This is the place I go to, over and over. The path behind me is overgrown and eroded; I know better than to take more than a couple steps in that direction. But the path splits where I stand, and I can’t move forward without making a choice.
Until now I’ve only stood at this juncture. One path is treacherous but well-lit and promises scenery and adventure just around the first bend. I, however, am paralyzed by a hundred vividly imagined disasters and one triumphant dream of freedom. The other path is easy but desolate, cold and devoid of anything vital and alive. It looks familiar, though, and I welcome the idea of no one being around to yell at me or call me names.
He always told me I lived in a rainbow unicorn fantasy world where people were kind and fair… and I did. I miss it.
Divorce isn’t fun or easy for anyone. A high conflict divorce is even worse… especially if the conflict is constantly being generated by one person in an effort to hold onto power and control at all costs. Now stretch the proceedings out over three years… and perhaps you understand why I haven’t ventured far. No contact wouldn’t be possible since we have kids, but at least I could have dodged a couple of blows if the divorce had happened the way I’d hoped. You know, with a little dignity and respect… but that was a naïve pipe dream. He always told me I lived in a rainbow unicorn fantasy world where people were kind and fair… and I did. I miss it.
I’ve tried to reach out for help and tell people the truth about what my marriage was like, and was eventually ostracized for it. I’ve asked for help from pastors and church counselors, from therapists and doctors, from family and friends. It was a little shocking at first that their responses were to minimize, rationalize, point out my part, criticize or suspect I was making it all up. Like most victims of long-term emotional abuse, I started to second-guess myself, even wonder if I was crazy (a key part of my then-husband’s endgame — we’ll call him Drew here).
I was too scared to leave. He told me too many times that I was damaged and he’d been a victim of non-disclosure. I would never find anyone else. And it took a long time to come to terms with the fact that my love wasn’t enough to change anything. Twenty years, in fact. And another three since I left (it was literally either leave or die)… and I find myself standing at this Crossroads again, and again, and again, watching everything I loved getting ripped away in Drew’s effort to keep me from setting my foot on the path of truth and life. He promised to bury me, to leave me with nothing, and to wave when he passed me by on the street I’d someday call home. That street doesn’t exist where this path leads.
The second I finally, FINALLY hit that “publish” button, I will no longer be stuck at the Crossroads, done contemplating the somehow safe but dismal road to eternal victim-hood and all-encompassing CPTSD.
I was meant to live, to shine light on all that was lost in the dark, and share the truth in the hopes that I will heal… and possibly contribute to another’s healing along the way. I might hurt some folks, too, but that is not my intention. This is not revenge. This is my story. I deserve to tell it, and then I deserve to finally move on.
Welcome to my blog, the Gaslight Special. I’ve finally arrived.