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Life with an abuser is always all about them–their needs, their wants, their money, their family. It all belongs to them. Our time and our lives belong to them. We scurry about doing our best to make sure that we’ve covered all of the bases. Life becomes a frightening game, trying to anticipate his/her next move, his/her next demand. Somewhere in all of that we lose ourselves. We are robbed of those moments that feed the soul, those moments that are so necessary to survival under even “normal” circumstances. We are denied the opportunities to recharge our batteries, and we grow weary under their crushing demands.

I’ve been living alone with my children for 15 months, and we finally just went for a drive this past Saturday. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that before I married my abuser. The kids and I were rushing down the interstate, as usual, to go pick up my vacuum from the repairman in a nearby town when my 6 year old spotted a bridge and asked where it went. I promised him that we would take that route on the way home. When I was married, there was never time for that kind of foolishness. Dad would be waiting at home, hungry, and we would have groceries to unload, and he didn’t like the mess, and he would need to get to bed early. We always had to hurry. He especially didn’t like coming home to an empty house! I’d been in trouble for that before and didn’t want to go there again. It had just become habit to hurry, to try to not be gone too long.

So now, we were about to break that habit! We finished our errands and our shopping and headed north on the freeway. I then took an off ramp and let my 6 year old choose left or right. I told him the name of the town we’d pass through if he chose left, and I told him the name of the town we’d pass through if he chose right. He liked the sound of the one to the right, and off we went. We meandered through the historic little town, gazing in awe at the old buildings and speculating what it would have been like to live there in 1900. We drove slow on the tree lined back road that hugged the curves of the river. It had been very hot on the interstate, but it was cool down there in the shade between the river and the irrigated fields. We crossed the old railroad tracks and drove parallel to the old train bridge, a relic from the days when all goods came in and out of the Pacific Northwest by train.  It was glorious!

Such a simple pleasure to slowly take the back way home.  A simple pleasure I’d been denied for 17 years.  A simple pleasure my children had NEVER experienced.  My son is already planning our next trip home via the other route.  He keeps saying the names of both towns over and over again as though he fears forgetting them and perhaps forgetting the experience.   I won’t let him.  We’re going to take the long, slow way home every chance we can and feed our weary, starving souls on the beauty all around us.

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