Holding the panic button

I sleep with a panic button. You know, the little red button on your car key fob that you hope you never accidentally push in the grocery parking lot?  I sleep with that. I tuck it under my pillow and I grip it as I fall asleep.

But I only crawl into bed after I’ve checked the stove. Because, it’s the stove. Right?  Then I check to make sure I’ve closed the garage door, and I check the locks on the front door, the garage door and the sliding glass door.

That sliding glass door isn’t as strong as it was two weeks ago – because it’s been shattered.  Someone was angry enough with me to get in my backyard while I was at work, source a half dozen baseball-sized rocks and throw them, several times, at the dual-paned window.

Totally shattered. Nevermind the fact that my kids live in this house, too.

Scary. But it was only one of three scary things that happened that day.

The last thing I check is a small monitor that shows the view from security cameras stationed around the exterior of my house. Those are new.  Those came after the shattered window. And the shattered window was just one of a series of messed-up things that happened that day.

I don’t check all those things because I’m OCD.  Okay, maybe the stove.  But the other things?  I check those because I’m scared. Not of bad guys in general.

Just one.

There are a lot of things that happen, behind closed doors, that people just don’t talk about. We make choices to keep things close. To dismiss things. To rationalize them.

But, I’ve learned the hard way that there is no way to rationalize abuse, something that is rooted in control. I’ve also learned that it can take an extraordinarily long time to recognize it and then even longer to find the strength to walk away from it.  For a zillion reasons, but for me, because of my kids and because I didn’t know what would be waiting on the other side.

But, somehow those reasons I had for rationalizing certain behaviors became the very, most enlightening reasons that I can now proudly trumpet the steps I’ve taken over the past six months.  Many of the steps were hard. Like, crying-in-public hard.

All of them have been necessary. And, some of it hasn’t really been by my choosing.  Advice, though, has been readily available. And for that, I’m grateful.

“He can only get away with what you allow.”

“You need to be someone else right now.”

“That’s bullshit.”  (<

Someone actually described me as having my own personal terrorist.  It made me laugh, but it was that kind of laugh that settles uncomfortably in the back of your throat because it’s so honestly, terrifyingly true.

Control is a powerful thing, obviously. That’s why someone wants it over someone else. And the ground shifts underneath when you choose to deny someone that power.  Particularly after they’ve owned it for years.  Let me tell you, they don’t know what to do.

I’m living through this, though. I’ll take the low blows, the defamation, the police reports, the manipulation, the lies, the delusions, the double-standards, the financial responsibilities that are being ignored, the court hearings, the intimidation, the threats, the grotesque names and off-base accusations.

I’ll take it. I don’t need to defend myself, because I’ve done nothing wrong. But I do feel compelled to peel the corner back on the truth.

I’m not a “slut,” as I was called today on an open forum. I have never compromised any relationship, including my marriage, and I so strongly believed in my vows that I looked past unacceptable behavior and stayed “for better or for worse.”

Not anymore. People who know me, know the truth. And I have to be okay with that. It doesn’t mean that hearing certain things, and taking those low blows, is not absolutely soul-crushing, though.

I didn’t choose to be hurt. Bruised, physically and emotionally. I didn’t choose that. No one would. But I did choose to change it. I chose to end a cycle for me and for my kids. And, I’ll pay for it. I already am. I know that.

How dare I choose happiness? Right?  The balls on me. I mean, right when I wasn’t looking, someone walked into this shitstorm and handed me my smile. And he’s nice to me. And incredibly tolerant. And that makes me feel so lucky.

The things that are happening here are a matter of public record. I just chose to keep them close. Things that happened before me are public, too. I just won’t be bullied anymore. By anyone.

I sincerely hope I’m the last. I really do. Because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, friend or enemy. It does things to you.

Look, I drew a solid line in the sand. Everyone has their own line. I knew what I could rationalize and what I couldn’t. And the line was crossed. Flagrantly.

So now I do every day in bite sizes.  And I say “Yes!” to things as much as I can.  And I check the locks before bed.  And I tuck that key fob under my pillow.

Because, even with that key fob, I know this life is exponentially better than the one I knew.

Alright already, life. I got it.