While you were sleeping, I had a thought. It was a thought I had entertained, oh so many times before. Every time you called me a name or laughed at me. Yes, yes, I know you probably didn’t think of it as abuse. You never hit me, not physically, but you did with words, and it still hurt. You never stopped to consider that. Very seldom did you even bother to say you were sorry. You were always too wrapped up in your own pursuits and wants. You demand respect for yourself, but did ever respect me? Most of the time, you ignore me completely. When you don’t, it is usually to ridicule something I have done. Everything is on your terms, I am never consulted. Do you ever think how that makes me feel? Is it so much to ask, that I be considered, just once, in your plans? Do I even matter to you?
While you were sleeping, I sat there watching you. I have rights too you know. And I have choices. You aren’t the only one I could be with. There is a whole world out there and it’s not too late for me to be a part of it. Would you miss me if I go? I ask myself that often. If I just walked through the door and never came back, how long would it be before you even noticed I was gone and found someone new? See, I don’t have such a high opinion of myself as you do of yourself. I do not delude myself that I cannot be replaced. Only, now I begin to wonder if it would be such a bad thing if I was. Maybe it would be better to just let each other go, to find someone else and start over. Maybe we were just too young and not really sure what we were letting ourselves in for. It happens. Perhaps too much.
While you were sleeping, I wandered into the kid’s room. They were both asleep of course, without a care in the world. Or so it would seem. They would be the ones hurt the most. The innocent are always the first. But no one ever considers them, not ahead of time, that is. No one ever says “Look, we need to think about any future children before we get involved”. No, no one ever does that, not until the kids are here and then it’s too late. No matter how hard you try, the kids are going to get hurt. I’ll be honest, they are part of the reason I have stayed for so long. But now I wonder if that is a mistake. They say they kids always know no matter how you try to hide it from them. And if they don’t know for sure, they feel it. They sense the undercurrents in the house. When we are unhappy, they are unhappy. I love the kids, but do you ever remember that I was here first?
While you were sleeping, I walked about the house. It’s a very nice house. But it’s not the only house. I could find another one I like just as well. It won’t have the same cozy fireplace that I enjoy so much on rainy days. But it might have a different fireplace. And the window seats– No, it probably won’t have window seats, but it might have something else almost as good. Almost. It might have the same music. Played through a different sound system, of course, one that probably doesn’t make the walls vibrate near the speakers. The couch will be different. It won’t be that big, plush grey ‘sink into the cushions’ behemoth that takes up the entire south wall. But it might be something like that. Something. Something will be missing. The things that make a house a home. Each and every beloved present received from you and the children. The blanket, hand made and carefully embroidered by a childish hand. A bowl decorated with primitive designs by a fledgling artist. A pillow here, an object there, little trinkets received over the years as ‘just because’ gifts. All treasured mementos, but that is beside the point. Those are just ‘things’. You can always get new things. Things can be replaced.
What cannot be replaced are the memories: The night I lost my way and got caught in a thunderstorm but you and the kids came looking for me in spite of the rain. You wrapped me up in a big plush towel and sat with me in front of the fireplace until I was dry enough to sleep next to you for the entire night. The time I was almost hit by a car and you were so scared your voice was shaking when you hugged me. After that, you wouldn’t let me leave the house anymore unless you went with me. The time the dog tried to bite me and you were my champion, fighting him off with a stick. Memories of love.
While you were sleeping, I made a decision. Maybe it is true that actions speak louder than words. Perhaps the occasional inconsiderate word is not enough to negate the years of companionship. You have always been a good provider, I have never wanted for food, drink, or those little “extras”. You have always seen to my comfort and you love the kids as much as I do. I have made the decision to forgive you. I understand that you are not always responsible for your actions. It’s in your nature to see everyone else and less important and not worthy of your attention. After all, you’re only human. But just remember, I can always take a dump on your pillow.