I’ve been a free woman for a year.
And when I say free, I mean it literally.
I became free.
I’d been in a relationship for five years, and at least 4.5 of those years were toxic. Looking back, I was in love with the idea of being in love, and the idea of the perfect family. I swore that I would only ever have children by one man, and I also swore that I would never leave, because I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of being a young single mother with emotional and physical baggage, and I was certain that the shit I’d been through would ruin my chances of having another relationship. I believed I was damaged.
I used to flinch at everything. I would cry in the shower almost everyday towards the end, and I contemplated suicide at least twice.
I used to hang out of my bedroom window and wonder what would happen if I just threw myself out. I knew it wouldn’t be death, not instantly anyway. But it was a cry for help. I knew I’d be seriously injured, I knew that people would figure out I was unhappy and I knew that they would realise that I needed to get away. That I needed to be free.
Looking back now, I have no sympathy whatsoever for my former self. I could’ve and should’ve got out sooner. I was weak and I allowed myself to fall apart when I’m surrounded by women who have been so much stronger than I’ve ever been. I’ve never had a man around the house, and I’ve never seen anyone rely on a man before. I’ve pretty much been surrounded and brought up by single women who did the handyman jobs (not always great but whatever) mowed the lawn, fixed the car, play fought with me, watched football, took care of bullies and basically filled two roles instead of one. I had a mum and a dad, without having a man around and I saw my Nanna do the same for my mum. I thought that I would never fall into the trapof falling for someone who treated me with little respect or anything less than I deserved, and if I did then I would kick him in the balls and leave with my head held high. I was brought up to say no if I didn’t want to do something or go somewhere, I was allowed to express my options whenever and wherever I could and I was sassy as hell. I threw strops, I argued even when I was in the wrong and I always thought that I knew best. I was demanding and impatient and took the biggest risks, not knowing if they’d pull off, but I knew my own mind and I knew that if I wanted something, I would get it somehow.
But then I met him.
He suffocated me, he diluted all of that sass and personality and stomped all over my kind nature. He took advantage of my generosity and my willingness to please everyone around me and moulded me into somebody nobody liked. He told me he didn’t like my friends, and gradually I started to look at them in a different light, especially when they said they didn’t like him. He blamed me for everything in his life that went wrong, he said my choices and decisions had left him in the shifty situation that he was in, and therefore his shit job, his lack of income and his poor uni grades were my fault. He told me I needed to tone up, that I’d let myself go too often so I’d spend ridiculous hours in the gym, buzzing off fat burning tablets and dizzy from skipping meals. I’d make myself sick just to lose a little bit of weight I’d gained from eating one two many takeouts that he let me pay for, every single time. He was jealous when I achieved anything, so much so, I considered rejecting a job offer just so I didn’t have to deal with him loathing me any more than he already did. And then when I took the job he pestered me so that I pestered them weekly until they gave him an interview. He accused every male friend I had of fancying me until I stopped talking to men altogether. He told me I needed to be more assertive on nights out with men who offered me a drink, to the point where I snapped at a man that got a little too friendly one night and ended up getting punched. He told me that I’d failed as a mother, when I came out of hospital with post natal depression and didn’t just fall naturally into the role like everyone expected me to. And worst of all, he put his hands on me to the point where it became normal. It started with him almost breaking my arm when he got so angry that he twisted it behind my back and shoved me against the wall. He told me he’d kill me and I believed him. After that I lost count. He pushed me down a flight of stairs mid argument, punched me infront of our friends because he was drunk. Dragged me down the street on the floor whilst I was pregnant because I’d been sick all day and couldn’t stomach date night and almost knocked me out in front of my mum when he punched me in the middle of the street and I hit my head on the concrete. He was violent and aggressive and everyone knew it. But I defended him to everyone. Our college tried to separate us and sent me to counselling and him to anger management. My teacher, my friends, my mum. They told me they were afraid for me but I didn’t back down. I thought that somewhere deep inside there was someone who loved me and that one day, he would change and we would live happily ever after.
There was no happy ever after though. There was just argument after argument and in the end it wasn’t the physical abuse that ended us, but the emotional. He left whatever was left of me hanging by a single thread and for months let me believe that he was on the verge of leaving. That he could no longer put up with the person that I had become and that if there was one wrong word or one step in the wrong direction he would be gone. I was on eggshells, thousands of them and every day for two months I weaved in and out and tiptoed around them with baited breath.
And then I met someone who encouraged me to start walking without fear. And I walked right over them. I felt them all crack beneath me one by one and I didn’t care. I didn’t care one single bit.
That was a year ago today. A year ago today I told him to leave. I didn’t care that it was 6 days before my birthday, or that we’d just celebrated our five year anniversary, or that I was in my final term of uni with a three year old and a new job.
I told him to leave and it was the best decision I ever made. Because even now, with a fiancé, a four year old and a wedding in 6 months. I am freer than I’ve ever been.
I am happy.