"No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!"
-C JoyBell C
Today is Earth Day. And here in the southeastern United States, we are definitely in the throes of spring. My rose bushes are weighted down with an abundance of red blooms, green lizards are running across my deck, trees are green with their new leaves, irises and azaleas are blooming, and blue herons are building their nests. With this abundance of color and growth, I reflect on renewal and new beginnings.
Today marks one year of being legally separated from my abuser. North Carolina divorce law requires married couples to be separated for a year with no attempts of reconciliation. My husband last attacked me on December 26, 2010. I called the police, and they took him to jail. Upon release from jail he flew immediately to Tennessee where he had been living since November. My husband was required to attend anger management and parenting classes. Ten weeks into his anger management classes, my husband said he wanted us to be a family again. I had hopes my husband had learned from his mistakes and had evolved into a more compassionate person. So we attempted to reconcile in the spring of 2011.
We visited the mountains of North Carolina with our son during his school's spring break. As a family we hiked the trails and visited craft and antique shops. I had the unrealistic expectation that he would be a changed man. Unfortunately, this was not the case. We continued to argue, and I could see his anger boiling beneath the surface. He blamed me for all our problems. He would not acknowledge any responsibility for his actions the night he assaulted me. I walked on eggshells the remainder of the week worrying he would blow up.
I know now that no amount of anger management classes will change the essence of a person's soul. If they are an arrogant, selfish, uncompassionate narcissist, they always will be. They will continue to believe they are superior, above the law, and unaccountable for their actions.
So upon returning home, I found the resolve to tell my husband I no longer wanted to continue our relationship. I had enough and I wanted out. I contacted my lawyers the next day and once again began the proceedings for legal separation. The date was April 22, 2011.
My son and I have traveled a long road this past year, but our present position is relaxed and joyful. I was initially fearful about our future. Would I have enough money? Would my son be sad without his dad? But we are doing okay. We have lived in our cozy, peaceful house for the past year with our new puppy. My son is happy and carefree. I am calm and much less tense. We are healing, growing and thriving.
And now, we will make another transition.
The house my ex and I bought five years ago has been on the market for the past 8 months and has finally sold. We have three weeks before we need to move out. Remaining in the house this past year and not experiencing the upheaval of moving has been a blessing for my son and I. However, I am looking forward to a new environment with no lingering memories of my ex and I arguing and being shoved against the wall and definitely the memory of that last night.
Material reminders remain as well. He left many of his dress and golf shirts in his closet. Although I moved them to the guest room closet, his presence and odor still hang on those hangers. I have attempted to remove other reminders of our time together. The stupid ugly comforter he made me buy remained on the bed for a short time until I bought my own fluffy, pretty green one. His ugly electric teapot sat on the kitchen counter until I recently purchased my own stainless steel Krups teapot. But no matter how many material items I try to eliminate, the memories still linger in the dark recesses of the house like dust bunnies uncovered at the most unexpected moments.
My son and I will leave these bad memories behind this coming May. I found a spacious apartment full of light near my place of work and my son's school. The apartment is located above a Thai restaurant in a "urban" community with multiple restaurants and shops. Living in this apartment will give me time to find a house we can call our own. In the meantime, I am eagerly anticipating a vibrant summer of less driving, new friends, and new adventures in our lively, new community.
For a permanent home, I am considering building a house in a beautiful, eclectic community I've discovered with a pool and playground about five minutes from my son's school and my place of work. The most significant feature of this house is my ability to define its design. I will choose the floor plan, the wall colors, the flooring and the fixtures. I will create my own peaceful space of comfort, love, and renewal. A space where my son and I can make new memories. Memories of walking to the playground where my son will meet new friends. Memories of my son playing in his new playroom with castles, centaurs, dragons, kings and queens. Memories of my son and I meeting new neighbors and inviting them over for dinner. Memories of my son and I snuggling on the sofa eating popcorn. Memories of sitting on my little patio reading a good book. Memories of sleeping in my own bed in my own room with noone to tell me what to do, how or when. And memories of decorating my own home and creating a beautiful sanctuary for myself and my son.
While I will miss this old house and my wonderful neighbors, I look forward in anticipation to moving to a new environment and experiencing new adventures. As I walk out this house one final time, I will be satisfied to close its door and leave its dark memories behind. Because I know new memories full of light, laughter and love await to be created. :o)