I’m tired of lying for him and protecting his identity. Mike is my ex-boyfriend. Mike is an abuser.
My therapist told me that she feels I’m ready to start talking about Mike now. So, to signify this milestone, I’m going to stop referring to him as a character. He’s a real person with reckless tendencies, ones that haunt me in my sleep. Every Monday night I dream of him. In the furthest recesses of my mind, I dream that he apologizes. Other times I feel his fingers close around my throat. But the scariest moments are in the dreams where the man that I fell in love with returns to ask for forgiveness and tell me that he loves me. Sometimes I let him wrap his arms around me and gently lift me off the ground. I let him hold me until the world slows down around us. I smile, knowing that all of the pain I went through was worth it, because he learned something and reunited we’ll be stronger.
Those are the dreams that wake me in cold sweats. Those are the ones that stay with me weeks. The rest are easy to dismantle. It’s only in the times where I fall in love with him again that I start to question if I’m actually healing. And, in the morning on my way to work, I look in every car that passes me, to see if he’s found where I live. I look out of my front door peep-hole before taking my dog outside, to be certain he’s not waiting outside for me. And I only sleep for three hours every night that week, because I’m afraid to go back to that place.
I’m rehashing this tonight, not because I’m angry or sad, but because it’s time to unveil reality. Why should I protect the identity of the man that hated me enough to make me hate myself?
Right now, 150 miles away, he’s probably at home, working on a new project for the company. His kids are probably closed into their rooms so he has silence. They probably had chicken nuggets for dinner and watched a movie while he crunched numbers. Right now, he’s probably trolling a website, looking for another victim even though a pretty blond is cleaning up after his family. She’s probably wondering what she said wrong or why he can’t step away from the computer to spend time with her.She might blow dry and straighten her hair in the morning before he gets out of bed, to be sure that his first glimpse of her reveals beauty. And she’s beautiful because she put in effort to please him.
“Good morning, baby,” will be uttered.
He’ll probably brush past her toward the bathroom, and wonder why she hadn’t already made breakfast.
Mike’s girlfriend will be upset with herself for not planning ahead enough. It would have been really easy to make him happy, if only she made eggs for breakfast, but instead she’ll deal with causing irritation. All over a fucking egg. Tomorrow she’ll wake up another hour earlier.
Mike hates women, but mostly, he hates himself. He isn’t good enough. He won’t ever gain the accolades that he wants (or thinks he deserves). And, really, it’s because society and family want him to settle down with a woman, all of which are too stupid to understand his passion. It’s the fault of every woman in his life that he doesn’t have a small amount of fame. They all held him back.
But what he doesn’t know is that I’ve given him notoriety as a man named Ike. Ike lives in a little bubble on the Internet. He is known for convincing a woman to quit her job, leave her friends and family, and abandon her own life to be a part of his, only to get thrown around like a rag doll. Ike is known for calling Fina a cunt. And he’s known because I’ve allowed him to live here, safely, without ever really explaining that I couldn’t come up with an awful enough name to describe him, so I chose Ike because of Tina and pop-culture. I chose Ike because I wouldn’t have to explain. I chose Ike because I didn’t think I was a strong enough writer to use foreshadowing effectively without the help of the name.
But now I’m choosing to uncover more of this story, because he doesn’t deserve to be hidden away anymore. And now I’m brave enough to stand here and say that he’s too big of a coward to do anything about it. Mike is his name. Mike is the monster.
I know he isn’t here. I know he will never find me. And, now, I know that if he ever located this (and figured out it is about him) he would be too worried about his reputation to step foot near me.
It was only behind closed doors that he had any power, so I’ve decided to put him on display.