The walls are bare, and despite the rigor of carpet cleaners, a few stains of living remain.

This was once a home. Now it is just solid walls that echo with the moments of 6 years. Nearly exactly.

I pushed for the things I wanted, and this place was one of them. Ironic, considering that when the process began so long ago, I was determined to make my own happiness. I remember him flinging the loan papers across our apartment at me. Angry because I wanted to read the whole thing before signing and wouldn’t just scrawl my initials in all the appropriate places.

A little voice, even then, noted discomfort. Yet I drove my heels stubbornly to fix in place. I think it may have been the first time I really held my ground over something that truly mattered to me.

If I have to go through married life like this, at least I can make and have my own home.

Some days I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn. About many things, but that in particular.

A few people have said it takes two in any situation. But I look back at the years, and think of how hard I tried… I don’t know what I could have done differently. Except let myself feel more, and clutch numbness less. It’s hard to be honest with someone when there is a 75% chance he might take it the wrong way and rage. Sometimes the ideal of strength, of being a heroine in a tough situation, kept me fooling myself that I could get through it if I just put enough time in. If I could just weather the storm, there ought to be blue skies ahead. But there never was.

I could have handled neglect. If he hadn’t started lying so obviously, hadn’t started threatening those I held dear, hadn’t started including comments of us both killing ourselves…

I was too brave. I put up with things too long. And he wasn’t brave enough.

So here I am, sitting on the floor in our old bedroom. Thinking of might have beens. It is a lot like our relationship, looking at this empty home full of stains and blemishes. All his spaces bear the most of the neglect, a result of the mental chaos he managed to make real in our lives.

Now to get myself off the ground. Pick up the cleaning supplies. Start working. The last time I will ever clean up after him.


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