It Happened in Pieces

Disclaimer: This post contains some sensitive topics that could be overwhelming for some viewers/readers.

It Happen in Pieces

Written and Performed by: Dale Chapman

Video Files:

Part One

Part Two

Below is the video’s dialogue script:

It happened in pieces, tiny little turning points. I’ll never figure out when it all turned, because it

wasn’t a single moment. It doesn’t matter how many times I look back, how many times I try to

figure it out. There is no before and after. Just a year of choices.

I’ve heard that people stay in bad situations because a relationship like that gets turned up by

degrees. It is said that a frog will jump out of a pot of boiling water. Place him in a pot and turn it

up a little at a time, and he will stay until he is boiled to death. Us frogs understand this.

It is never ugly at first

It is sweet

Sickeningly sweet to anyone who isn’t wrapped up in it

To anyone who isn’t wrapped up in it

It is simple

It is bad

It is no good

They won’t ever use the word

They won’t ever have a sense of real urgency

Because he doesn’t hit you


When you love hard enough, you can embrace those scars. And when you love long enough,

you excuse or even ignore almost imperceptible changes in the terrain: when he gripped me a

bit tighter, a bit more often. When “How are you?” became “Where were you?”


It starts to change

Maybe he didn’t change

Maybe you did

And that is the problem

It was sweet

Falling asleep together

Him checking to make sure you’re cozied up in bed

But you want to go out with friends one evening

And now it is bedtime

And he expects you

You could lie

But if someone posts a picture

He will notice the timestamp

And he cannot tolerate a lie

So you stay home


Things have never been okay with us. Maybe if I’d paid attention, I would have seen that on our

first few dates. Maybe I would have noticed his possessiveness; maybe I would have seen the

way he wrapped around me, made me his entire world, his obsession. Maybe I would have felt

the weight he placed on my shoulders, one tiny stone at a time.

A person shows signs of clutching on too fast, of being needy, of not hearing the word “no,” of

jealousy, of guarding you and your freedom. But the signs can be so small they skitter right past

you. Sometimes they dance past, looking satiny, something you should applaud. Someone’s

jealousy can make you feel good. Special. But it’s not even about you. It’s about a hand that is

already gripping. It’s about their need, circling around your throat.

It was endearing

His wanting to know every detail of your day

Checking in to remind you of things you’d forgotten

But this new gym habit that you formed with him

Is too exhausting to keep up with your workload

But he can’t understand those who don’t think like he does

He can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to be healthy

So you start going less

And he starts to notice

Says that your body is showing the side affects

Starts commenting on your stomach

Starts asking why your workouts aren’t as long as they used to be

Asks you every day if you’re going to the gym

If you’re going to take care of yourself that day

How do you live under the strain of someone who plans out your every hour

Who has to eat dinner at 5 o’clock exactly

And expects you to eat with him

Even if it means dropping everything you’re doing

Even though it means that he will analyze everything you put into your mouth

Because you aren’t going to the gym like you should

So now you have to watch what you’re eating more closely

To avoid the comments you know will come

People don’t understand us. They don’t understand me. They think it’s so black and white, that

he makes me miserable and that I should be with someone else and that I deserve something

else. But it’s not black and white at all. It’s gray. It’s a never ending world of gray.

The most insane things can become normal if you have them around you long enough. A mind

can’t seem to hold anything too crazy for too long without finding a way to make it seem normal

Like a numbed soldier, I lived from moment to moment, and when the moments were sweet

(and many were), I savored them because nothing tastes as good as hope.

Because even on the bad days when it seemed an eyelash could set him off, when he

threatened to leave the apartment or this world, still each night he would murmur into my ear

that these were the natural ups and downs of love.

But there is nothing natural about war.

What do you do when the one person you want comfort from the most is the one who caused

your pain? How can I want so desperately for him to wrap me up in his arms but also want so

much for him to leave me alone?

The electric way he used to want you

Has become a daily battle

Because the man keeps score

Counts the days since he last had your body

Why would you keep yourself from him?

Don’t you love him?

Why are you punishing him?

Don’t you want to be intimate with him?

You wouldn’t mind being intimate at all

But he is addicted to sex

And you can’t just have a quiet evening together until he gets off

So you swallow your pride

And make him happy

In hopes that maybe things will be good for a day or so

But he is constantly asking

And sometimes you make the mistake of standing up for yourself

Telling him no

He can’t expect you to just have sex with him because we have been together

“long enough”


You don’t want to just get him off today

Why can’t that be ok?

And the cycle of lust and fighting goes on

Until one day

He sends you a picture of his

Bleeding penis

After he has rubbed himself raw

Because you haven’t been doing it enough for him

So his problem

Is your fault

And he reminds you every time

He comments on how the sores hurt

Hurt is a weapon. Better weapon than most because it doesn’t look like one

He was my comrade, sinking into the trenches, grasping at my face, my arm, my collarbone. I

wanted to rescue him. If that meant bearing his blows and his slurred insults, I would do it. If I

could’ve swallowed his sadness, I would have.

I wanted to leave

I wanted out

But his depression was overpowering us both

He couldn’t live without me

I knew that he had almost done it in the past

He had told me about holding the knife to his stomach

Showed me the scar where he made pressed it into himself

Just to know how it felt

I couldn’t be the reason this man took his life

I wanted to be his life preserver, the thing that would keep him afloat. Instead, he became my

anchor. And I’m tired of drowning

He never hit me

I wish he had hit me

Maybe then someone would’ve helped pull me out

I am bruised from battle, but I am not a casualty of his war.

I am free. I am free.

I am mine.

Leave a comment

Back to Blog