…was the day I was set free.
I could say you set me free but that would not be true. For setting me free was certainly not in your plans, especially not this carefully long-thought-out calculated plan of yours. I can only imagine though how disappointed you were when the outcome was far from what you had expected.
I suppose I was surprised as well because I never knew until that moment how strong and courageous I actually was, and perhaps always had been.
On that day six years ago — February 13th, 2009, on a sunny Friday afternoon around 1:30pm — you waltzed out the front door with a little spring in your step looking like someone going on a grand adventure. Yep, I remember it very clearly. And how before you made your departure you turned to inform me I would need to get my own credit card only to find upon inquiring what happened to ours — you had kindly removed my name. And then, on your way you went. Oh yes, how very well I remember, but as you had always reminded me — I remembered everything and could forget nothing.
And so here on this day it was almost unbelievable, this total turn from all the anger and rage you had shown the night before. The night you spat in my face how you were packing up your van and leaving! Yes, it was almost unbelievable if this had not been the norm in my life with you for so many years.
And you really thought I would care? Did you really think I would come running into those arms which had shown no remorse for years? Did you really believe I would try to stop you?
Or were you completely caught off guard that your carefully laid out plan, the one you had been devising for months beforehand was not going as you thought it would? The plan where you would threaten to leave and I would cry, begging you to stay because how would I ever live without you — yeah, that plan.
So here you were on this day six years ago suddenly appearing all loving and caring, telling me how you’d come back in a heartbeat if I ever wanted you to. And there I was staring and feeling numb, feeling stupid that I truly did not understand what was going on. What were you up to now?
Ah, the crazy-making of it all. None of what you did that day, or the day before, was truly surprising and you would think after twenty years with you I wouldn’t have felt baffled by any of it, but I did. You had created our life around this type of crazy-making. There was no way of knowing what any given day or hour would bring. No hint of whether you would show love or hatefulness; compassion or clenched-jaw anger. But you know all that because that is how you kept me off guard all those years. Actually, I always felt on guard — tiptoeing around on eggshells waiting for the next thing to happen. What an exhausting life it had been — how very tired I was all these years later.
And perhaps that is why on that sunny Friday afternoon six years ago I felt numb, confused and just so tired of the games.
The day you left…
…I was free at long last.
And as you stepped on out the door with that smug look of victory on your face and our checkbook in your pocket which I would later discover gone — and yes, I remember it quite clearly still — I felt years and years of weight suddenly lifted from my shoulders and all I could do was sink to the floor in a flood of tears.
Did you care at all? Had you ever truly felt anything for all those years you used hate-filled actions and sarcasm-dripping words towards me and our two sons? Did it ever, just once, truly bother you? Tug just a little at your conscious?
How does one go about degrading, demeaning, showing a lack of empathy and love towards their family and truly not care? Did you really just not know what you did or how destructive it all was to our family? Or did you truly believe that I was the cause of your problems, that everything you did was because of me and who I was or wasn’t? If I were just prettier, smarter, more respectful and submissive you would have been a better person? Is that truly what you believed or is it just what you had to believe so you could justify what you did?
Well, let me tell you something that you should know — on that Friday six years ago as you got in your van and left — our youngest son hugged me tightly as I sobbed. And trying to reassure me he quietly told me over and over, “It’s not your fault, Mom, it’s not your fault.” This same 13-year-old boy you had treated so rudely and unkindly for a long, long time — the same young boy, your son whom you had helping to pack your van so you could walk out.
And perhaps you didn’t care either that our oldest son had run from the house before you left and it would be hours later before I would see him again. Not knowing where he’d gone, if he was coming back. But you had left — what did you care? And for the next several days and weeks, and even to this day, I was and am the one left dealing with his anger because of what you had done.
But did you care? Why should you have? You had left, walked away, in some warped thinking that maybe just maybe, I would finally see the light at how much I needed you and could not survive without you. But what you overlooked is that by your leaving you actually opened my eyes to how abusive and destructive you had been in not only my life, but that of our boys.
Your leaving did the one thing I’m sure you were not anticipating — it allowed my eyes to open and truly see my strength and courage. What you did for me that day is not what you were hoping for or planning on I’m sure, but you know what they say about the best laid plans — always expect the unexpected. What you had meant for your benefit and for your gain, instead was used for good towards me. You gave me freedom to be me. The freedom to no longer live in fear, walk on eggshells or worry about not being good enough.
The day you left…
…six years ago…
…was the day I was set free from abuse.
And you should know, not that you would care, but no matter how imperfect I was, no matter how many mistakes I made, no matter how I cut my hair or cooked a meal or cleaned or didn’t clean the house or — all those things you reminded me of constantly — I never deserved to be treated as I was by you. And most importantly, you need to know that no matter my faults, no matter how I acted whether right or wrong, or whether I was good enough or not for you — I was not the cause of your abuse. It was your choice.
I may not have known the extent of your plan on that Friday afternoon six years ago, but over the next few weeks and months, and even the next several years, I would learn just how manipulative your plan had been. It was not a spur of the moment decision as you had tried to make it appear. You had carefully planned out details which would start to become very clear to me in the months to follow. Filing our tax return a week before you left — oh how very clever. I’m sure you never anticipated me being smart enough to find out about the refunds being transferred to your own bank account you had opened when you left or how you closed two of our joint bank accounts and took the money. Oh, I know how disappointing it must have been for you to discover I actually had a brain in my head and was not as dumb as you always treated me.
When I asked for half of the refunds and money from our bank accounts — detailing it down to the penny — I’m sure you were shocked. But then it began. You always just wanted to fight and interestingly you would always say that about me over the years. The hateful emails started coming, letting me how nothing I’d done in our 20 year marriage was worth more than 2% and that’s all you would give me. How I’d done nothing all those years to contribute to our family — just how worthless I truly was. The one thing that actually makes me laugh today as I write this, is if I was such a dumb, ugly, worthless person then why would you stay married to me?
The day you left…
…the Lord heard my cries and set me free.
That night as I lay in the dark bedroom, tears trickling down my face and fear clenching my chest about what tomorrow and the next would bring I turned to the one place I had not gone in a long time…the Truth.
By the light of my bedside table lamp I opened my bible to the Psalms and this is what I read through tears which blurred my vision:
“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.” ~Psalm 118:5
Laying back against my dampened pillow, I felt the tears stop and a peace wrap around me like a warm blanket, and sleep came to me that night like it hadn’t in a long time.
When you left six years ago with some grand scheme in mind you failed to realize that God has much bigger plans for us.
When you left He came in to pick up the broken pieces you left behind, to wipe away the tears you had caused, give peace to hearts filled with turmoil, and to redeem lives shattered.
I’ve allowed anger and heartache from the past to hold me hostage, but today it is finished.
I’ve been angry and tired for far too long. Angry at the years of abuse — yes abuse — which you directed at me and your two sons; angry at the story you weaved to benefit yourself and destroy me; angry over all the years gone by which can never be gotten back to tell a different story; and tired of being told it was my fault; tired of hearing the lies of who I am or who I’m not, of what I did or didn’t do; and oh so tired of shouldering things which were never mine to carry. Most of all, I’m tired of not speaking up and telling my story.
So today, this is my story, this is my truth and if I had the chance to speak it to your face this is what I would say: You were abusive to your wife and children. You chose to say and do the things you did all those years because of you, not because of me or anyone else. You destroyed a family by the decisions you made and the lies you told. And you made the decision six years ago to walk out that door and leave. It was all about you and after all, isn’t that how you always wanted it? So I suppose in the end you got that much, but you lost so very much more. How sad for you.
And today — six years after you left — my life has been redeemed. It has not been an easy road, but I survived and am living a good life today. The Lord has redeemed those lost years in a way I would never have dreamed. And today, I choose to celebrate all the good in my life.
The day you left…
…was the day redemption began.