Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence & Intimate Partner Violence; Verbal Abuse

I have had this title in my draft folder for years. Shortly after I watched the popularized movie named Concussion, I learned that many women suffer Traumatic Brain Injury

because of intimate partner violence. The articles are plentiful. The short term effects, often overlooked — and the long term effects, ignored and left untreated.

In my experience, this was true. Besides likely suffering at least one concussion I can remember, I was still playing college basketball and ignoring several physical signs my brain wasn’t working right. Within weeks, I went from being a 4.0 student to failing ALL of my classes. I love to write in print and often get complimented on my neat & precise penmanship. But during that era of abuse, my handwriting became childlike and crude— I had an obvious & significant regression. It was a bizarre symptom I never correlated. Until recently.

(Un)incredible Hulk was no super hero. We were dating a grand total of eight weeks when he first kicked me. Hard. His foot found my buttocks with force as I climbed a short flight of stairs. I cannot begin to recall what we had fought about or what I did to anger him, but I certainly felt his ire.

Hours later, the tears and faux apologies and the begging for proof that I forgave him ensued— the cycle had begun and I was too busy reminding him how great he was to notice. He needed me to remind him that he was ‘not a bad person’ and I obliged — doing and saying things far beneath my dignity. Repeatedly.

It wasn’t just the physical altercations. It never was. It was the lies, the verbal abuse, and then the knock-down drag-out fights where I was the only one who got knocked down or drug around.

The cyclical nature of abuse fascinates me. And, it troubles me. It‘s like a Nascar racetrack with no off ramp. Circling around and around and around; over and over again. Anger at full throttle. Cycling faster and faster. No off ramp. Over and over again.

With this backdrop, my latest poem chose to read as a country music song. (I didn’t choose the poetry life, the poetry life chose me!) It got penned on a 12 hour trip across the Midwest as I tried to peer into the small towns of America. Truly, it’s one of my favorites. After 30 years, my brain decided to peer into my soul, take the crude realities of my experience and say precisely what I wanted to say back then. And now. My penmanship couldn't be any clearer. My voice crooning with all the raw clarity of your favorite contralto country music star, this poem reflects something deep in my soul. It's tune has an oft repeated refrain to capture the incessant patterns that repeat themselves over and over.

It’s wearisome to keep going back for more of what harms us. If you are weary, there is an off ramp. The country music sad song ballad can change. Your brain will heal. And so will your heart. Leave what harms you behind. You don’t have to be concussed any more.


I've been conned

'nd I’ve been cussed

And every once in awhile concussed

You beat me then

And you beat me now

And I keep comin’ back for more

Cause I’ve been conned

‘nd I’ve been cussed

And every once in awhile concussed

Lies and cries

They metastasize

And I keep comin’ back for more