Assignment for class:
List one thing you are experiencing that you never expected when you left your abuser, explain.
Flipping off the lights I listen to the humming of the overhead fan. As I crawl into bed, my head lands on the big white fluffy pillow the day’s events randomly run through my thoughts. I turn to speak stopped by the emptiness of the other side of the bed. Remembering no one shares my covers with me anymore. Turning back I continue listening to the fan until my mind stops and falls into a restless sleep.
The evening news has a ridiculous report I call out your name to share the stupidity, abruptly I stop, recalling no one is here. Gossip at work, craziness downtown, something broke my heart, stirred feelings of happiness; these go unshared. Hours of being alone watching TV, discovering new music, no hand to hold, no lips to kiss, no snuggling on the couch or smile that melts, these are the moments you don’t realize you will crave.
You get a divorce thinking life will be peaceful and satisfying when loneliness pounces on you like a lion. A majestic roar deafens your sense of accomplishment. The nothingness sinks its teeth into everything you do; feasting on your contentment. Lying in the shadows he watches waiting to creep into the darkest the deepest depth of your soul. Borden sets in attacking any glimmers of hope and shredding any peace. While the shadows of night fall, Loneliness snarls.
My ex was working the late shift so when I got off work I decided to stop at the grocery and get something for dinner. I wandered around the store trying to decide what to buy picking something up and putting it back down. I knew what I wanted, but would he want it. If it’s not hot dogs, pizza, or fast food he’s not interested in it. He’ll come home look at what is cooked then suggest we eat out. When I say no thanks I already made dinner, the pouting will start and snide remarks followed with “I was just kidding”.
I buy the broccoli, cube steaks and rice hoping he’d be too tired to fight. Next, I wanted to buy a glass of wine, but do I want to open that door? If I drink it seems to give him permission to get wasted. Every night he goes in his room and has a few shots of vodka. If I drink he will add several glasses of vodka and coke along with the shots. When he drinks life gets unpredictable.
I am so tired of having to monitor everything I do to make sure he behaves. I want to go to the store and buy what I want for dinner and not have to worry it will turn into something more. It would be nice to have some wine or whiskey and not worry that the cops will be at my door. I am praying for God to be preparing me a way out of here soon.
When you get a divorce you worry. How am I going to pay bills? How am I going to repair the van? What will people at church think and how are they going to act? Do I care? Then you focus on how you failed.
The day before I filed these were my thoughts. However, on the day I filed I realized that women like me have a whole different reality – we are alone. We have no close friends. There will be no one deciding whose friend they will be, mine or his. There’s no shoulder for my tears. I needed contact with people I knew wouldn’t judge me, so I text my brothers and called my sister. She encouraged me that I was doing the right thing; that this will give me a chance to be happy, but I couldn’t touch her. I needed to look in her eyes. I sat in my car searching my brain for one person to share my sense of loss. I wanted someone to hug. Someone to listen.
What do I mean by women like me? I spent 29 years married to a man who was abusive, mentally and for a while physically. For reasons not to be discussed here, he wasn’t able to make and keep friends. When I had a friend visit he was in the middle of everything: our conversations, projects, or he pouted about being ignored. I learned to have my friends over when he was working but when I went to work that was no longer an option. Over time, my friends dwindled away.
As I drove to work feelings and thoughts rushed into my head. Are you crazy? There’s no future for you! Is this better than staying? Is this my life now? For months I prayed, planned, debated, and agonized. I dreamt of the sense of relief that would come on this day – but instead, I felt isolated and overwhelmed.
After work I attended group, watched a movie with my children, trying to adjust to what I was sure to become the new normal. As I crawled into bed, my phone lite up. It was a text from my brother, Matt, saying “Smile, Sis. Life is just waiting on you.”
Then I realized I needed to find my life, instead of waiting for it to find me, I needed to find……’me’.