(*warning - triggering subject matter) I have been beaten up.Beat beyond recognition.I wander the streets among the masses.No one gives me a second look.No one offers me a hand.What is wrong with this city? With this world that a beaten person goes unnoticed?Can they not see the blood?The bruises?Old cuts now partially scabbed over?Do they not notice the smiling monster strutting beside me gripping my hand tightly?I want to ask for help but the genuine smiles and hopeful glances directed only at the monster keep me silent.
The monster returns the smiles with an appreciative gleam in his eyes.He is fond of admiration.He is even fonder of his handiwork.My bruised, scarred, battered, and battle-weary body is his masterpiece.I don't look up. I won't meet the eyes of these passing admirers with my own swollen eyes.I am ashamed. Ashamed that I have brought this on myself.Ashamed that I have stayed with this monster.Allowed the monster to break me down into pieces that are unrecognizable.
We stroll on as the monster releases my hand and casually places his arm over my shoulder to draw me in closer.I am his and he is mine.He is at his highest when I am at my lowest.How can this monster causing me such pain also bring me so much happiness when he chooses to shine his light on me?
We pass a store-front, the sun briefly blinding me as it reflects off the windows.I look over to watch a handsome couple walking.The man is smiling.He seems happy as if he has the world at his feet.The lady is looking back at me.Her eyes are swollen and she looks tired, but she is still beautiful.Her face is lined with fine wrinkles, but her skin is clear and her clothes are immaculate.I stare at the reflection, shocked by her outward wholeness as my haunted reflection stares back at me.
My husband squeezes me a little closer. Murmurs, "I love you."I pry my eyes away from my image and look him in the eyes and the sunlight that is his face and I smile.
By Lisa H. Owens Inspired by the reality of narcissistic abuse. Published on Spillwords 6/1/2021 World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day—June 1, 2019 This micro-essay was chosen as a finalist for the WOW (Women On Writing) Q4-2019 Nonfiction Essay Contest.