My childhood was rife with fear and confusion.
I was afraid and cornered and trapped and hated.
At 16 I gave up and ran like a wounded animal.
I had money for food and 5 nights in a hotel.
I cowered there in abject misery.
I had nowhere to go, no one to help me.
I was forced to make that terrible phone call home.
You are no longer a part of the family.
My father said nothing, just sat quietly.
A show of parental solidarity, I suppose.
Mother did all the talking.
From that moment onward I was an orphan.
Nothing more than what the law stated.
A roof over my head and food.
Those years are a blur of sadness.
I applied to two different colleges.
Was accepted at both.
But my budget was $100 a month short.
Parental assistance denied.
The final year of High School I would meet Stanley.
He made me laugh.
He had a good job.
He was the first person to love me.
On the last day of school I moved in with him.
Where else could I go?
Better than the humiliation of Mother throwing me out.
We married when I was 19 and Stanley was 21.
His family was horrified.
One of his sisters sobbed loudly and uncontrollably during the ceremony.
I put him through his Technology degree.
I worked full time to pay the bills.
We had a son when I was 23.
My daughter when I was 25.
There were ups and downs along the way.
We bought a house and a car and were responsible grown-ups.
My son developed Type I Diabetes and I was terrified of him.
I thought I would accidentally kill him.
His father almost did.
We moved, then moved again.
And somehow in all the chaos I lost myself.
The downs began to far outweigh the ups.
Promises were broken and trust was shattered.
Deep down inside something burst and hope died.
And the desire to live went away.
Stanley reacted the only way he knew –
I found a psychologist who saved my life.
And one day I gave up.
But this time I had a plan.
I found a job, took classes in University.
I sat Stanley down and told him that I was done.
After 23 years together I had nothing left to give.
He didn’t understand because he never understood.
He would just have to accept the facts.
Promises were made to shield our kids from the worst of divorce.
Stanley co-signed a mortgage on my condo.
He thought I was bluffing.
I have never mastered the art of subterfuge.
I was more than good at my job.
Promotions came quickly and I was valued.
I wasn’t stupid after all.
Leaving Stanley was the first time in my life I would be alone.
The journey to save myself came at a cost though.
I may not have been willing to pay if I had known.
My son saw me at my worst.
I was ashamed to have needed him.
He was still too young.
My daughter was angry and would stay that way for years.
I failed her.
I wish I hadn’t.
I wish I had been stronger, sooner.
I filled my new home with things that made me smile.
I constructed a haven from the world where I could just be me,
As soon as I learned who ‘me’ was.
I surrounded myself with beauty hoping it would rub off.
I drank wine, listened to music that made me cry,
Napped, stayed up late and slept in.
Ate nothing but cheese for dinner because I was tired.
Wore pajamas all day on my days off.
Then The Viking found me.
And he was smart and kind.
I told him something was wrong with me.
That he would someday find it.
It would probably be terrible.
I have been unlovable my whole life.
I don’t know why.
Stanley had only loved what I did, not who I was.
The children loved Mom but didn’t know me.
The Viking promised to tell me when he found it.
Maybe I could fix it.
In the meantime he loved me anyway.
It took 3 years to I realized that I didn’t need to be alone anymore.
The Viking understood more than I knew.
Probably because he has his own demons.
And at the end of the day,
We belong together because we can’t be apart.
And if autonomy is independence,
Then the only way we get there is together.