I fastened the baby carrier and walked down the corridor to the door. He was standing there blocking the only exit in our small apartment. Momentarily panicked, I whispered “let me out,” as the ball of life on my chest slept soundly and oblivious to the sorrowful scene in front of his perfectly closed eyes.
Minutes prior to this, there had been a threat to kill me. Hours before this, a lot of shouting, being flung against the wall, hands bracing my neck; lack of breath, lack of life, lack of love.
Days before this, he, the father of my new-born, dragging me, the mother of his newborn, to the kitchen to do the washing up; just hours after giving birth and still bleeding from the waist down.
A few days before that, on the day that changed the course of my life, he told me I was breastfeeding all wrong, that I was changing the nappy badly, that I was good for nothing.
Months before, sleepless nights, as it dawned on me that I would eventually have to raise the little bump inside me alone; that the dream didn’t mesh with reality, and that my romantic idealism would not come through on this one.
Years before, mistreatment, a lot of hanging up, jealousy, possessiveness, control, lost friendships, anger and lies.
A decade before, meeting who I thought was the man of my dreams; that charming, blissfully good-looking, too good to be true soul, who fell madly and deeply in love with me.
Or so I thought.
And then love turned to hate.
And then I can’t go back.
No matter how hard I try.
No matter how much I love him, no matter how many gifts I buy him, no matter how much of my soul I hide, no matter how much I try to change myself, no matter how brilliant I tell him he is. And no matter how much dignity I lose.
So I leave to save myself, but above all, the life that I am carrying with me on this journey now; the life that has taught me what love actually means. Reminding me what softness and tenderness can feel like, reminding me of vulnerability, at the same time as empowerment. Reminding me that things can change. That things grow inside and out of me to push past hatred. And that I can steer myself back to love, back to the truth of being, back to myself.
It will take a while. And that is okay.
So I leave, pushing past the resistance at the door, running down the stairs fearful but determined, never looking back. Running away but also running back.
I turn a corner and the whole world suddenly feels mine.
Relief infiltrates me like a foreign body.
I sit with the pain, but everyday, the colour comes back.
I smile back at my son, as he giggles from his heart to mine.
There it is: there is love.
I inch my way back to love.