me it wasn’t abuse. We sat down together and looked up the definition of domestic violence. Yea, that’s right, I was dumb enough to sit down with the guy who ended up breaking my face, and researching his abuse. Of course, he was going to convince me what he was doing to me wasn’t abuse, that it was normal. So I stuck with it.

I continued to get ready as he laid on my bed. I would continually hear a moan or a groan, but I ignored it, knowing that if I brought it up, he would explode. I felt like I was walking on eggshells. Everyone was coming soon and I had to put on a smile. I had to because I had essentially begged everyone else to come that night. If I looked unhappy, then everyone was sure to leave. I couldn’t let him down like that. I had to make it perfect. I tried to cheer him up once more before the night started. He agreed that he was in a bad mood and that he would try to make an effort. It calmed me down for the time being. Everyone began arriving and he began drinking. And I mean drinking. One after the other faster than I could fathom. In the matter of an hour, he went from making me feel like crap, to treating me like a princess. He started touching me and hugging me and kissing me. He never does this in front of everyone so I’m thrown off, but I let it happen. The night seems to be a blur. I follow him everywhere, continually feeling the eggshells under my feet. I lose him for a second once we get to the bar. I see him walk out from the bathroom with someone and I know exactly what he was doing in there. I brush it off and continue to try to please him. After many drinks out, we go back to his fraternity. I feel a bit tipsy but mostly just delirious from my drowsiness. He’s extremely drunk but I brush that off as well, it is his 21st after all. I pretend not to be bothered by his obnoxious drunkenness that I’m oh so used to.We walk up the stairs and I make a beeline for his room.

I’m so tired. I have school in the morning and I’m ready for bed. I grab my sleep shirt in the corner and take off my shorts. My eyes get heavy as I try to tuck myself into bed. He starts to yell. I am so delirious I am not sure why he’s upset now. I felt it coming all night since he started it in a bad mood. I tried to ignore it and roll over but he threatened me. He begins to raise his voice and yells at me to get the fuck out of his bed. I try to ignore it once again, he’s just drunk. But this time he yells at me again, saying he’s going to call my mother. “I could have any girl in my bed right now” he laughs. “I’m calling your mom to get you the fuck out of here”. He starts laughing to himself. The heat starts rising in my face. How dare he threaten me with another girl?  How can he say he’s going to force me out of his room after all I did for him tonight? I try to get up from his bed but I feel pushed down. Everything goes black. I have a flash of a fist coming towards my face. And black again. Another fist coming towards my face from below. And black again. Panic. He’s panicking. My eye my eye why does my eye hurt? My eye hurts and I don’t know why. He’s standing over me in the bathroom stall. “I’m sorry I’m sorry” he’s begging. I’m leaning over the toilet and letting him pat my face. I don’t know what’s happening. Where am I. Who am I with. Why does my face hurt? Black again. He’s panicking. But I feel okay. A weird sense of calm washes over me. I fade to black once again.

I’m cold. I’m so cold. Water is washing over me and it warms me up but only for a minute until a new wave of warm water hits my skin. I hear a bickering of voices in the background but my mind blocks it out. My mind is focused on the warm water washing over my face. My mouth has a metallic taste but I can’t seem to figure out why. I still haven’t come to the conclusion of why I’m standing in the shower, but I know I don’t want to leave. I feel safe. The voices start to meander over closer to me. I start to feel people’s hands rubbing my back and I flinch. I realize who it is and I let them take me out of the shower. The second the warm water leaves my face a rush of pressure hits my eye. It starts pulsating and beating fast. What happened? What on earth happened to me? I get wrapped in a towel and taken down the stairs. It starts to hit me where I am. I’m only wearing a shirt and underwear. I don’t even realize it at the time. I’m walked down the familiar steps that I’ve walked down way too many times. I start to see the lights outside. It still isn’t hitting me what’s going on. My mind is protecting me from the pain of remembering what I just went through. I’m walked into the kitchen and sat down in a chair. It’s weird being in here without all the flashing lights and the people. It’s so dark. I can barely see a thing. I wonder how everyone else can see without the lights on. A cop approaches me and sits across from me. There’s the weird familiar sound of cops buzzing all around me. Their stern voices can be heard from the doorway. I can’t see anything around me. I have no sense of peripheral vision and it makes me feel uneasy. Someone’s hand rubs my back and I sink into it, feeling a tad bit safer. The cop sits down in front of me. I feel the pressure in my eye build up and feel water dripping down my face. The water reaches my mouth and I realize it’s not water. Its blood. Why is there blood dripping down my face? Instantly I know exactly what happened. He hit me. I don’t know how or why. But I know he’s in trouble. My mind goes instantly to him. Is he okay? Where is he? I want to hold his hand. The cop starts asking me if I want to press charges. “No please no” I beg him. “I don’t want him to get in trouble I love him”. The cop explains to me that he’s going to jail whether I press charges now or not. I can’t make this decision right now. It’s too fresh. I’m still not sure what happened to me. I just know that I love him. “Please don’t” I beg. I notice a girl staring at me from behind the corner. I feel her eyes feeling sorry for me. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m that girl. I’m the girl everyone will feel sorry for. I don’t want to be pitied. I beg the police officer to not press any charges. I beg and beg. I’m not coherent in any way. I don’t know where he is. I panic and panic What’s going to happen? He’s not going to be okay. He’s never going to forgive me for this. The water and blood continue to drip down my face. I start to get cold again and wish that I was standing in the warm shower. I try as hard as I can to remember what happened before the shower for the police. But no memory is coming to me. I try and try to remember but the only memory that seems to reach the forefront is the memory of the warm water. I feel heavy hands on my shoulders and I know it’s my dad. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed to be sitting here in this position. I don’t want my dad to see me like this. “Where is he? Is he ok?” I don’t even know if the words are coming out of my mouth but the thoughts run through my head on a continual loop. I don’t want him in trouble. All I can think about is him. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. I’m still confused as to how everyone else can see with all of the lights off. I think I’m okay. I’m not in pain so I must look okay. Every other time he hit me I was okay so this time must be the same. Everyone is overreacting. I wish everyone had just left us alone to figure it out. I can’t believe they took him away from me. We could have just talked about it. They don’t understand. My dad walks me out, wrapped in his jacket that I’ve now ruined with my wet hair. I quietly and non-discretely look around for him. He has to be somewhere. But I can’t find him anywhere. My dad hurries me to the car so we can drive to the emergency room. I’m not really sure why we’re going but now I start to think that maybe my face is a lot worse than I think. I am so out of it that I don’t second guess that I’m walking into the emergency room in my underwear. My memory cuts off again. Black. I’m cold. I’m staring at the ceiling.

My memory cuts off again. Black. I’m cold. I’m staring at the ceiling. In movies they always make you feel like you’re trapped. Laying down on a hospital bed and staring at bright yellow, blinding lights. That’s how it is right now. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know why. I feel stuck. Trapped. I can’t move or speak. I hear nothing around me but the buzzing of some machines and the soft hum of voices in the distance. A sense of panic sets in before I settle into complete darkness again.

This time when I come too I feel the pressure. My eye feels tied down to the back of my head. I start to feel pain surrounding my mouth where the iron taste of blood lingers. Too much air seems to be hitting my teeth. My lips are holding my mouth open too wide. I wonder how my mouth is even swollen. I feel cold hands on my arm and flinch. I feel like I’m stuck in a paralysis and no one knows that my mind is racing. The world around me is spinning and buzzing but I am still. I am still but my mind is a constant racing thought. Everyone around me seems to be oblivious to the fact that I’m conscious. The nurse yells at me to stay still but I don’t remember telling my body to move. She pins my arm down harder and I internally flinch from the pain. She stabs a needle in my arm and I lose consciousness again.

I come to once again but still feel paralyzed. I try to remember where I am once again. I can only focus on the bright yellow light above me. I fade out of it again.

Pain. It hits me at once. I come to again. I realize I need to pee. It’s been hours since I’ve gotten up. Who knows if the sun is up or not. I try to sit up and the pressure comes rushing like a boulder down a hill to my face. My eye feels as if it’s about to explode out of my own face. I slow myself down and it seems to take years for me to sit up. A nurse walks me to the bathroom. I try as hard as possible to avoid all reflective surfaces. I stare down at the ground as I feel everyone’s harsh stares. All eyes are on me as I walk down the hallway of the emergency room. Once at the bathroom I look straight to the ground. I can’t look at myself. I can feel the pain now and know that it can’t be pretty. I realize the reason I thought the lights have been off had been because my eye is swollen shut. I’ve been walking around in the darkness. It feels as if my eye has been clamped shut. Warm fluid runs from it down my face and I try to hurry to avoid the mirror. I catch a slight glance of myself at the sink and my stomach sinks. I look down as fast as possible. I leave the bathroom to find myself lost. I have no idea how I got there and not a great memory of why I was there. I try to go in a direction that felt familiar. I find myself at the end of a hallway and in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. A crew of nurses are working to resuscitate an older man and I stand in shock. What am I doing here? I’m frozen. The world around me gets darker and darker. I feel like I’m dreaming and I forget how to work my legs. I’m a bloody zombie walking around in a hospital robe. A male nurse rushes over to me. “You’re not from this unit” he snaps at me. “I don’t know where I came from,” I tell him. He tries to convince me that I wasn’t in the emergency room but I am pretty certain that I was. I start to believe him until he grabs my wrist and realizes that I was indeed from the emergency room. I tell him once again that I have no idea where I came from or what I was doing there. I somehow return back to my bed and have no memory of how I got there. I lay back down and again, fade into darkness.

I try continually to reach back into my mind and pull out the memories from that night. I haven’t been able to regain any of the blackouts. I’ve tried over and over again, but have never been successful. I am still not sure what lead to him hitting me. I am not sure how it happened either. I will never know what happened that night to make him react like that. Some parts of me wish I could talk to him just to ask what was going through his head. Another part of me wants to know if he’s sorry. But I know that I need to move on in my life without those answers.

I suffered two orbital fractures. There was a fracture along the bridge of my nose and another on my orbital floor. My eye was swollen shut for more than a week. I avoided all mirrors for that time and didn’t see how bad my eye was until I looked back on the police report pictures. I don’t remember the cat scan from the emergency room. I barely remember the doctors coming to check me out. I don’t remember them taking out all six of my earnings for the cat scan. I found three of them in a hospital bag later covered in blood. I found the other three recently in a bag he had given to my friends to give back to me. All of the earring backs were completely bent at a 90-degree angle. I don’t know how or why he took them out that night. My eye was recessed into my head by 2 millimeters. It was visually smaller than my right eye. I had to wear fake eyelashes for months because my left eye looked so deformed. I had surgery about a month after. The ophthalmologist told me I needed immediate surgery. The tissue in my eye could get sucked into my fracture and result in dropping on the left side of my face. I was at a high risk for double vision. He also wanted to fix the recess of my eye and bring it forward. The surgery was cosmetically successful. However, since then I have had eye pressure and pain. I am due for a cat scan soon with an ENT and hopefully, there is no infection and it is healing well. I have a small scar above my eye that always reminds me of him. I thought it would fade, but it is still there.

We are still dealing with the legal side of it. It seems never ending, but I am strong enough to not give up. I can’t say too much about that besides the fact that it has been following me for months and months. He has been lingering around in my life for months and months. Some days I think I can’t do it anymore, but I also remind myself that he can’t do that to me. The rest of my life will be defined by this night. I think about it every morning and every night. He haunts my dreams at night and my day dreams during the day. This night has changed me and will haunt me for as long as I live. It has changed me physically and emotionally. I cannot remember half of the night. But what I do remember plays back in my head like a broken record. The dark memories creep up on me when I least expect it. I disappear into my memories and completely lose myself from the real world. When I see him in court I freeze. My stomach turns into knots. My palms turn into a sweaty mess as I attempt to calm myself down. He brings back a rush of memories, half of them a black mess. As I sit there in his vicinity I get cold. So cold that I’m brought back to that night. The cold. The water rushing over my skin. The happiness I felt in the warmth of the soothing water before I realized what had happened. When he had hit me so hard that I was completely out of it. When he had hit me so hard that I had no idea where I was for two days. When he hit me so hard that a block of memories left my mind forever, to be forgotten and buried by a black curtain for the rest of my life.