The (almost) End of the Chapter

Almost. I hate that. I so badly wanted for this to be the end, but unfortunately what we want, and reality don’t often align.

15 months later on the morning of May 14th, there I was, sat in the waiting area at Brisbane’s Magistrates Court, eager to finally close what has been an incredibly tumultuous chapter.

The police prosecutors were briefed and ready to fight a battle I desperately wanted to win and that we collectively as women need to win.

Now that it was finally here and happening, I couldn’t help but hate myself for putting myself through this… opening tender wounds that were just now properly healing. Was this all worth it?

The last time I saw him, his hand was wrapped tightly around my neck, a fire of pure hatred burning in his eyes, threats of indenting my skull leaving his mouth.

That memory… it lingered above all else. I’d be asked to recall it repeatedly and to be completely honest, I wasn’t quite sure if that was something I was ready to do despite having had more than a year to process.

It was finally time. I’d have to face him again after more than a year and we’d be merely 15 metres apart. Heavy.

There was something in the air that morning. I was emotionless; not scared or anything close. For someone who’d been anxiously anticipating this day for what seemed like eternity, it felt almost too easy. I joked around prior, perhaps to conceal my actual discomfort, that I’d wear my pink Manning Cartell suit and strut into court ready to Elle Woods the shit out of that room. In reality, I was struggling to predict how I’d actually react and this fear of the unknown was eating away at me. Would I crumble in his presence, laugh at his predicament or both? My gut was telling me that as soon as I laid eyes on him, I’d buckle and the traumas I’d worked tirelessly to suppress would cast a shadow on me once again.

While I seemed unbothered and astoundingly emotionless about the entire situation, in reality I was struggling without even realising it. I forgot to look after me and some substantial elements of what make my body tick. I found that I was unravelling in the sense that I didn’t realise I hadn’t stopped to take care of myself and my needs for weeks.. just the every day things that I need to do to maintain my health which I’ve worked really hard to rebuild. Physically, my body was suffering extreme neglect.

Early on, I developed this intense vengeance against him, this hunger for justice that entirely consumed me. This hatred was so vicious that it inhibited my ability to be present. At times, I’d sacrifice my mental stability and self and succumb to the pressure of being the heroine among us. I had the power. I wanted to and was determined to be the one to right his wrongs against women past and present.

I’d agree in saying it was, is and will continue to be my life’s greatest challenge and most difficult obstacle to overcome.

It’s funny because I developed such anxiety about this day so early on too. I was fearing the inevitable and while it was so far off at that time and not really even a reality, it still seemed like it was just around the corner.

I was confident, not in the outcome but more so in the sense that I’d finally reached a point where I’d unequivocally decided that wasting my emotions on something as worthless as him was beneath me. That goes a long way… I knew that I wouldn’t dwell, whatever the final verdict.

It’s quite profound to encounter someone who leaves a permanent stamp on your identity. Not that they define you as such, but more that your behaviour and mentality are permanently altered because of someone’s wrong actions.

But things are different now; my life, my sense of self. I’m stronger.

12 months on I reflect on what has been.

Looking back on the year just passed, it’s been much like a rollercoaster ride that took off before I even got the chance to strap in.

I graduated, against odds and despite my unfortunate predicament. I can’t believe what I’ve been able to achieve despite what a difficult year it’s been for me. I’m in awe of myself really.

Fast forward to January, as a jobless graduate eager for her big break, I struggled with the uncertainty of what I wanted from my future. I really didn’t know what was next or what I wanted to come next. I just knew, whatever it was, it wasn’t in Brisbane. Then just like that, when I least expected it, I took the plunge, moved cities by myself and started this entirely new dream like life that seemed so far removed from my norm.

I needed to, for me.

In reality, I was drowning.

I really was flailing my arms in a panic as a I gasped for air in rough waters.

The demons of that treacherous relationship continued to haunt me relentlessly ensuring that my identity was permanently stamped black and my heart remained cold. I was trapped in a concrete house, there was a door and a window but I was too scared to even peer out.

It was almost like I was living like fugitive in my own city. I’d escaped him but always seemed to be running and cowering in the his shadow with fear… treading carefully wherever I went. I’d consciously avoid going to certain places or doing certain things. Despite the relationship ending, he still had control in so many ways and I kind of just accepted that.

I had actively started applying for jobs in Sydney under the pretence that I was in pursuit of my fashion dreams and career goals, which is mostly true… but I needed out. I’ll admit that… I ran away, chasing a much needed breath of fresh air.

Just a week before I was set to embark on this new journey, in pursuit of this fresh start I had been craving for so long and just when I thought I’d locked that dark door and disposed of the key, leaving the demons clamouring to be set free on the other side, I got a call from a blocked number. Thinking it was about a job, I answered, eagerly awaiting to hear a potential employer on the other side of the line. Instead, I was met with the stern and solemn voice of a police officer who told me the news I’d waiting more than an entire year to hear…they had found and charged him and the matter was finally going to trial.

It felt almost like my heart just stopped beating as this huge wave of absolute relief just engulfed my body. That message, however small, carried such a huge weight… the last thing on earth I’d ever expected to hear.

It was incredibly symbolic in that it meant it really happened.

Everything was real.

Our pain was finally being acknowledged. I say ours because I this news wasn’t just about me… it was much much more than that. It’s much bigger than me. It’s a leap forward for all the women before me and potentially those after me.

So the time came to come to come face to face with my demons once again.

May 14th 9am.

He never showed.

The mental torment continues.

But I know now that I underestimated my emotional and mental strength. I’m ready to close this chapter.

I’m doing better, trying to be more selfish again and enjoy my solitude while it lasts.

Compromising your happiness for someone else is so unbecoming.

Trying to be more present.

Trying to dive into life again and not just dip one toe in when the temperature is just right.

So yes, the battle continues but I have the upper hand.

Here’s hoping the end is in sight.

(To be continued)…