April 8, 2018:
The violence began without warning and at full force.
It was only our third or fourth night together and I hadn't yet begun to fathom the true depth of her addiction.
She was angry, although that's massively ironic understatement. She was infuriated, I think because I'd said "no" to something she wanted.
I was good at the pattern-recognition part of the IQ test. What I learned from experience with her is that the word "no" leads to punches.
Out of the blue she clocked me in the lip with a punch I didn't see coming. It cut me up, and as she continued throwing increasingly drunkenly uncoordinated right and left hooks I tried to keep the couch between us.
It's an immediately alienating experience. Where different parts of your brain work feverishly on contradictory lines of thought. She's a girl, we're taught to not hit girls, so use that couch to keep us separated while trying to talk her down. If she were a dude you could punch her lights and it would be over. But even if she were a dude you'd have to question who's in control here, 'cos the girl you know is certainly not present. So who is this person? And how often will we meet?
From then on I met her every night for years.
I learned to not speak the "no" word. Instead I'd talk around whatever preposterous nonsense she was demanding at the moment. I'd say, "That's interesting. Let's talk about it more in the morning." She'd say, "You're pathetic, man." Or she'd spit, or throw food. But there were fewer punches.
But that became it's own problem. It's when I was not expecting violence that she was able to hurt me. Without warning she heaved a heavy pewter statuette of the Virgin Mary which broke my shin. I still have Mary's head. Or she charged from the bedroom when I thought she was asleep and tackled me over the couch. Or she punched me in the kidney while smiling, which landed me in the ER. The punch not the smile. Or she somehow detached both retinas, an injury I was entirely unaware of for several years.
There wasn't any real pattern or reason or rhyme, it was simply the way the alcohol interacted with her brain chemistry at any particular moment. I suppose that's part of what made her so dangerous.
I nevertheless did continue to tiptoe carefully around the word "no".