I’ve reached a milestone.
My name, in cursive, sits near a notary stamp in a stack of papers. That stack starts with a piece of paper that signifies that the pile has been “recorded.”
It’s official. In the eyes of the law, I’m now allowed to turn the page. I mean, I never needed permission to move forward from this period emotionally, and I have been gradually over the past year.
Little by little. Day by day. I’ve moved forward. And I will say some days were really, really hard. Some whole days were hard. Some whole nights were hard.
And then it became where some hours were difficult. And then it became where some moments were challenging.
And then those same moments that used to alternately send me into panic attacks and fits of frustration suddenly, without warning, became ridiculously humorous. It was like, with time and space, I could look at the maneuvers coming at me, read their underlying, intimidating intent, and tip my head back and laugh.
And I did. Hard.
I could laugh because I knew I was free from his grasp. That no matter how hard he tried, and he tried hard, his antics wouldn’t paralyze me any longer. And “paralyze” is a strategic description. So appropriate.
He would sometimes leave me unable to move, emotionally. I couldn’t make a decision. And it was such a helpless, demoralizing feeling.
But, I know now I won’t feel that way again. Ever. I won’t allow it. It just won’t happen, from him or anyone. I’ve found my footing.
I also won’t tip toe around the house ever again, concerned my opinion, my tone, my words, my actions might set off some kind of unwelcome reaction from him.
Done doing that.
I won’t ever sit and silently hope that he will fall asleep. That he’ll just fall asleep and let the argument or the energy in the house fizzle out into the night, that I won’t be held hostage in a never-ending fight that could go, without resolution, until dawn. I’ll never have to make that quiet wish, in my head, again. I reached my quota.
So, that’s done.
I will never have to worry, on my drive home from work, what I will walk into when I get walk through the door into my house. I know exactly what I’m going to get now. And it’s peace. Unless I’ve had a babysitter and there are chips and cups everywhere, but I know I won’t walk into an ambush or a ridiculously irrational argument that has already been recycled time and time and time again.
From now on, I know what I’m getting.
I know I will never again sacrifice my own comfort for someone else’s. And, I’m not talking about lending an umbrella or sweatshirt to my kids because they’re cold or wet, thus making me cold and wet. I don’t mean that kind of comfort.
I mean emotional comfort. I won’t sacrifice me feeling comfortable in a situation, an environment, my life, just to be sure the other person in my life is comfortable. Because, that’s crazy. And I was doing that, like, daily. Because I’m a pleaser. And I just wanted to keep the boat steady for as long as possible. But doing that takes pieces of you. It crushes you. It changes you.
So, that’s over.
I won’t be someone’s air. By that I mean I won’t be responsible for pumping someone up every day. Every single day. I won’t be someone’s lifeline. And I won’t ask that of someone else. I’m okay with me and I will only be with someone who is okay with him. At his core. If I’m responsible for keeping someone else inflated, then everything falls back to me when it goes sideways. And when there’s a leak? Forget about it.
It sucks you dry. Until you have nothing left.
I won’t be doing that ever again.
I’m done looking down. Took a little time, but I’m done looking at the street or the sidewalk or whatever other random object to avoid eye contact with strangers or even casual friends. It was horrible. But it seemed like the only option at one point. It was a survival tactic.
I’ll be looking up from now on.
I won’t be accommodating when I don’t need to be. Not anymore. I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to say “no,” and beyond that, to be in the driver’s seat. This goes beyond any man, too. It goes for everything. I am allowed to say what works for me, and wait for someone else to find the compromise.
I mean, I’ll still compromise, of course. When I want to. But it’s not a requirement for every situation.
I won’t have to worry about my environment any longer. I know what’s in it. I control it. I’m adding the ingredients. And it won’t include the bitter taste of anger, manipulation or dishonesty.
I’m done being manipulated. By anyone. This whole awakening has schooled me on human behavior, so now I can recognize unhealthy social circumstances in other people. And I won’t have anything to do with it. Because I’ve had my fill.
So I’d rather pass on that.
I won’t allow my kids to see me in an unhealthy relationship, ever again. That is one my top priorities, because they saw it for so long. They began to think certain exchanges, certain episodes, were normal. And they weren’t — not even close. I’m hell bent on demonstrating a loving, healthy, supportive relationship for them. Because they need that.
And, lucky for me, I now know what that looks and feels like.
I’m through making excuses for someone else’s behavior. For rationalizing it. That ship has sailed. It’s exhausting and transparent and makes me look like a fool. And it goes against my own desire for authenticity.
So, I’ve kicked those excuses, and that habit, to the curb. Permanently.
And, I won’t hide anymore. It’s pretty simple. I hid a lot of things for a very long time. I hid them from friends and family. And I tried my hardest to hide it from my kids. I hid things to protect him, which ties back to the comfort thing. It detached me from normalcy because it was never fully exposed.
The whole exercise made me feel sick inside, and the stress made me physically ill, to the point I suffered internal bleeding. And permanently puffy eyes from crying, so much so I would research ways to neutralize the swelling.
So, I’m done hiding. I mean, I don’t have much to hide anymore because that judge’s stamp is on that stack of papers. I’ve moved on. And in moving on, I’ll be an open book.
Because I’m told it might help someone, somewhere. Someone who is still hiding. Someone who is still silently suffering, still wondering what they’ll walk into at the end of the day, still being someone else’s air.
And, it’ll take time. Days at a time for them to move forward. But they’ll eventually reach their own milestone. And then they too will turn that page.