By Tina Dunlap
This column is devoted to love letters, hate mail, and other correspondence from guys that I've saved over the years. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
No one ever called me Christina. But he insisted on calling me Christina and I let him. For two-and-a-half years I was someone else. For two-and-a-half years I lost completely myself in this man, in this most horrible kind of union.
Thinking about Sean P. makes me sad. Sad because I can't remember anything good about him, about us. And I know there was something good once, something sweet and pureI feel
it in this poem he wrote mebut it's all overshadowed by the memories of the hell he put me through. Then I get angry that he can still make me feel sad, that he can still make me feel guilty, that he can still make me feel anything.
The nightmare began six months into our relationship when he cheated on me. The nightmare wasn't that he was unfaithful. Sure, I was upset, but all he did with the other girl was kiss her and that wasn't so terrible in my book. No, the nightmare was that as a result of this infidelity he decided to stop having sex with me. He said that I was too good for him, that he didn't deserve me. This is where our relationship really started to get twisted.
I figured the self-imposed celibacy was temporary. It wasn't. It lasted for two years. I tried to break him down, but frankly, he was never that interested in sex anyway. I thought he was the shy, sensitive, romantic type; my friends thought he was gay. But I didn't give up. I begged him and berated him to no avail. So I started doing everything to please him. I stopped wearing makeup and cutting and coloring my hair. I quit smoking cigarettes and eating meat. I only bought clothes he liked, I only listened to music he liked, I only hung out with people he liked. When none of that worked, I started sleeping around.
I became hard and cold and manipulative. I rationalized that his celibacy was solely for the purpose of controlling me, since he was always so paranoid about me cheating on him and so jealous of my male friends. So that's what I didI cheated on him, blatantly, with my male friends. One time at a party I made out with this guy in a basement full of people while he was upstairs. He found out, of course, and he pulled me out into the front yard and dumped a pitcher of beer over my head.
We got off on humiliating each other. It became this sick game we played. It didn't wear me down, at firstit only tempted me to see how far I could go. One night I went too far. We went to a dance club with some of his friends, and I made the mistake of inviting a male friend of mine that he suspected I had slept with (I had). When he saw me dancing a little too close to this guy, he yanked me off the dance floor, shoved me up against a wall, and grabbed me by the throat. It took two bouncers to get him off of me. They threw him out on the street and I followed. I hit him across the face as hard as I could, and he screamed at me to hit him again. So I did, again and again and again.
That's when I really lost it. That's when I started to crumble on the inside. That night there were threats with razor blades and pills, and tears that drained me dry. He broke me down into this pathetic emotional wreck. I blamed myself for placing too much importance on sex. But now I realize it was a big part of who I was and how I expressed myself, and he denied me that. It was all so fucked up.
I suppose the sexual aspect of our relationship was so unnatural that the physical and verbal abuse didn't seem out of the ordinary. Never mind that our roommates and neighbors would call 911 on us. Never mind that our friends couldn't stand to be around us. Never mind that our families would cry and plead for us to make it stop.
And then finally, it had to stop. We were home from school for the summer. We were at his mom's house, fighting as usual. I don't remember what we were fighting about. I had locked myself in the bathroom. I don't think I was afraid of him; I think I just wanted to get away from him for a little while. He may have banged down the door or I may have opened it. All I remember is him bursting into the bathroom and pushing me, hard, right through the glass shower door. I can still hear it, feel it breaking all around me. I can still see his mother's face over me as she helped me stand up, the face that revealed this was why she had left his father. I can still smell the laundromat where I had to stop and call my friend because I couldn't drive myself home.
It should have ended there but it didn't. It dragged on for a few more months. Eventually I broke it off, and I never allowed myself to form a union like that again, where one person completely engulfs the other.
But sometimes you have to lose yourself in someone else to find yourself.
And the name Christina is starting to grow on me.
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Copyrightę2002 by (Chris)Tina Dunlap.
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