The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.
Hope, my family always told me to believe in hope, no matter what the circumstances. But how can you remain positive when everything around you falls apart? How do you face life when it only gets worse?
My life hasn’t been easy. My parents divorced when I was two and, from what my mother told me, it was because my father was beating her.
Over the next couple of years, my mother had a new boyfriend every week until she met my stepfather. He wasn’t a good man either. He was a drug addict who used my mother as an ATM to feed his addiction. My mother was stupid enough to believe he loved her, which gave me a negative outlook on men, even if I still wanted to believe there was someone good for me out there.
The moment I turned sixteen, I left and never looked back. It’s been ten years and I don’t know if my mother ever tried to find me.
I managed to make something of my life; I found a job, a place to live and a boyfriend who quickly became my husband. My life became the dream I always hoped it would be, but it turned into a nightmare the first time my husband hit me.
A friend of ours had uploaded a picture of me dancing platonically with another man onto Facebook. My husband couldn’t make the party because he had to work late so the guy took pity on me sitting by myself. The moment my husband saw the picture he stormed over to me and slapped me across the cheek. He told me that it was my fault, that I must have done something to seduce my dance partner because there was no way he would have danced with me otherwise. And like a fool, I believed him
After that things calmed down for a while and I let myself hope that everything was back to normal, but the look of disgust in his eyes every time he drank chilled my blood. I didn’t know how to get away; I had nowhere to go and the few friends I had were our mutual friends so I couldn’t risk asking for help and them telling my husband where I had gone.
I tried to keep myself by escaping inside books, every love story gave me some hope to cling on to and dream about. All I have ever wanted was a loving relationship with a man who would look at me with adoration instead of disgust; who would want to spend time with me instead of ignoring me.
His repertoire of abuse developed into manipulation and mental abuse and I quickly became a shell of my former self. I couldn’t do what I wanted or go where I wanted without his approval. It took me a while to find the courage to leave him but my decision was made for me when he hit me the second time. I had been quietly reading a book whilst drinking a glass of wine when he drunkenly stormed into the living room. He then pulled the book from my hands and threw it in the open fire before yelling at me and insulted me; telling me that I didn’t deserve him and was nothing but a bit of skirt. By this stage he had me by my hair and he dragged me to stand. I remember seeing him pull his hand behind me before he struck, connecting with my face so hard that I lost my balance. He carried on screaming at me until his voice became hoarse and he stormed out of the apartment. It was in that moment, sitting on the floor with my arms around my knees waiting to see if he was coming back to finish the job, that I decided to pack my bags and disappear, once again. It seems history is destined to repeat itself.
Thanks to my husband, I lost any hope I had of finding happiness one day.
People always told me that I had done well for myself, I had a good life and was lucky to have a husband like him. Little did they know what an abusive man he was behind closed doors.
How can I be happy when the people who are supposed to love me only manage to hurt me?
Ten years ago I left the only house I’d ever known without regrets and, three days ago, I did it again.
I drove aimlessly for a couple of days and spent the time thinking about those books I love to read. They are my only happiness and the only thing that gives me a semblance of hope.
Tonight is the first night that I’ve allowed myself to do something that I want to do. I want to live and be myself, even just for one night.
Earlier today, I was handed a flyer for a new art gallery opening when I was walking around town. It’s not really the type of thing I’m into, but why not go anyway? I can do whatever I want to here without worrying about the consequences.
I make my way to one of the hostesses and take a glass of champagne. I don’t particularly like it, but it’s free so I can’t really complain. I take a sip and smile, it’s not as bad as I thought. Looks like tonight won’t be as bad as I thought. I feel happy, which is a first in a really long time. I walk around the gallery and take my time to really appreciate the paintings. I don’t know who the artist is, but they have a real talent.
There are so many people around that it’s making me a bit uneasy. Is anyone judging me? Do they know I’m poor and have no idea what to do with my life? I wonder if they can see the telling yellow tint on my cheek where my husband hit me.
I spend most of my time asking myself hundreds of questions about my life. Living alone doesn’t scare me and maybe I should have spent more time alone after I left my mother, instead of jumping into a relationship with the first guy I met who I thought might be my Prince Charming. What scares me the most is not living my life to the fullest and not being happy. I’ll be twenty-seven in a few days and I’m alone, homeless, jobless. I’ve been stood in front of a painting of a woman looking morose for quite some time now. Her long, auburn hair covers her shoulders and her big green eyes fixed on an invisible spot behind me. A dark shadow covers the corner of her lips and stretches over her pink cheek. She looks vulnerable, like she’s just lost everything. She looks like me.
I draw in a deep breath as the realization hits me. I quickly turn around and accidentally walk straight into someone. I look up at the man I just walked into and apologize before running out of the room. I need to put as much distance as I possibly can between the painting and myself. That painting is the mirror that I’ve refused to look in for years, unable to face my own distress and sadness. It’s ironic really, I judged my mother harshly for what happened to her but then let it happen to myself. Granted I left but I didn’t leave straightaway, I was sure he would change.
I take another deep breath when I finally get outside. I’m a mess, my makeup is running down my face, it’s cold and snowing, and I’m only wearing a tank top and a skirt. I wrap my arms around my body in an attempt to warm myself but it’s in vain. I turn around, ready to go back inside, when I bump into the same man I just walked into. I look up into his eyes and lose myself. In that moment, I forget everything. I forget that my mother never loved me, I forget that my husband didn’t either and I forget that I have nothing.
The stranger is looking at me as if I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen and it is in this moment that my hope returns.
Muriel Garcia © 2016
Muriel Garcia grew up in Belgium. She loves music, tattoos, hot tattooed men, travelling, and cooking. She always had an overly imaginative and creative mind but never thought of writing a book up until a couple of months ago. Now she couldn’t imagine not writing stories that are near and dear to her heart.
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Thank you so much for taking part Muriel!
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