September seemed like the perfect month for white. It was a brand new year and a brand new beginning, and my dress sparkled, like my dreams, white and full and pure.
Pure I sure as hell was not, but no one needed to know that. So I wore a white dress, and I wore a white veil, and all people saw was a pure, covered bride, with a too-high neckline that I had dreamed of cutting low, and sleeves till my wrists that hid my slender arms, and I thought there was no purer, no happier, human being on the face of this earth.
I felt beautiful that day, the day I became his. I floated through our wedding like Cinderella herself, happy and glowing and smiling till my cheeks hurt. I smiled for the cameras, and I smiled for my guests. I smiled all the way through the rest of September, as the last of the thick summer air faded somewhere far, far away.
Just as soon as it came, September was gone. (Time flies when you’re getting married.) October came suddenly, quickly, with a slight chill and delicious night air. October of orange, October of pumpkins. October of leather jackets and high-heeled boots and hot lattes with whipped cream.
October, when we were married all of two weeks, and I ran out of our dining room past our friends, past the long, cherry-wood table laden with pomegranates and starfruit, past him, and cried my mascara-stained eyes out into my pillow.
October, when we were married a year and two weeks, and he locked me out of our apartment.
October, four years later, when he hit me for the first and last time, my back bent, head crouched, whacking across my skin with the first object he could grab, again, and again, and again. Our 2-year-old daughter in my arms as he did.
October, seven years in, when I still didn’t run.
I wanted to go back to September, to the day I became his. I wanted those rainy mornings I’d wake up late and find an umbrella on the table next to breakfast in a paper bag and an iced coffee in the fridge. I wanted freezing winter nights together wrapped in sweaters and each other and a thick, green blanket on the couch, eating cheap Chinese food and watching Seinfeld. I wanted the love notes he used to leave me around the house on sticky pink heart-shaped post-its, and yellow roses he’d get me just because, and promises he’d make and break and make and break, and, of course, I wanted Wednesday nights.
I don’t enjoy writing about him, and I don’t enjoy re-living that period of my life. The person I married in September and who hit me in October no longer exists in my mind. It’s been six years, and I’ve moved on.
But it’s October. It’s the month he left, the month I was given a new lease on life. It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And I need to force myself to sit down and remember what I’d already forgotten, to give life to the person who has already, in my mind, ceased to exist long ago.
Because there are women out there who don’t know about October. They don’t know that being re-born can feel like dying. That white dresses can be just fabric, and not the tapestry of their identity. And that love isn’t love if it makes you feel like shit. They don’t know that there are others, so many others, and that people want to learn and listen, if only they learned how to speak.
They don’t know that all great things begin with the death of an old dream.