I am coming up to an anniversary of sorts.
Conrad, the man who had promised to love me ’til death do us part and lied his way into my heart, was actively engaged in making the death part come true at this time 11 years ago. On February 26, 2003, we left the city without a word to anyone. Headed west, over the Rockies towards the coast where we would spend the next 4 months hiding out as he planned his escape from Canada, and my demise.
I had already become silent. I had already become the walking breathing dead. I smiled. Talked. Did what he told me to do. And waited.
I plotted ways to kill myself. Dreamed of the ways he would do it.
But I stayed silent. And still.
These were the days of my being buried alive. These were the days of the roaring in my head that drowned out everything but pain and fear and shame and self-loathing.
I haven’t often gone back to those days in memory. It was one of the keys to my recovery. After his arrest and my receiving the miracle of my life, I knew that I was not strong enough to venture back into the darkness. I knew that I needed to stay in the light for a long time to awaken my heart’s memory of beating freely, of breathing without fear. I knew I could not go back to the darkness without risking getting lost in the pain. So I stayed in the light.
Eleven years after his arrest, going back to the darkness is filled with healing. It is filled with release and freedom. I can go back there without fearing what lies in the past. I can go back to cleanse myself of whatever vestiges of shame and pain and sorrow remain.
It is a gift.
To be able to return without fear. To be able to look at those memories without feeling my skin crawl, the hairs on the back of my neck rise. Without crying.
It is a gift to be able to write of those days with a soft heart and gentle soul. I am grateful.
In February of that year, my heart was broken, my soul in tatters. I had run out of options. Run out of energy. Of the capacity to pretend I was okay. My daughters were staying with their father and stepmom. They were terrified of losing me. Horrified by the act of my disappearing before their eyes. I was erasing myself from their lives and they were powerless to stop me.
So was I. Powerless. I had given my power away. Given it completely to this man for whom I had no feelings other than a sick and twisted belief that only he could keep me safe, only he had the answers to my release — and though I knew that release was through my death, I didn’t care. I desperately wanted it.
We were living in a house outside the city limits. Conrad had leased it and told me it would be a place for us to build again. It has an indoor pool, he said. Your daughters will love it.
But my daughters refused to come to see it. They would have nothing to do with Conrad. They’re trying to turn you against me, he screamed. Just like everyone is.
And I would reassure him that it wasn’t true. I would reassure him that I loved him, always would.
It’s the funny thing about our spirit’s fight for life. No matter how dark the world around us, the will to live is strong. It will do whatever it takes to keep the embers of life flickering within.
I didn’t love him. How could I? I knew by then he was the lie, but I had become an extension of him, a victim of his creation. I was attached. To his lies. To his every move. I dared not move of my own volition. Talk out. Speak up. Act out. I dared not do anything.
In this house there was no furniture. Mine was all in storage and every day Conrad would tell me the movers were bringing it to the house. Everyday he’d speak to the woman at the storage place to arrange its arrival. The driver’s lost, he’d tell me. The truck broke down. I’d listen to his end of the conversation and feel lost and alone and frightened and horrified of what had become of my life. I’d later learn he’d been speaking to himself. There was no one else on the line. He’d never spoken to the woman at the storage centre. Never once after the day all my daughters belongings and mine were delivered to her care.
It was what he did.
It was what I became.
The unseen person at the end of his lies. The one on the line who never hung up.
It is an anniversary of sorts coming up. The memories want to flow free. I allow them.
And in their freedom I breathe freely, my cells cleansed of their cloying reminders of days gone by. In their flowing free I know that was then, this is now.
In the now, I am free. I am brave. I am courageous. I am loved, lovable and loving.
I am an alive and radiant woman, touching hearts, opening minds to set spirits free.
And that includes mine.