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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)

TITLE: The Monster Behind Me
By Amy Michelle Wiley
05/09/12


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I wake with the grip of his hand on my arm. I feel blood vessels bursting, purple bruises spreading. I struggle to suck in a breath, but don't dare pull away.

“I have to get up.” My words are unconvincing. “I have things to do.”

He laughs in my face. “It’s 11:00 AM and you’re still in bed. You’re worthless.” He strides out, but leaves behind the pain.

It’s too much work to even think of swinging my legs over the side of the bed. Energy drains from me, ebbing from my darkened arm.

It is just a ploy for him to control me. I sit up. I can conquer this today. I will get up.

I stumble to the kitchen to start the coffee. The pile of dishes mocks me, growing taller even as I watch. I have the dishwasher only half unloaded when he appears again.

“You’re going too slow.” His fingers pinch, twisting against my spine.

“I’m almost done.” My words come out garbled. Somehow I finish the task.

His gaze moves pointedly to the floor. A crumb gleams white, mocking me like a flag of surrender.

But I don’t surrender. I take one more step. Fatigue licks at my legs like flames, spreading slowly toward my knees. I stumble but make it to the closet to tug out the vacuum. It’s heavy. The flames spread higher; my arms tremble.

Finally the vacuum pulls free and I shove it forward, but suddenly he’s there.

We collide. His mouth moves in a snarl and his hand flashes.

I yelp and pull away but it’s too late.

His fist finds my head.

I fall, floating on fire. I land on the side table. The sharp corner feels like a knife.

Somehow I clamber up. It’s not that bad. Probably barely left a mark. I flee, spending the rest of the day flat on my back in bed. Eventually the pain ebbs into a throbbing pulse.

I have no options. The doctors smile and talk in gentle tones. “It’s normal to get upset sometimes, or to lose your balance once in a while and fall. You look fine. Don’t blow things out of proportion.”

In other words, I’m faking it all.

All that day I simply lie flat and stare at the ceiling. It’s the only surface that doesn’t hurt me.

The next day he’s apologetic. Somehow he talks me into going out to a friend’s house.

Out. How long has it been since I’ve been out? A tingle of excitement spreads through me. I dress carefully. Long sleeves will cover all of me.

My friend envelopes me with a hug. I bite down the wince and hug back, because I cherish the gentle touch.

“How are you?”

“Great.” It’s not a lie. Today is a good day, because for just a few moments I can almost forget about him. I can be just me, enjoying life.

“You look really good.”

“Thanks.” My response is automatic but inside I wonder if maybe last time she saw me I looked horrible. Or maybe she’s heard my complaints of a hard life and is assuring me I’m perfectly fine.

I stop myself. Maybe she’s just happy to finally see me.

I stay longer than I should have. His smile stays firmly in place, but I feel him getting restless. He watches my every move, noting anything that can be punished later.

We finally say goodbye and my friend sets up another time to meet.

We’re barely in the car before he lashes out. “Going out again? That’s all you do—spend time away!”

The time of penitence is over. When we reach home his beating is severe. I will not be able to go out again soon even if he were to allow it.

The weariness almost overwhelms the pain. I sink into bed. Even laying still is too much work. My throbbing limbs feel weighted with a million pounds.

Yet there is no escape. I could go to a shelter or flee to another state. But he will be there, ever clinging to my side with his sharp fingers, sucking every ounce of energy from each pore.

I can see the mirror and a bit of my face. There are no bruises. My eyes flit over the rest of the room. He is nowhere to be seen, as invisible as the torture he inflicts. Because he is not a human tormentor. “He” is my disease.

He is fibromyalgia.



____________________
This allegory is not meant to belittle or discredit the very real and very horrible situation of those living with domestic violence. My goal in writing it is to attempt to give a small glimpse into the life of those of us with chronic, invisible disabilities in a way others may be able to understand. We who have lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, heart conditions, chronic Lyme or many other things try so very hard to live normal lives without focusing on the negatives of our diseases. And yet we’re stuck because if we don’t focus on ways to minimize his reign, if we don’t learn to bow to his demands and lessen the impact, then he will rip us to shreds, Every. Single. Day. It’s a balancing act to learn how to live fully and joyfully, yet ever aware of the consequences if we overstep the boundaries of the monster that lives within us.


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This article has been read 748 times
Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/10/12
This is difficult to read because you capture it so well. I have tears streaming down my face. There's no out in this type of a relationship. Chronic pain just draws me into myself not wanting others to be burdened by me, others who don't understand. But the truth is we aren't alone at all, are we?
Dannie Hawley 05/11/12
Your vivid descriptions have totally taken my breath away. There are no words to adequatley respond, except to say you've done an excellent job of writing.
Allison Egley 05/11/12
Wow. Awesome way to describe what goes on inside sometimes. Praying for you, friend. :)
CD Swanson 05/11/12
This touched me and brought it home to my heart. I have fibromyalgia and I guessed it was a "disorder" of some kind...perhaps only because I have this disorder. I was diagnosed with it 1994...and it is quite an uphill battle.

So...thanks for sharing. My prayers and thoughts are with you, and others who suffer from chronic disorders.

Brilliant depiction and a well-written entry with mesmerizing accuracy.



God bless you~
Laury Hubrich 05/12/12
Can you imagine the ones who suffer from fibromyalgia and an abusive marriage? Scary. You did an awesome job describing the pain. I could certainly relate.
Glynis Becker 05/15/12
So well-paced and I thought your descriptions and word choices are perfect. What a difficult situation you've put words to. Thank you so much for sharing so that those of us who do not live with chronic can understand others a little better. God bless you!
Cynthia Dawson05/15/12
I also live with chronic pain due to an accident and spinal cord injury. Your article was like reading my very own thoughts put on paper. It is quite hard if not impossible to explain let alone put on paper what chronic pain does to a person, however, you have done an amazing job!
Amanda Brogan05/16/12
You did a fantastic job of personifying this dreaded disease. I've never dealt with the nightmare of chronic pain, but through writing like this I am able to catch a glimpse through the eyes of those whom it does affect. It reminds me of the deep importance of sympathy and of being that compassionate friend for those who hurt.

Thank you for writing this. I only wish that I could reach through the computer and give you a gentle, enveloping hug. :)

Hope this places high.
Graham Insley 05/17/12
I need to be honest and admit a need to ponder on this a lot.

I had problems with the personification, it was almost too well done and I now struggle to separate some of it so that I can see the true effects of the real problem. This was not caused by your writing; it is my failure to understand.

I admit I need to think more about this issue.

My prayers are with you.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/17/12
Congratulations! HAPPY DANCE!!!!!
Geoffrey johnstone05/17/12
This was very well written. I had to read it twice to appreciate what you were saying.

My wife has MS and you captured life with a disability perfectly. We often use the same language to express our frustration with her condition. It is like living with a monster.

Keep writing. You have a gift which you have obviously worked hard at perfecting.
Amanda Brogan05/17/12
Congrats on your 4th place Editor's Choice! The Monster is defeated by this victory. :)
Carol Penhorwood 05/17/12
From one who has struggled with fibro and chronic fatigue for nearly 22 years, thank you. You have put into words what I have been unable to express. It is a lonely disease that few understand. We look perfectly normal and feel rotten every single day.

I believe the fatigue is worse than the pain because then we fight battles of feeling lazy and absolutely worthless. And guilt because we are holding our mates back from doing activities they would like to us to do with them. And then the added battle of depression because we know tomorrow it will be the same.

But praise God! This is only temporary for one day we wil be given new bodies in our heavenly home!
Jody Day 05/17/12
Very well done. The descriptions are vivid and compelling. This is an important treatment of a serious problem for many. Congratulations!
CD Swanson 05/17/12
Congratulations. God bless~
Sherry Castelluccio 05/17/12
Congrats, Amy! I agree with everyone else- you nailed it and I'm so happy for you. Awesome job.
Nancy Sullivan 05/17/12
You painted such a vivid picture of a world that's difficult to comprehend, Amy. Praying for an answer for this faceless enemy. God bless.
Kathleen Langridge05/17/12
With you every step of the way. You made the monster very real. Congratulations on your placement.