Content warning for descriptions of domestic abuse
I don't even have the words for this.
I normally have words for every pain.
For every sadness.
For every season.
But for this,
This I've kept buried.
Not just six feet under,
but miles under.
So far gone that the reactions I have,
no longer have memories attached to them.
But I have to start somewhere so,
I'll tell you what I remember,
because still, there are things inside of me
I've buried so far,
I've forgotten them completely.
I remember holding my infant daughter in my arms and trying to leave the first time.
I remember being shocked.
Huddling my baby to me,
Shielding her body with mine.
I remember being on the ground the second time.
Or was it the third, fourth?
I remember yelling for help once.
No one came.
And you laughed.
Told me how dramatic I was.
You laughed at my black eye too.
I remember not knowing if you'd let me breathe again.
I remember dreading coming home.
Dreading every phone call.
Dreading my bedroom.
Endless fucking dread.
I remember watching the gas gauge hoping I didn't use too much.
I remember hiding at my mom's house for hours.
Too afraid to go home.
What I remember best however,
As spectacular as it was terrifying
I'd never been alone.
I was pregnant at sixteen.
Freedom was overwhelming.
I didn't sleep in a bed for years.
It was too big.
I felt like I was drowning in it.
Some days I still do.
I remember living out of a hamper.
Because I couldn't take much when I left.
I remember watching my daughter start to hate me.
Because I didn't want to tell her what you'd done.
I remember having a Child Protective Service agent force me sit on a toilet
and urinate in a cup.
While she watched.
To prove I was innocent.
Because I didn't know any better.
I remember that when you told me you were sorry
it was also to remind me
if I'd only been more loving and affectionate
It would have been different.
It's been eight years.
Eight years of therapy.
Eight years of intense work on my mind and my heart
And I'm telling you now,
I don't quite remember it like that.
Tiffani Ballingham is 31 years old and the mother of two amazing children. She started writing poetry as an outlet for her depression and anxiety. It was the only thing that kept her going for a long time until she could grow into herself and understand completely who she is as a woman. Her hope is that her story will hopefully empower others, even just to make them feel heard and understood. There was a time when that was all she wanted in the world.