It was just a cup of coffee. And maybe sometimes a bagel. Or a muffin. But definitely the coffee. And I didn't realize how much I enjoyed going to get it every morning until the day I was no longer allowed to.
Out of desperation, loneliness and the unwavering belief that I deserved a fairytale ending, I let him move in. I knew it was not the right thing to do, and I knew that he was pushing me faster than I wanted to go.
But he said he loved me, and he treated me nice. And he made me feel like I was worth it again.
And so, one Saturday morning I picked him up on the curb outside of the room he no longer rented, and invited him into my life on a more permanent basis.
At first, everything was fine. Him being there was a rare treat-like a vacation or a birthday surprise. He made me breakfast before work, called me to say hello during the day and when I got home, dinner would be on the table.
And then he started looking for a job. It was decided that he would drive me to work each day until he saved enough money to buy his own car. When I asked him to stop at the coffee shop, he scoffed and kept on driving.
"You don't need that-you're heavy enough."
That was the first slap I ever felt from him. Sadly, it was not the last.
Over the next year I'd be mentally abused, blackmailed, threatened and yes, even beat up. I was not allow to see friends, talk to family or buy myself anything new.
Even though it was my money. My house. My pride.
He wanted everything-and he was determined to make me give it to him.
And though I knew that it was happening, I had no way of stopping it.
My Independence was being taken away from me. My home, my freedom, my opinions-my laughter. And yet, every law protected him.
Unless I was willing to plow through him while he blocked the doorways, or was brave enough to take the phone that he ripped out of the wall away from him, I could not call the police. And when I later did, they told me I could evict him-a process that took over 30 days.
From the very moment his fist first touched me jaw (while driving me to work one day, simply because I changed the radio station) I vowed to get away from him.
I didn't know how, I didn't know when. But I knew that somehow, I would.
And the only reason I am here today, to tell this story, is because I was strong enough to do it.