my stay in purgatory.

July 4, 2019

Today was bittersweet. It marked the last fourth of July; not only with Tyler, but with his family and our beautiful home. We had Aunt Liz, Uncle Pat, Lindsey and the kids, Aunt Sue and Andrew, and Nicole and Jason. Tyler’s workmate, Magno, was able to come too. I made my traditional barbecue chicken in the crock pot and a bunch of sides. After Ty’s family left, we all hung out outside and watched the fireworks from our pool. We swam and just hung onto each other, knowing that connection wouldn’t be that way in the morning. It was one of the best memories I will carry with me from this home. Tyler got drunk, probably to ease the pain of knowing this was the last memory in our home. The pain stung a little deeper tonight, with the heartbreaking realization that my time here is coming up. I feel like an unwelcome guest in my own home. Time waits for no one. Not even if you beg it to. I’m going to miss my life here more than I can even imagine. I am leaving my home, my sweet dog Lemonade, my husband – who has had my heart for over ten years – and my hopes and dreams for the future we were robbed of. We were supposed to be building a family here. We were going to build a home here. Together. All of my hopes and dreams are destroyed. It feels like they passed before their time; like they fell down in mid flight. I am losing a family, the hope of my own family, the joy of a beautiful puppy growing up. I am losing my entire life.

July 18, 2019

I’m sitting at our dining room table tonight with the glaring reality it will soon be my last. I have seven nights of life as I know it left. Seven nights of Chiefy and Lemon playing together. Seven nights of snuggling on the couch with Lem, waiting for her to attack me with her puppy kisses whenever she deems necessary. Seven nights of going to sleep in my bed and knowing I will wake up to the familiarity of sunlight gently peeking through my blinds. I’m starting the excruciating process of saying goodbye to my home. All the hopes and dreams I had die with it. All the sunsets I’ve watched – the pink burning into the sky until it fades from view – like everything else in life, it is beautiful and fleeting. As I mark all of the items we’re selling, I am reminded of all the memories associated with them. Where we were, what we were doing, how our lives had unfolded up to that point and how much life we thought we had before us. I’m allowing myself to grieve, because I know that is the only way to find closure and to move forward.

____________________________________________________________________

The only proper way to describe that last week was to call it purgatory. I was between my old life and my new fate. It was coming whether or not I was ready for it, and I had no idea what was waiting for me. Nothing I could do at that point would change any of the outcome. Everything had already been decided for me. Some aspects of my own decisions – like accepting my offer for Michigan – and some aspects of the actions of my husband. I had finished working. I had packed up my immediate necessities like clothes and toiletries, and they were sitting in the middle of the living room reminding us that our days were numbered. The side of the closet where my clothes once were, was empty. There was no longer any evidence I lived there. There was a husband, and no wife. I had high hopes that we could reconcile, that he could have a breakthrough, that I would be coming back to my home again, but I knew deep down it wasn’t going to happen. I knew in the bottom of my heart, the next woman to place her things in that space would not be me. The next woman to take up space in my home wasn’t going to be me. Someone else would come in and take my place. Someone else who didn’t hold his feet to the fire would come in and be comfort to him. Someone else would look down when they were getting ready and see Lem at their feet, begging them not to go to work. Someone else would see that sweet puppy lovingly watch as they got ready for the day. As they put on makeup, her little eyes meticulously watching every brush stroke, every hand flick. Each movement and moment leading up to driving out of that neighborhood for the last time was hell. Knowing not only it would be my last, but that another would come in – swiftly – and erase the loneliness I left behind. Because I knew my husband. I knew sitting with his own demons was not something he would welcome for long, if at all.

I had said goodbye to a family I had loved so, so deeply. One I grew to be one of their own over ten years of memories and love. We had our ups and downs, but what family didn’t. Out of all of the memories, all of the dreams and hopes, losing my family was the hardest and most painful part of leaving my life. I lost sisters and a brother. I lost a mother who would do anything for her family – something that became painfully clear once I was on the outside. I lost the memories of a father in law, who at his worst was fighting his own demons, and at his best was the life of the party – always getting into something and making everyone around him laugh. I lost my babies – my beautiful niece and nephews. Something I knew would start the day I said goodbye, but something I deeply and profoundly dug my claws into. They were the absolute last ones I wanted to abandon. I loved them so incredibly much and still do. But at the end of the day, as painful as it is to not see them grow up; to have them become permanently frozen in my memory at nine and eleven, was a necessary evil to respect a grieving and angry wish of a matriarch. In her eyes, I was the problem now. I was the magnifying glass that set fire to her son’s actions. I was the mirror that forced her to look at where it went wrong for him. I was the common denominator. And that stung. But it was understood. It was rationalized. I knew eventually my time slot would expire, I just didn’t think it would happen in the manner it did. I was able to renew my time for four extra months. Far past my expiration date. And for that I am so, so incredibly thankful. But divorce is messy. Hearts were hurt. And standing up for myself, against a man I saw as insidious and they saw as a hero, was the only way out. The people I had known as family, were the price of my freedom. I knew it, I just couldn’t bring myself to fully accept it until I was formally unwelcomed. Unwelcomed from the holidays. Unwelcomed from creating new memories – only left to sanctify the movie reel playing over and over in my head for more than ten years. Unwelcomed from watching my little sisters and brother grow into their own adulthood. Their own families, their own weddings, their own careers. This is the first Christmas I won’t come into the front door without knocking, be greeted by little hands and smiling faces and share in family traditions that far predate me. The first fall I won’t be making pumpkin rolls with them and won’t be decorating (let’s be honest, annihilating) pumpkins at the kitchen table.

This post took a definite U-turn from where I thought it was going – something I have been terrified to put pen to paper about – but a hard and deeply painful truth of abuse. The glaring reality of how someone’s own self-hatred can project on the people they love most and destroy them. In the end, the family as I saw it were innocent bystanders, until standing on the sidelines was all that happened. My sister was there for me through all of it. She listened to my cries, she heard my pain, she understood the hurt. I abandoned her even when she left the door open. It was too painful to see his face in hers every time I saw her. His mannerisms in her when she told stories. Out of all the relationships I have lost through this process, hers is the one I treasured most and the one I deeply regret losing. The one who could call each of us out on our bullshit without taking sides. The one who compassionately navigated my pain, as if it were her own. At the end of all of this, I hope she gets her happiness too. I hope one day, if not today, she wakes up with so much love around her, because she deserves that and more.

So, while the purgatory of my marriage only lasted a few short months, the discarding of my family will last forever. As much as it hurts, I hope that my time wasn’t forgotten. That when they look back on the holidays of the past, the random garage nights and the bonfires where burning of anything the men in that family could find took place – they’ll look back and see me as a family member and not as a defector. I hope that the space I took up, the love I gave, isn’t replaceable. That my slot isn’t just disposable. Yes, there will be another where I stood. But I hope that it will feel different. That sometimes, they’ll look around and miss the space I took up. The things I brought that were purely me. As I’m writing this with tears streaming down my face, I hope they know at the end of the day I will always love them. I may be unwelcome now, but they will always live in my heart.

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