Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Commitment (01/05/12)
TITLE: You don't know him like I do
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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Wait, wait, wait. Charlie is nothing like my dad, and you don’t know him like I do. You can’t judge him because you’re not the one in a relationship with him. You’re not the one he’s bared his soul too. You have never seen the artistic, sensitive part of him.
You can’t see past the tattoos, past the Mohawk, past the ever tight lips.
Yes, he does seem terrifying, but what if I told you all that is an act? What if I told you that beneath that tough eighteen year old matured male exterior is a soft heart? What if I told you that the violence and turbulence of his parents’ marriage have left him scarred? And what if I told you that he understands me, knows what makes me tick?
Yes, he has a predisposition to anger, to rage. But tell me which kid from a broken home doesn’t? And yes, when he’s angry, he has a tendency to hit things, to hit me. But that’s just the way of hormone-charged boys.
And while we are at it, I should take care to tell you that the few times he’s ever hit me, I was in the wrong. Yes, a lot of guys don’t hit their girlfriends when they do wrong, but it’s just that Charlie is a sensitive, emotional person. He feels slights more than the average person does.
The very first time he hit me, he’d caught me scrolling through his text messages. How on earth could I have suspected him of other affairs in a relationship that is supposed to be built exclusively on love?
The second time was also my fault. He’d been trying to call me all day and I wasn’t picking up. Is it not a sign of love to want to know where your beloved is at always?
And have I told you Charlie is nothing like my dad? When he hits me, it is because he has to. And even then, he is always sorry afterwards. My conclusion is, he does not like to hit me but he just can’t help himself when I am naughty.
Let me tell you one other reason I know he loves me. Charlie cannot live without me. How about that? Do you know how many times he has told me he would kill himself if I ever leave him? And there was that time, that one time, that he said he’d make it a murder-suicide. Me first, then him. That way, we’d be in heaven together.
Are you asking if I was scared when he said that? Of course I was. That is, initially. Then I thought about the hidden meaning of that threat, the real meaning. Charlie cannot live without me. This makes me feel good inside, makes me feel worthwhile, makes me feel that there’s something I can actually do right in this life.
But see, there’s something I don’t really feel good about, something I haven’t quite forgiven Charlie for.
That thing is my stolen innocence.
See, we’d agreed very early in or relationship that we were going to stay pure until our wedding night. Yes, we kissed. Yes, we smooched. Yes, we tempted fate. But we were not ready to take it further. At least I wasn’t.
But there was a night that Charlie forced me. Today, he says he didn’t but in my heart of hearts, I know I was forced. When his hands snaked into my panties, I pushed, I struggled, I told him to stop. But he didn’t. He didn’t.
There was that horrible pain, there was that desire to scratch out his eyes, there was that urge to curl up and die.
A part of me hates Charlie for what he did, but there’s another part that has reasoned it out. We will be married, won’t we? So, he’s only taking now what he would have taken later. Bad but not reprehensible.
What I’m asking you to do is not so terrible, not so hard. Try to see Charlie the way that I do. Why don’t you try and see beyond his tough pose to the little, hurting boy inside of him?
He loves me and that’s all that matters. Isn’t it?
***Each year approximately one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Approximately one in five high school girls has been physically, emotionally or sexually abused by a dating partner.
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