‘Knowing when to walk away is wisdom.
Being able to is courage.
Walking away with your head held high is dignity.”
April 14…a date marked in history.
Last year on April 14, I stood alone before a Judicial Magistrate as she told me I was about to break the contract I had made some 22 years before, an action I did not take lightly by any means. She asked if my estranged spouse was present, and as I explained he had been, but he had left angry, she paused to question what had upset him, then struck her own comments from the record. She trudged through the formalities I’m certain she had cited many, many times before – about alimony, name changes, child support, living arrangements, custody and the like. I listened intently with my brain; my heart had left the building quite some time before. As she finished, she thanked me for taking the children – a comment I thought odd at the time, but would all too soon realize the wisdom of, and wished me well. I walked out the double doors, the sun shining on my face, grabbed my phone, and posted my first Facebook post as a single woman, “I AM FREE!” I walked down the street to my car with a pep in my step I’d never experienced before…a huge weight had been lifted off me, and it seemed like it was visible to all those around me.
The first few months were awkward but manageable. He wasn’t going to make it easy, by any stretch, but we’d left things flexible enough to work through them. The summer came and he took the kids half the week, and I had them the rest of the week, as agreed verbally. I was working a job, working on myself, personally, to figure out who I was without him and who I wanted to really be and trying to redefine myself as a parent in the wake of the damage left behind by his hurtfulness. This went along fine through summer, and I was rebuilding the me I’d lost as some point along the way.
Then school started back up for the kids. And something inside of him broke for good. There really is no other way to describe the events that took place – or the person he became – from that point forward. He started following us, threatening me with evil and angry texts and phone calls, texting the children in inappropriate ways, breaking into our home, staking out our home – he basically was a predator. My personality morphed instantly into one of paranoia and intense fear for our safety – quickly transitioning from the locked car to the locked house, my cell phone constantly at the ready to call for help. I was forced to seek out police support, and eventually obtained a restraining order to protect all 4 of us – against the man I had built my life with; the father of my children – he was now no longer to come into contact with us directly and only had minimal contact with his children.
The most important constant during all of this has been my resolve to work on ME through anything that comes forward. I have come last for so very long, when I started the process, I hardly recognized myself. I was a mere shell of myself – beaten down so badly – emotionally and intellectually…the only way I could build was upward. Looking back over the last year, it’s painful to see where I was, and yet so glorious to see where I’m headed!
I am so incredibly happy right now – happy…I may have never been happy in my entire life, and after all this time I’m learning what happy is all about. I am learning what the purpose of feeling my emotions is all about – and how truly beneficial that simple act is. I have learned that coping strategies that worked as a child no longer work effectively as an adult, and that I need new strategies – I’ve gained them, had the courage to use them, and realize their worth. I am excited when I see someone who hasn’t seen me in a while – the change in me is VISIBLE. I am whole – not fixed…because I wasn’t broken. And I certainly still have work to do…as we all do. But with the dead-weight of that broken, defective relationship off my back, I am free to work on my junk, my issues, my life – it’s so incredibly freeing…I just want to shout it out!
Most excitedly and terrifying, I am dating! Yes…I am dating…and it’s crazy and complicated and ridiculous. But one thing is certain – and a year ago, I never would have said this out loud – I am worth it! I am worth a great guy and happiness and the old-fashioned love I am looking for. And if that takes another forever to find, I’m worth waiting for! And that statement alone – that took me a lifetime to realize…but this year, this past 365 days were not wasted on me. And neither will the next 365. I can hardly wait to see where I’ll be!