“Does anyone have a cigarette?” I asked, standing outside an Irish Pub in my California hometown. I was on summer break from my college studies in New York at Sarah Lawrence. Full of life, ideas and the sure knowledge that I was indestructible.
I wasn’t proud of my recently acquired smoking habit. But in the theatre-land of New York, you couldn’t beat ‘em so you might as well join ‘em. It felt unnatural to drink without a cigarette now, on the rare occasion that I drank at all.
“I don’t have an extra, but you can share this one with me.” The man who spoke was handsome with dark hair and eyes to match. I felt a stirring in my body and reached to accept the cigarette, inhaling deeply.
Such an innocuous beginning. I wasn’t meant to be there that night. I didn’t like bars. Or drinking for that matter. I was there at the insistence of a friend. He was there to honor the death of a friend. It was only meant to be a fling before I jetted back to my hard-earned life in New York.
I often wonder who I would have become had things been different. Had my friend and I gone out the night before as planned. Had I not given in to my craving for a cigarette. Had I worked harder to find the extra funds to cover my increased tuition that Fall.
I wonder what different roads were open to me. How a one-night-stand turned into an almost 10 year nightmare.
This is how. There is an old wisdom that says “All virtue accumulates drop by drop.”
In other words, each great deed done starts with one small step. Each novel written begins with one word. But the reverse of this is also true.
Every decent into hell begins with one step. One avoidance. One red flag overlooked. They add up, these small, deliberate blindnessess.
The passion and romance and promises never kept become phantom foundations that we rest the weight of our dreams on.
This isn’t just a story of domestic violence. This is the story of every life lived. The cautionary tale told to adult children who have yet to wake up to their own power in life.
I wrote about Why We Stay in my last post. You’ve had a glimpse of The Beginning in this post. The story will unfold as you peek into the life of a strong woman who forgot herself for a time.
When we stay true to the memory of who we are, we are never a victim. It is only when we live in amnesia, blind to the truth before us, that we fall prey to the patterns that destroy us.
But there is always time to wake up, to remember. My story proves this. I regained my memory, and with it, my Self.
This is the second part of a 10-part series on domestic violence and relationships based on my life. Please come back next Monday for the next post, Til Death Do Us Part, or follow my blog or sign up to receive email updates. You can also like my Facebook Page for updates on my blog, my books and more. To get caught up, start with Part 1: Why We Stay.