Most people I know were all about flags and lighting gunpowder toys and swimming and cooking outside yesterday; for me, yesterday marked a year and a half since I left my abuser.
I spent my day alone, for the most part. I helped a friend move a carload of things (well, I intended to help, and showed up after most work was done). I came home and sat in my apartment with my dog and watched Netflix.
A friend thought perhaps I was lonely, and called me, and we talked for over an hour (I think perhaps he was lonely). But I was content. I mused on how powerful it is, to choose being alone, rather than scrambling to be around people.
So yesterday, on Independence Day, I mentally celebrated 18 months of independence from:
-Fighting to the point of exhaustion
-Embarrassing screaming matches where we pretend the neighbors don’t hear us
-Never knowing where the remote, scissors, lighters, or car keys are.
-Being late to work because I’m crying in my car.
-Putting on more makeup to hide the fact that I’ve been crying in my car.
-Flinching when someone gestures broadly
-“Phasing out” (i.e. being so emotionally overwhelmed that my brain literally goes into a fog to prevent a breakdown)
-Apologizing for my feelings
-Apologizing for behavior which no one else noticed or objected to
-Pot smell, pot ash, pipes, bongs, rolling papers, all over everything I own
-Looking for a place at a party where we can step away and have an argument without anyone noticing
-Lying in response to the question “How are you doing?”
-Lying about nearly everything my partner does
-Lying to myself
-Coming home from a 16-hour motherfucker of a day and needing to soothe someone else’s emotional state
-Finding behavioral similarities between the children I teach and the man I’m with
-Changing the passcode on my phone and tablet frequently
-Filtering my conversations just in case he finds a way to read it later
-Being afraid to speak my mind, and mentally planning rebuttals for how my argument might be twisted
-Shifting my vocal tone softer and higher to avoid giving offense, until I feel like a cartoon character
-Being afraid of a shift in his vocal tone
-Being afraid to wake him up
-Being afraid, period
-Accounting for how long it took me to get home
-Sitting in a Dennys or Starbucks or Target before I go home, just to catch my breath
-Sinking dread/anxiety the instant I pull into my driveway
-Making plans and having no confidence that I will be able to keep them, if he’s in a “mood” that day.
-Creating convoluted cover stories for what I was doing when I want to spend time with someone he doesn’t approve of
-Defending my friends and family from criticism
-Feeling like a terrible person
-Feeling wrong for how I feel
…I could go on. I’m about to start going in circles. But it took me some time to recognize all of these, and now every goddamn day without him feels like a long stretch after a good night’s sleep.
Every day feels like the breath you take after surfacing from a high dive.
Every day feels like the sunny meadow in a motherfucking allergy pill commercial. I’m not joking. Even the rough ones are better than what I had two years ago. I can’t for the life of me understand why I stayed so long.
The only thing I can truly be grateful for is how much more I appreciate a quiet day watching TV on my own couch.