It can be freeing, even peaceful within the moments abusers are attempting control you from afar. This is not in all cases, the implementing of control tactics can be dangerous, can be emotionally crippling.
This Christmas it was a reprieve. With his refusal to financially provide for day to day life for the children also came absolute withdrawal of any pretense of wanting to know how they are. Some may argue that is awful for the children, question how much they must miss him. Our truth was entirely a different experience. We have long realised the self engrossed entitled nature of this being who happens to be biologically related to them. Each day becomes an active lesson as to how absent he is.
With this absence, this void many imagine comes space. Space which comes from the absence of fabricated events, from manufactured arguments with friends and family, from fear of not creating a holiday period worthy of expectations. We breathed.
We languished in our own freedom, our times with those we truly love, doing all the things we love no matter how small and unimpressive. There were no moments of foreboding, moments of confusion or fear. Everyday a gift we afford ourselves to slip and pour into the spaces that should have always been ours in our minds.
The months of illness and exhaustion paled.
The release and peace within me had become such liquid space I floated in that when the prognosis of stage three breast cancer came, I smiled at the surgeon and said "of course it is". Pain and fear lurk around the edges of my thoughts, the long term safety and lives of the children the sole over riding thought.
How strange that in that moment and the days since I have felt that the person who completely deliberately attempted to obliterate me as a human is more terrifying and hideous to me. The invasive growth within me feels like a friend I know well, a shadow that lurked within me for so long once unmasked I knew this was no alien being.
It is no more than the fear that I lived in for so long, it is not unknown like the cruelty that encompassed my life, it is not greater than the crippling anxiety I was left with. There is trepidation on the practicalities of life, there is worry on how to aid the children through this time.
I know this trauma within me. I understand the threat it holds. I found myself exhaling, as I fight what is within me I know the shadows that have haunted me for so long are being exorcised. With each breath they become part of another world, banished from my existence, from the world I inhabit. I have stared into the abyss too many times to do anything but exhale as I jump higher than I ever have.
Post treatment I focused on my children, supporting them and communicating the progress their father made. The whole while he remained silent, no calls to the children, no concern for how they were. All contact was about him, his health, and what he was up to.
I offered to get second opinions for him, to show his notes to others if he needed help deciphering things. Silence.
Whilst I kept home secure, and the children in their lives and routines, I was fully aware that when the drama was over, when the attention reduced around him I would face the fall out. It was a matter of when and where and keeping us as stable as I could. In movies we see families running, putting measures in against the pain that hunts them. It becomes harder when it is someone who was part of the family, and when no one else can see what you fear.
The news came, he had his results post surgery, no further treatment was needed, physio to strengthen his legs and the prognosis that his life would not be reduced by it. The emotional gathering around him reduced, and the rage that followed found it's home, me.
I had led him to grow a benign growth on his spine.
The same hereditary growth his uncle had before I ever met him. He had struggled since he walked out of the family home with his bin bag containing my belongings he stole. His health and life had become unbearable because of me. Whilst the children and I picked up the pieces of the trauma left behind, healed the wounds from all the lies we uncovered, he suffered whilst hiding pay rises, and bonuses. He suffered as he flew through girlfriends barely making it into adulthood.
This suffering would no longer happen, this life he was being held back from, would no longer be out of his reach. He had sacrificed feeding us when he lived with us, and was still doing it.
The solution to his suffering was finally clear to him, we had to fend for ourselves. If I needed anything for the kids I should ask him and show proof so he could then purchase whatever it was. He would take them for meals, and give them gifts. He had not been able to do that before because he had no money, sacrificed continuously for us. The extra thousands he earned and hid did not exist.
My health was my responsibility, the stress of single-handedly raising the children was my fault, I had bought it on myself for being controlling and cruel to him. Should I want to find money for bills or groceries I could drop my writing and trying to build up our lives, and get myself a job. He was kind enough to research starting salaries for me, and to tell me to find one. If I found myself unemployable I should apply for benefits.
Surprising the fact he no longer considered childcare costs? To most of us when we work and bring nothing home we question our balance in life. It is remarkable how at every turn whilst he lived with us there was a reason to keep me at home for the "best interests" of the family. Now he is addressing all his sacrifices and losses in life the best interest does not extend to the only ones who cannot look after themselves, the children.
There comes a stage when abusers cannot pull back from their rage. They push so hard, want to destroy so badly they put into place actions that are hard to camouflage as anything else to those they abuse.
He can hobble about garnering sympathy from his willingly blind family and friends.
However when those who are on the inside cannot celebrate Christmas without the help of friends, cannot feed themselves without selling our belongings, when my movements have yet again become clipped, controlled by the with holding of finances, there is no camouflaging the beast that truly lies within.