Have you ever left in the dark of night, with nothing more than a suitcase in hand, heading toward the station, so to speak? You might have left to hop on a bus, or on a train, or you might have driven away in your own car. No matter. The train was leaving the station and it was abundantly clear it was time for you to go.
Despite the circumstances surrounding how you leave, for some of us, there are happenstances in life when we have no choice but to leave, suitcase in hand. I do wish for you, dear reader, that you've never had to or never have to in the future, but it happens more often than most people imagine. Just know you will be ok. Not today. But in the future. You WILL be ok. Stick with me here and I’ll tell you why.
First, let’s back up a little. Are you a dreamer like I am? Did you marry for love? Did you expect it would all just turn out ok? Did you believe that your partner naturally must be constructed of the same moral fiber, the same ethics as you were; therefore, the marriage simply must turn out well? Did you expect that you would be treated with respect, love and appreciation for all that you are and everything you contribute to the relationship?
Or do you fall prey to lies and deceit, which, once discovered completely dumbfound you? Do you get completely taken advantage of and ask yourself how you could have possibly missed all those red flags that were whipping wildly in the wind right in front of your face? Do you just happen to miss (or discount) the looks on your friend’s faces and on your family member’s faces when they first meet your significant other and wonder what on earth you see in that person? Do you ask yourself how it was possible that you could have been so naïve?
When you finally wake up to reality and see the light after something so egregious has happened that it can’t be ignored, what emotions do you feel? Rage? Sadness? Disappointment? Humiliation? A combination of all of the above?
There’s nothing more disheartening than finally waking up to the reality that you’ve made a horrible, and very expensive – both emotionally AND financially – mistake that you must unravel yourself from by slowly walking backwards away from it.
I wish I had better news for you, but it’s going to be awful. There are many hills you’re going to have to climb, and it will feel like you’re doing it slowly and backwards.
Unfortunately there are people in life who wrap themselves tightly around you, but who don’t deserve you, and who will make extricating yourself from them the hardest battle you’ve ever fought. You’ll have to stand up for yourself harder than you’ve ever stood up for yourself before.
My proverbial trip to the station took place a year ago. After years of constant verbal abuse about all the things that I was doing wrong or not doing enough of, it turned physical. I was grabbed so hard my wrists erupted in instantaneous ugly yellow bruises, a soaking wet hand towel was thrown at high velocity right at the center mass of my face, my laptop was shoved to the floor and broken, and my phone was hidden from me so I couldn't call for help.
That was when I called it. It was time to leave. I grabbed a suitcase and filled it with the essentials, running to my car to escape before I could be accosted again. I drove all night, 700 miles to my son’s house, replete with the knowledge that my marriage was over. My soon-to-be Ex pretended none of it happened and that I’d be coming back in a week or two to accept more verbal and physical abuse at his hands. He underestimated my resolve to live a much safer and happier life without him.
From this experience, I gained valuable knowledge. If you intend to not fall asleep behind the wheel and want to stay awake for 48-hours straight, two Red Bulls and a large coffee will do the trick. You’re welcome, dear reader.
I took a trip back home a few months later, at a time I knew my husband wouldn’t be home, to get more of my belongings. He had changed the locks. When he finally came home, he refused to let me into our house. I called the Sheriff, to tell them my husband had, in effect, stolen my second car that I needed to get off the property. My husband called the Sheriff to tell them I am violent, and he was afraid of me.
If I hadn’t been so angry, I would surely have been laughing maniacally. But clearly this wasn’t the time to act like a lunatic. So, let me see if I have this straight…my husband, who is seven inches taller than me, twice my body weight, has military training, and owns dozens of guns and knives that are hidden all over the house in the event of lord knows what, is afraid of me? I’m sorry. Please pause for maniacal laughter.
No matter how awful the situation, just know that you do have a way out and you can head to the station with suitcase in hand. And try to find moments to pause for maniacal laughter, because you will have earned it.
The reason I tell you this story is so that you know you are seen. If you are suffering with a partner who treats you terribly, who uses you, who abuses you; who doesn’t make you feel safe, loved or protected; you will be ok. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t just stay, throwing in the towel and giving up, settling for less than you deserve. It may seem easier in the moment to just carry on as you are, but I assure you, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and you CAN get out.
They may have diminished your self-esteem. They may have stolen your time, your money, and even your possessions.
Know this: You can make better use of your time in the future. You can earn more money to replace what you’ve lost. And you can acquire new possessions. Keep reminding yourself that it’s just stuff.
Above all else, just know that you’ve earned the right to live a happy life. No one has the right to take that away from you.