Fear of dying has a way of undoing a body. Sitting about 100 feet into the field, in the blackness of night, following the rough ride through the ditch, I fell apart. The stress of the preceding moments overtook me, and sobbed. It had all happened so fast, my mind could not keep up.
A few more seconds passed before the sheriff and several cruisers gathered around us. Lights flashed everywhere. We were surrounded. The officer had obviously called for back up. Several ordered my then-boyfriend to move away from the car, treating him like a criminal, and took him to a cruiser, the other officer came to me.
“M’am, are you alright?” I nodded, unable to speak. “I’m the sheriff. Is it okay if I ask you some questions?” Again I nodded.
“Have you been abducted?” I shook my head no. “Has this man forced you in any way, or are you with him of your own will?” I shook my head no to the first question, nodded to the second. “Where are you from?”
“Ontario, Canada,” I said, finally regaining my composure.
“And you’re sure you are with him willingly?” He didn’t look convinced by my previous answer. Again I said ‘yes’. “What relationship is this man to you?”
I explained that we had been dating for a few years and I was spending some time with him, his family and my friends.
“Why would you spend time with a man who puts your life in this kind of danger? What do you want with him?” he asked.
I tried to explain that he wasn’t really like that. That he had panicked. He was a good guy and had treated me well in our time together. I told him about the suspension, that he was supposed to have had his license returned and they didn’t arrive on time. I also explained that we had been talking about some heavy stuff just before that, and were both quite more vulnerable because of it. He wanted to know what kind of stuff we had talked about. “Family abuse,” I said. He asked a few more questions about that, and I answered honestly.
Having listened compassionately to what I had to say, the sergeant cautioned me again to think twice about being in a relationship with someone like him. “He will probably lose his license for a year now. That’s the consequence for this.”
“Couldn’t you talk to him?” I asked. “He’s not a bad guy. He’s just afraid of police officers–always has been. He can’t lose his license for a year.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he said, and said he’d talk to him. And he had one final question. “Are you okay to see him now?” I told him I was. “Are you sure he is no danger to you?” I assured him that he would not hurt me, and I would be fine.
The sergeant escorted me across the field. “Young man,” he said sternly, before releasing me, “do you realize you could have killed yourself and your girlfriend tonight?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “About a year ago there was a hydro pole at the exact location where you went into the field. Some families in the community asked that the pole be removed, because of its position on the curve. They were concerned that if anyone every lost control here, or missed the curve, they would hit that pole and be killed. You two are lucky to be alive. Those people saved your lives.”
A few more words of advice, warning and caution, and we were gone. They gave permission to drive the car home and then to give up driving until someone called from the police department.
At my friend’s house, where I was to spend the night, we sat a while talking. He said he was deeply sorry and asked me to make a vow never to tell anyone the story. It was too humiliating. I promised to guard this secret. And I did, for years.
Our week together was worse than our time at Christmas. This event, it seemed, had knocked the remaining life out of him, out of our relationship. Even though the sergeant had called to say they would drop all charges, giving him a momentary boost, our relationship stayed disconnected.
By mid-week I was frustrated with surface pretences. Having waited several months for him to recover from the failed engagement dinner, I decided it was time to be real. Time to move on.
On one of his most melancholy nights, toward the end of the week, I broke the silence. I told him I knew that his intentions were to propose, that the day had not gone as planned, that it was the reason the restaurant disappointed him so much and why he had shut down. It was what it was, could we move on?
He admitted it, and wasn’t totally surprised that I knew, though he hoped I had somehow missed it. Rather than giving our relationship a new start, after our talk he felt like even more of a failure. He couldn’t even surprise his girlfriend.
On the weekend he took me back to Ontario, but during the remaining time together, he avoided anything of depth. On Sunday night we spent time with my new ‘sister’, Cindy, and another friend. With them we had a blast. Life was ‘normal’, but once alone, the distance and disconnectedness returned.
Before I had left for the week, Howard, Alice and all the children had gathered around me to pray. I had shared with them that I felt we were disconnected and our relationship could not recover. I wanted to give it one more chance, the best that I could give and if by the end of the week we had not talked thing through and made progress, I would end the relationship.
The time had come for the parting of the ways, and I would choose the broken road. The good-bye. I had a feeling he would agree with me. There was no life left for us. A lot of emotional connections had been established, but with not being able to communicate, it was time for both of us to be released. I cringed at needing to say it to him. I had invested my heart, but I knew I could not go through life with unresolved issues, and if this was an indicator, if several months was not enough time to get through some of the things we had experienced, our marriage would suffer in the long run.
That was some of what I explained to him. He was upset, but said he understood. He realized he was not ready for commitment, that he wanted to have some fun with the guys, do some things he had not been able to do. He would leave the church, find another place and live some of the things he always wished to do.
He promised to return, to find me again. “I’ll be a real man, when I come back,” he said.
I took the promise at face value, and said I would be willing to reconsider, when he’s ready. In the meantime I had some healing of my own to do. I wanted to work through the victimization.
With that we parted ways, blessing each other, dreaming of ‘Another Time, and Another Place’, when we would reconnect. He gave me that Twila Paris album and a note before he left, to serve as a reminder of his promise.
As time passed, however, I knew it would not happen. That he would not return, and I would not reconsider. We never spoke of it, but I think we both knew.
I felt stripped. Empty. Discovering the abuse had opened doors to pain so deep I thought I would suffocate. Breaking up took from me a deep friendship, not only with my ex-boyfriend, but with his mom and many other friends. And I was left to guard the secret that had ultimately cost us the relationship.
All I had left was God, Howard and Alice, and their family. I felt as if my whole world had fallen apart….
But we find Jesus in the shadows of life experience. We “fall apart to come alive… a broken heart… can shatter all the lies.. a brand new start and a good bye… We fall apart just to come alive….” (BeBe Norman)
Little did I know… This was just the first step into the amazing life God had planned for me. The future that I needed… the purpose in my pain… in the abuse… in the trauma.
It all hinged on that one moment in time, a moment that hurt so deeply, I thought I would die. It would take time, but God had a good plan, and the pain would be worth it.
© Trudy Metzger
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