( Advance Level )

There are some women, in this world, who feel they need a man in their life to be complete. There are women, in the world, who are blinded to the obvious. All in the name of love. This was Michelle.

Michelle’s friends, Bridgette and Mary, would ask her to go shopping or out to lunch, on occasions, but she was unable to go. She always had to ask her boyfriend, Zach, and he would tell her “No,” each time she asked.

Her friends never understood why she had to ask his permission anyways. After all, she was an adult and equally contributed to the household.

Her friends told her he was controlling her but she didn’t see it that way. She felt he was just overprotective. He would say to her, “Baby, I do not want anything ever to happen to you. I could not live with myself if anything happened to you.”

Zach and Michelle moved in together about eight months ago, after dating for 4 months. Since that time, Michelle’s friends noticed a huge change in her behavior. She used to be outgoing and happy but now she is quiet and subdued.

Since she was unable to go to see her friends, they would come to see her. They had restrictions on when they could come to visit. It had to be before Zach came home from work. She would make the excuse, to her friends, that he is usually very tired after work and likes to relax. Actually, he didn’t like people coming over, especially her friends.

Michelle is strong and smart until it comes to Zach. The evidence is right before her but she refuses to see it. He has a narcissistic personality. He needed to be in control.

Whenever they would argue he would twist things around making her feel like she did something wrong or that she didn’t have the ability to think. He would make her feel stupid.

In the end, he would make things up to her. Giving excuses why he yelled and belittled her. “It was for your own protection or I have your best interest in heart.

Michelle slowly distanced herself from her friends. She wanted to keep the peace and not argue with Zach anymore. Her friends, by this point, did not offer their advice.

They wanted to keep a line of communication with her so they quit talking about him altogether. She had made it clear to them she wasn’t interested in what they had to say. She loved Zach. This is all they needed to understand.

They decided they would be there, for her, if they were needed. This situation was something she had to discover for herself until then they would visit occasionally and enjoy their time together.

Months had passed and Michelle would see her friends once or twice a month. Sneaking around when Zach was at work.

On Friday, the friends met up at their favorite restaurant. Michelle sported a bruise on her cheek. She had tried to cover the bruise up with makeup but the attempt failed miserably.

Unable to contain her anger, her friend Bridgette spoke up, “I suppose you deserved that bruise and most likely the tongue lashing that followed?”

Michelle couldn’t contain her tears. She broke down in an uncontrollable sob. “I cannot do this anymore. I live in fear every day. In fear, I may say something wrong and make Zach mad.

“I cannot do anything without reporting to him what I am doing such as grocery shopping. Then he gives me a time limit. Some days he allows me to go alone, otherwise, he drives me and sits in the car waiting for me.

I should have listened to both of you. How could I have been so blind? Love doesn’t hurt. Love doesn’t leave marks on the one you love.” She put her head in her hands and continued to cry.

Bridgette was the outspoken one of the trio. She immediately took charge and said, “I will take you to your apartment and I want you to grab what belongings you can grab in fifteen minutes. Michelle, you will be moving in with me.“.

Michelle’s spirit was broken. She agreed with Bridgette’s idea without hesitation. There wasn’t a lot of time so the girls just ordered drinks.

They needed to get Michelle to her apartment so they could get in and get out before Zach arrived home. Neither wanted a confrontation with him. The friends witnessed his rage before.

Everything went off without a hitch. They were able to get a lot of Michelle’s clothes and personal belongings well before Zach was due to arrive home.

For Michelle, the day was a complete blur. She was on autopilot and merely existing. For the past year, her life revolved around Zach and starting a life together as a couple. Now, all of this is gone. Gone with one argument that resulted in a physical altercation.

Bridgette insisted Michelle get some sleep. She could tell her friend was exhausted. “For now just get some rest. There is plenty of time to settle in here. You are safe and you can organize your things later.

Michelle lay on the bed and started drifting off to sleep, thinking to herself, “How could I have let this happen? I lost my identity, who I was, for love.”

Michelle slept through the night. She woke to the smell of coffee brewing. She went to the washroom and washed her face. She looked up into the mirror at herself. “Okay you, today is a new day. It is a new beginning.”

She headed to the kitchen to see Bridgette smiling. She had prepared breakfast. To her surprise, she was starving. The two sat having a quiet morning meal together.

Bridgette wanted to give Michelle time to adjust and talk about things on her own terms. She didn’t want to push her. She knew, in her own time, she would.

Breakfast finished and Bridgette cleaned the table off. Michelle picked up the cell phone she left on the counter the night before. She looked at her messages.

Zach had left dozens of text messages. As she read through them her hands shook. The messages started off with anger and ended in a more pleading way.

Where are you?”…

Why aren’t you home where you belong?” ….

You know you are to be here when I get home“….

Who are you with?”…

Oh baby, I am starting to get worried, are you ok?”….

“Now you are worrying me. Do you like worrying me?”

Please come home to me.

“I love you.”….

Michelle held the cell phone in her hand. Scrolling through the messages over and over again. She looked up to see Bridgette looking at her with concern on her face.

Michelle looked back at her phone and typed a simple reply to Zach. “Love doesn’t hurt” and hit the send button. She placed her phone face down on the counter and looked at Bridgette.

For the last year, I worked on my relationship with Zach and lost myself and almost lost my friendship with you and Mary. Thank you for not giving up on me. It will take me a bit to get strong again but I will. Today is a new day. Today is a new beginning.

Written by: Angel

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blinded – verb: unable to see

contributed – verb: help or provide something

subdued – adjective: quiet or depressed

restrictions – noun: limiting

narcissistic – adjective: extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes a person ignore the needs of those around them, disregards other’s feelings

twist things around – idiom: alter, distort, or misrepresent

belittled – verb: make someone feel unimportant

keep the peace verbal phrase: avoiding arguments

advice – noun: guidance * not to be confused with advise

line of communication – idiom: communications between people or groups

sported – verb: wear or display

deserved – adjective: earned because of something done or qualities

tongue lashing – noun: scolding

outspoken – adjective: direct with one’s opinions

hesitation – noun: pausing

confrontation – noun: argumentative meeting

blur – verb: unclear

autopilot – noun: doing things or tasks without thinking

altercation – noun: argument or disagreement

identity – noun: being who or what a person or thing is

scrolling – verb: the action of moving displayed text or graphics up, down, or across

concern – verb: worry

Question ( s ):

Would you of left, this situation, if you were Michelle?

Do you feel Zach was controlling?

Have you known anyone in this situation?

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