Let me tell you about Alexa. A strong, brave woman who only discovered the depths of her strength when she was fighting for her life. Although Alexa is not real, her story is.
She had loved him, truly and without limitations. Even now, even after everything; Rory would always be the love of her life, she knew that without doubt.
It had started out so pure and innocent; sharing their highs and lows together. Alexa and Rory, they were young and optimistic. Their lives opened out before them like a blank canvas, waiting for them to decide which colours and shades to fill in each shape with.
They were born hundreds of miles apart. He was Irish and found his way to London in search of work and a better life. What he found was that and more. Alexa. Love. Hope.
Those first few years were the happiest. They weren’t perfect but they were so happy. Money wasn’t in abundance and it seemed to be a scrape every month but they were both content with the simple necessities and they made do. At one time they were living in a bedsit above a curry house and yet that didn’t matter to them. They were together and that meant it was home.
They got married. Their wedding was simple yet elegant. The invitations were homemade, as were many aspects of the wedding. On a beautifully hot day in August they became eternally tied to each other.
There were a few years of their attention being solely for one another before the baby came. A daughter – Rosie. He loved being a father, Alexa could tell and she loved him more for that. Rory happily shared the duties and he showed off his girl proudly.
When things got really hard, the warnings signs were brushed away by Alexa. They had never had things easy and it had never troubled them before. They were in it together, that’s what mattered. It started to change. Slowly and discreetly; then all at once it all changed. Rory got injured when he was working his latest job in a factory. Nothing life threatening but it threatened their livelihood. His finger was partially severed and he had to take time off work.
That was when the drinking started getting worse. He had always been a drinker. If Alexa ever suggested that he should stop drinking, or drink less, he would laugh at her.
“You want me to change, love? You knew this about me when you married me. I don’t ask you to change, do I?” He would mock her as he opened another can. Always blaming his Irish heritage for his need for alcohol. Alexa hated that. Passing all blame and shrugging off any responsibility.
Alexa was working as a nurse, trying to maintain their household and pay for their daughter to go to nursery. She was hurting inside, the man she loved gradually becoming unrecognisable to her, but she had to push herself harder than ever. She had to suppress the heartbreak and anguish she was feeling to provide for their daughter and give her the love she needed.
Rory found another job and lost it again. Another job came and went. He didn’t bother giving Alexa an explanation anymore.
Soon Rory was drinking excessively everyday. Trying to cope with his inability to provide for them or for his lack of purpose, Alexa didn’t know.
She began pleading and begging for him to stop or at least reduce his drinking which would only irritate and infuriate him. He wholeheartedly denied any problem. Any signs of disagreement or protest from Alexa were soon brushed away harshly with a slap. The red mark would fade away but it left a permanent mark on her heart.
The first time he punched her, she was knocked to the floor and she stayed there for what felt like hours. Looking back to that moment, Alexa could still feel the impact of his fist on her jaw. She remained on the floor not from the pain but from the shock. Even though he slapped her and shouted at her, mocked her and swore at her; she never thought he would hit her like that. She pushed and pushed because she had no fear of him, only a desperate need for him to go back to being her Rory.
She had done her best to cover it up with make-up, which only lead him to tell her she looked like a clown. He apologised for punching her, of course, but assured her that he wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t kept nagging him. She believed every word of it.
After that incident, the impact of his fists became a regular occurrence. Rosie was a toddler by now; still oblivious, Alexa hoped but could never be sure. He tried his hardest not to hit her in front of Rosie, that would be the next step of deterioration.
Alexa found herself wondering how long she could let this go on for. She was baffled at the transformation in his character and his behaviour. Where was the man who would pick flowers on his way home from work for her simply because he wanted to make her smile. Where was the man who rub her feet when she pregnant and wouldn’t hesitate to rush out and buy her whatever snack she craved at that time. He had become a slave to alcohol.
Her presence seemed to irritate him. Any movement could set him off. He was still at the pub one evening and she found herself confused as to why she had not left him yet. He had clearly demonstrated that it was only a matter of time before he took it further, before the damage got more serious. He loved Rosie but how could she guarantee that Rory would never hurt her, after all he loved Alexa too.
She had made up her mind, as quickly as the idea had come into her head. She began packing a few bags with essentials for her and Rosie. They would go to her mum’s, Alexa decided, and take it from there. He would find them but they would be safe at mum’s; he wouldn’t hurt them there.
Alexa had been so focused and uplifted by her new found hope, deciding which clothes to take and which to leave, that she didn’t hear the front door close. She didn’t hear him walking up the stairs while she was talking to Rosie who was sitting on the bed. Even in his drunken state, it only took him a split second to realise what was taking place. His fury and anger was unleashed.
“You think you can leave me? We made vows for better or worse!” He roared in her ear as he gripped her hair in his fist. He threw her aside and emptied the content of the bags across the room.
“Rosie, go to your room!” Alexa cried urgently. Rosie, more aware and insightful of her father’s ways than Alexa realised, obediently ran to her room.
Alexa was furious at herself. How foolish of me. So impulsive. I should have waited and planned it. Now he’s going to kill me.
The punches came hard and fast after that. Several times to the face, her nose and jaw felt completely dislodged, out of place. He landed immense blows to her stomach. Alexa was screaming for help, for someone, for something. The more she screamed, the harder his punches fell. She was curled in a ball on the floor now, trying to protect herself in any way, and he was kicking her. He was shouting at her, calling her names, swearing at her. Alexa hoped that someone would hear him. She lost consciousness, blacked out in the middle of another kick. How many times he kicked or hit her after she blacked out, Alexa had no clue. She had no recollection of anything.
Alexa awoke in hospital. Intensive care. Relief and fear struck her simultaneously. She struggled and tried to cry out, desperate to know where Rosie was. A nurse rushed over and reassured her that Rosie was with her grandmother. As soon as she knew Rosie was safe, Alexa lost all senses again. She spent several days slipping in and out of consciousness. She felt immense pain yet relief and hope dared to show their faces.
Eighteen years later, Alexa looks back to that time and marvels at the journey of her life since Rory nearly killed her. She recovered fully from every wound Rory delivered that day. There were still marks on her heart but Alexa had learnt that they were a part of her. She shouldn’t be ashamed of them or try to cover them up anymore. They showed her how strong she had been, what she had come through and what she had survived. Rosie was at university now, studying to be a pharmacist. Alexa was so proud of her. She often wondered what both their lives could have been like if Rory had handled life differently. Rosie would have loved her father so much if she knew the man he used to be.
For so long Alexa blamed herself. She wondered why Rory didn’t seem to love her enough. Why she drove him to violence. What was so wrong with her. Her self-esteem and confidence and self-love were completely shattered by the love of her life. She had learned to love herself again and she had learned to find love again. Alexa remarried. She was happy. Her experience was a part of her and it always would be.
Rory had spent time in prison for the brutal attack he committed. When he got out of prison he slipped straight back into his old lifestyle and remained a slave to alcohol. His body began to crumble and the years of self-abuse had finally taken its toll. Rory died in hospital, alone and desolate. Rosie never spoke to her father and nor did Alexa since the attack. When she thought of Rory dying alone, without a soul to comfort him, she felt a severe wave of pity and grief. Yet, she knew that man was a stranger to her. The Rory she fell in love with died many years ago but she survived.