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  • 19, pregnant and getting married, partly because it was the socially right thing to do.
    The dress was not white – not by a long-shot. Who would believe "pure as a virgin"? Innocence, heck, that was snow white and naivety close by, a brilliant white.
    We were married and at our reception I discovered him to be an alcoholic. An aggressive one at that too. Our marriage was a bed of roses: thorns by the dozen with the occasional fragile, fragrant bud when he was passed out or away on business or in another AA home.
    20, our daughter was born and often lay screaming, amazingly aware yet innocent of the damage caused shielding her during many of his inebriated assaults. Not a finger could he lay on her, no matter what I looked like or felt like or walked like afterwards. I was loathe to tell my parents, what would or could they do, they lived miles away - and I practiced instinctive defence moves anyhow. I was a big girl now.
    But no, at no point did I think it was because of me or something that I may have done, neither did he lead me to believe so. It was just the alcohol in control, he totally submersed, captive in it claws. He really is a wonderful person; intelligent, caring, honest , responsible and full of laughter to name but a few when not under the influence and whether it was by genes or want or circumstance, alcohol had its hold on him, tightening its grip each month that passed. His assaults on me and things around him was never intentional. I spent what felt like a life time, aching for him to re-emerge, longing for the the man he is.
    But a time came while being kicked into a corner after a day with his alcoholic parents, I decided enough was enough and I rose up, punched him in the face, calmly collected my daughter from his arms and watched him fall. Blood seeped from his broken nose as he lay KO or passed out there just inside the entrance for the next 2 and half hours and I spent that time righting then what I could in my life, cold to his addiction and its ramifications. We couldn't leave then, not yet, but things would change; I made my mind up about that.
    They did. Avowing abstinence, and though mostly a battle against all odds, such incidences lessened; he enrolled once more into a Home and stuck it out for 2 weeks. But after watching his aching need tearing him apart, seeing his suffering through withdrawal, and listening to his begging me to make it end - he had authorised my exclusive consent for release during admission - swallowing tears and possible regret, I signed him back home.
    His release called for a celebration and round whatever number dinged. But this time I fought back, thus halting the battering. But it never ended. I began to lose faith, began to crumble, to white out.
    3 months separation; him beseeching our return; promises of total abstinence really meant, etc., etc., I returned; hopeful, trusting, blonde. He spent a week celebrating our return and I spent a week hiding from public eyes, keeping my daughter as close as I possibly could, she bewildered but still unscathed.
    18 months from our wedding day - each month near the same with the police at the door at least once a week, pounding to get in, to save the damsels in distress; furniture broken, my clothes and paintings hacked or slashed to ribbons, her toys shattered in heaps, my sense of self now shredded, frayed into threads; him powerless in its grip, pistol held to my head, then ashamed and disgusted, pressed hard to his - we were divorced. I had reached my end of the road, took a turning and walked us away from harm.
    I chalked it up to experience, a dot or two on my learning curve; rueful smile, my shoddy choice morphed into wisdom.
    I can still hear my resounding 'thank you' resonating off the vaulted ceiling, see the delightfully shocked, then smugly amused expressions on the judge's face; and I guess, actually bet, mine was the widest grin of relief he had ever seen in his courtroom. I made it to the train-station just in time.

    Your story sucker-punched me, my heart constricted, I couldn't breath, your succinct words slam-dunked me right back to then and in my knowing, tears for your pain welled instantly; and I weep, ma'am. I weep for her and I weep for you. And for all those who have lived it and fear it.

    image: mine, moved on. megan
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