the night things changed

…so i was pissed, and he went from apologetic to sad to pleading to furious. i was sitting on the couch when he asked if i REALLY wanted him gone.
if i leave i’m not coming back, he said.
“i know… and you should still go.”

i don’t remember the moments right before it happened, but suddenly his fingers were wrapped around my throat. i was stunned, and didn’t try to fight him off or protest. i just stared in his eyes and saw a blankness, a rage, something uncontrollable in him that i’d never seen before. when i didn’t gasp for air, he twisted his mouth and tightened his grip until i did. he made me fight to breathe for about ten seconds before he let go.

after that point i don’t remember too many specifics. my therapist says i went into survival mode.

i knew i needed to get him out of my apartment ASAP and i needed to make sure he left his key to my place when he did. i do remember him following me around the apartment, screaming at me to forgive him. he choked me again three or four more times that night, each time with less intensity than the one before it.

when he realized i wasn’t going to change my mind about making him leave, he threw one of my dining chairs and a cup full of water toward me, then slammed a pumpkin scented candle at my feet on his way out. i grabbed my keys and jacket (because he still had my spare key) and followed him, making sure i kept the door ajar in case he attacked me and i needed to run. i told him that he could either give me my key right there in the hallway or we could do this whole show in front of the doorman. he pressed the button to call the elevator, but when it arrived i got onto the car with him.

i guess we gon have to do this in front of the doorman, i said, because you’re not leaving here with my key.

he pushed me, gently at first, and then shoved me out of the elevator when i resisted. i lunged to get back on it and started to scream, knowing that he HATES to be embarrassed and would flip if someone opened their door to check on the noise. cursing and furious, he tore the key off his chain and threw it in the hallway.

i picked up the key as the elevator doors closed and waited to hear him go downstairs before i returned to my apartment. i locked the door, carefully tiptoeing around the floor now shining with fragments of glass. i put the spare key in an old purse and hid it from myself.

before i went to bed that night i picked up the cup he’d thrown and laid a towel over the spilled water. i righted the dining chair, rinsed my face of tears, and checked my neck for bruises. i swept most of the broken candle and glass into the dustpan and took a picture of it, to remind myself why he can’t come back.

i googled “what to do after your boyfriend chokes you” and learned i’d been strangled. i felt his grip around my throat for all of the next day.

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