Every morning for the past 39 years, while going through the mindless routine of putting on my morning makeup, I’m jolted by a memory from my past.
Just when I’m gliding the smooth lip liner over the contour of my lips, I see it. The memory jars me. I scowl because I think to myself, “After nearly 40 years, why do you still have this reaction? Why are you haunted by this memory?”
There’s a distinct tear, a split, an unmistakable scar on the surface of my lip. It represents a very dark day in my life when my incisor tooth sliced through my face and bled non-stop down my brand new suede jacket.
I remember I paid a handsome $79 for that jacket in 1978.
It was a foolish, indulgent purchase that I really couldn’t afford. Now ruined, I’d have to throw it away; get rid of it.
Destroy the evidence.
I had managed to get away from my abusive boyfriend. Had been accepted to the state university. I was starting a new life. Even met a new guy. My life was turning around.
Until that night.
I don’t recall specifically the circumstances of how or why my abuser showed up that evening at my campus dorm. I just remember the fateful blow. That white light that explodes behind your eyes when you’re hit with the physics of brute force, and the delayed pain. The blood begins before the pain. And thinking, “God damnit, I just bought this jacket!”
Then, the tears. And then, the shame.
In a single swift blow, a violent man forever corrupted such a mundane experience hundreds of millions of women go through every day. For the rest of my life, I’m trapped in that memory loop. And, as you can see, that scar is just one of many.
That one is visible.