Cherry Red Walls and Normal
Three months and three weeks ago. I left. I blogged about staying in hotels and on friends’ couches and in their basements. I blogged about living out of my trunk- an assortment of suitcases and boxes of graham crackers and granola bars and apples. I wrote about this being a better alternative to living somewhere where I needed to call the police but was terrified to make that embarrassing phone call.
And now we are here. We are in our own house. A house with my name on it, which terrifies me at the same moment that it brings me joy. We are in a teeny tiny old house, a fixer upper far different than the custom McMansion full of granite and hard beige edges that we escaped from. We have color on every wall, pictures and paintings and noisy chaos in every nook and cranny. If you had told me months ago, while I was living in that beautiful cage, that I would live in a house with cherry red walls and a thirty year old stove, I would not have believed you. I would not have believed that I was brave enough to take that leap.
And yet, here I am. I slept with my light out for the first time twelve days ago. It was the first time that I didn’t have nightmares or wake up in a cold sweat. I have slept with the light out every night since then. I have even gotten up and moved around in the dark, thinking this is what safety feels like.
I have been on a date. I have been on a handful of dates with a new man. He is funny and kind and feels safe. He doesn’t have any addictions with sharp edges that catch my attention. He doesn’t have anger that seems to bubble up. He isn’t a Pisces (this is important to my daughter, because my three relationships with abusers in twenty-one years have all been Pisces :)). He doesn’t make ten times my salary, so there is no chance of a gilded cage this time. He makes me laugh til I hurt, and he isn’t so slick/nice that he raises my hackles. He just is.
All of this, while I lick my wounds and heal, and the healthiness of it all, makes me realize how absolutely broken I still am. The normalcy and healthiness of this new life feel so foreign. I am so used to fear and dread that the absence of both is terrifying. Someone smiling at me without a storm brewing in their eyes is foreign and strange. Freedom to do what I want when I want, is such a vast expanse, that I am often paralyzed.
I hope this is normal. As I paint walls and sleep with my lights off, I hope that I am getting to normal. As my kids laugh and slowly unfurl, I hope this is their normal. I hope we get there.