I left it. My handcrafted home, filled with pictures of children, memories of tears and laughter, and the unpainted putty around the window he smashed when he attacked me in the kitchen not quite set even after a year had passed.
It is my biggest regret that after, what I refer to as the incident, that I didn’t insist he left. That I didn’t have my own back enough to be able to do the one thing that might have meant my good relationship with my children wasn’t the biggest casualty of the past 6 years. It seemed impossible to do. I wasn’t sure enough of my feelings, I hadn’t reached the place where I KNEW what was happening. I was clouded in emotion, guilt, upset, shame. My connection to my feelings and my self had been diverted by this insidious relationship that had stopped being a healthy joyful thing and was now leaching my lifeblood away. I was more concerned about him and how he felt than I was about how this affected me.
So I spent a year hiding in my bedroom. I crept downstairs to make dinner in the slow cooker for everyone and ate separately. I could not stand to be around him but he did not retreat. He stayed, eating the dinner I cooked with my sons, sitting at the kitchen table with no sense of shame because it was all my fault.
I went to work in the business we shared and he didn’t. It was painful, embarrassing and ultimately ineffectual. The business was dissolved 3 months after I left, I had managed to keep it alive for a year before then. It’s still hard to even think about how hard that all was. I still don’t really have the words for it.
When I left I took a suitcase. 34 years of my life was in the house. I went to stay in a friend’s flat for 3 weeks and when that ended moved into my parent’s spare bedroom. After 3 months I became a property guardian. I was kept alive by some sales work that a friend gave me, I lived off £500 a month and paid £250 of it to the Property company. I was too ashamed to work as a temp locally, and too beaten to consider doing anything more demanding.
I lived in other people’s properties after years of being a home-owner. I had lost the people who made any building a home. I had only myself and my LDR with my love who I had not acknowledged was that. I was bereft. It seemed to have no end. It felt like it never would end.
These periods do end though. It’s the nature of life that it moves in cycles. As the wheel of fortune tarot card shows, those at the lowest point can know that it will turn, as it has to, that’s the way of things.
It was a gradual climb back to a sense of balance. My sense of home had to become rooted in myself and in certain small rituals. Fresh flowers, even if they were wild ones replaced my garden. Pictures of my kids replaced everyday interaction with them. My books out on a shelf no matter where I was and good bed linen on every bed I slept on even if it wasn’t mine. And my love, my hand fitting in the dip of his chest as we lie together, entwined so beautifully, his scent, that I breathe in deeply every time we meet and when we kiss goodbye, the regular, pulse of morning greetings and evening good night that anchor me to us and give me back my broken wings.
I look around today at the life I have built, at the home I have populated with some of the things I salvaged from my old house and some things that I chose from second-hand shops or was given and love. It has taken a long time, years in fact, but I now have a home again. One that I will take with me regardless of where and how I live.