She sat at a red light, waiting to turn on to the freeway. As she waited, she went through her 'To Do' list in her head.
Pick up the dry cleaning
Stop by Wal-Mart and buy toilet paper and dog food
Go to the gas station and get a car wash
Go to the grocery store and...
She saw him. Sitting in his work truck at the red light waiting to get off of the freeway. He looked the same, but different. She hadn't seen him in years, and seeing him now, she looked at him the way a stranger might.
He sat in his truck and was probably going through his mental 'To Do' list. He looked the same age, but his hair was longer. He looked a bit heavier. He was flattening out the hair that made up his goatee, stroking it from his nose to his chin; something he did when he was nervous or thinking. He had no idea that she was looking at him.
It had been years since they'd spoken. Four? Five? She actually was shocked to see him, although they both traveled in the same community and social circles still. She wished they could've remain friends, he did not. He wanted her for his own, not as a friend. It was his pride that wouldn't allow them to even speak on friendly terms or as strangers might. He wanted her, but because he couldn't have her under his conditions, he wrote her off completely.
Never mind that they had dated for five years before they married. That they had grown up together - they started dating when she was a junior in high school and he had just graduated. They were kids when they became a couple. When they married, they were still too young. And every single sign that was given to her said "DO NOT MARRY HIM". But young love is stupid love, and she thought that the problems she had before they married...the drinking, the lack of respect, the emotional and physical abuse, the dictatorship that they called their relationship (him being the dictator of course)...that would all change once they got married and became one.
It didn't. Just as everybody told her, it wouldn't change. But how could she believe anybody else? Why would she? They were in love, and that was all that mattered, right? But if you don't even understand what it means to love, how can things change?
She wondered what would happen if they ever ran into each other at the grocery store? Would he stop and chat? Would he turn away as if he hadn't seen her? They still knew what was going on in each other's lives...they had the same friends and he still kept in touch with some of her family, and she spoke to his brother occasionally.
"How are your kids?"
"Do you still have the same job?"
"Still living in the same place?"
"It was nice running in to you! Tell your parents I said hello"
She doubted it. She figured that he would take the easy way out and turn the other way.
But what would she really want to say to him? In a letter maybe, what would she say? Her true feelings? Would she sugar coat it or let it all go? All those old feelings of being trapped and unable to fix it came flooding back.
We should never have gotten married in the first place, but I felt trapped. We dated for five years. It was a rough five years, and we should have broken up. But I kept hoping you would change; that things would get better. That you loved me enough to compromise on the few things I asked you to do. But you wouldn't.
So after five years, it was either shit or get off the pot. Get married or break up. But I couldn't imagine life without you! I accepted your proposal.
Do you remember a few days before the wedding when we talked about not getting married? I wanted to say "let's call it off" so badly, but I couldn't. All that money, all the people with travel plans and gifts for us? I would hate to inconvenience them.
But do you know what? In the grand scheme of things, I'm glad that everything happened the way it did. I appreciate my life so much more now. I have a man that loves and respects me...he taught me how to love myself and understand that I AM WORTH IT. I have value, I have worth. People do want to hear what I have to say and value my opinion. I am not just an extension of him, I am a strong, beautiful, smart woman and deserve to be treated that way.
It hurts me to know that you didn't understand this. It hurts me to know that you wouldn't even try to make changes simply because you loved me and because I asked. I didn't ask you to change anything that would make you less of a man or less of a person.
Yes, I understand that I have blame in this, too. You were never going to change and you said it over and over again.
And so when I finally got up the courage to leave? Finally got a little self respect? It had nothing to do with you...it was all about me. I could not and would not live that way any longer.
And I am so thankful for how things worked out.
All the best,