The time of reckoning one day comes. One day you wake up and the revelation hits you like lightning. It can be particularly worse when you’re spending the afternoon with someone who seems really content with life as it is. Or, maybe it’s meeting or knowing a married couple, down on their luck but still laughing together, and still loving and appreciating each other. Maybe it’s a final straw – the last injustice he can deliver you, the last condescending syllable he uttered, or the very real sting of flesh meeting flesh.
How many years can or will you endure the control – over how much money is spent, or if family can visit on a Sunday afternoon, or whether your son will have a birthday party this year? How many times did you have to ask for $20, only to be answered with “what do you need that for?” Did you buy the groceries, or did he? How many items on your list never made it into the cart?
How many times did you hear, “you can’t do that”? When was the first time you were called a bitch? Or a whore? Or worse? When was the first time your child heard it? When was the first time the word divorce fell from your lips? How long ago did the physical confrontations begin? How many times did you pick up the phone for help and have it ripped from your hands? How many things were broken, or airborne objects missed you by inches? At what point was a line crossed where you knew it was ENOUGH?
When the time comes, will you be crying, raging, or smiling? All the emotions will be there – every last one – and they all tumble together like ice in a glass… hollow and cold. And how do you leave? Do you do what you must to appease, just to get through the process without being destroyed? Do you attempt an amicable situation, to protect the children and therefore yourself? Or, do you cast fate to the wind and throw him under a bus at first light? And if you don’t, how do you know he won’t? It’s never going to be easy, no matter which path you choose. Someone in control for so many years will not just step aside and relinquish it, just like that. How do you trust someone who’s taken all of that trust away, to do what they say they will? Or, what they will not?
The day of reckoning. No more time to feel alone. No more moments of weakness. No more fear of what you cannot do, without him. It doesn’t matter whether you have any money – and – at some point, it will no longer matter whether you have anywhere to go. You will look at the beautiful faces of your children, and you will know they deserve more than a decade of watching a toxic marriage slowly destroy itself. That they deserve to know what real love looks like, so they stand at least a fledgling chance of love without pain and unhappiness and loss of self-esteem. You will notice the other couples around you, who love and respect each other with no obligation other than to accept love and respect in return – and you will want that, more than anything you have ever wanted before.
You might take that long, long gaze at the unfamiliar face in the mirror – and want desperately to resurrect that woman all your friends say they’ve missed. You want the joy you scratch and claw at every day to stay with you always, without risk of losing it the minute the wrong person walks through the door. If not for them, do it for YOU. You are worth it; every bit of Joy that permeates the earth is yours – you just have to step up and claim your share. And when you do, prepare to be amazed by the warm embrace of people who see the light in your eyes again. Life is short. There’s no time like the present. The time is now. Right now.
We all walk in the dark. And it is up to each of us to turn on our own light. ~ Katherine Hepburn