December 1991. I was living at the other end of the coast with my son’s father. I was
two* months pregnant and happy in my new life. I know, I know, I’ve always been good at telling lies to myself, so instead we’ll say at least I believed I was happy and leave it at that.
You see, I thought he was good for me. Here was the first person I’d ever known that I could tell ALL my secrets to. ALL the secrets stuck to the deepest recesses of my soul. He wanted to hear them, would help me dig them out. He would make me feel better about myself, about the past. He would share stories with me from his past. He had issues, I knew that. I understood. I really thought we were making things better for each other. We could talk and joke and make plans for the future and make love. It was the first time in my life that I’d had good sex, really good enjoyable sex, without having to be stoned or drunk. He gave me this gift. I felt accepted and loved by someone. I belonged somewhere.
I would have done anything for him.
He thought a particular style of clothing was hot on me? Fine, I was happy to feel sexy for him.
He felt uncomfortable about me letting any of his friends in while he wasn’t home? Fine, I’ll keep the screen door locked and not invite them in to wait.
Uncomfortable about how often I spent talking to my brothers? Fine, I didn’t have to phone them so often. I really did have five brothers then, my flesh and blood brother and four of his friends who used to watch out for me in Canberra. They were my chosen brothers. I reduced my contact with them.
Spending too much time with my friends on the coast? Hmm, umm, yeah, okay, there have been a number of uncomfortable conversations lately. I really don’t want to keep hearing how bad this relationship is for me and trying to explain how good it is. I’ll reduce the contact.
Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t tell me what to do or not to do, but he knew just what to do and say to get a desired outcome from me. All these changes in my life occurred before we moved in together. I was excited when we did. I’d lived away from home before, but I really believed that this time I had found where I belonged.
Things might have been very different if I hadn’t been pregnant. He changed when I became pregnant. His mother had scarred him emotionally. Terribly. I became pregnant and in his eyes I became… a mother. He was less subtle in his actions. At times he would punish me emotionally, although I couldn’t see it at the time. I look back and I don’t remember drifting into a depression while we were together, which is also a puzzle I’m trying to solve. I never once doubted that I wanted to be with him. I just didn’t know how to… heal him.
The end came just weeks before Christmas 1991. He had been offered a few days on a fishing trawler and told me he was worried about me being at home alone while he was gone for three nights. He suggested I go stay with my parents until he was back. Ohh, how thoughtful, to worry about what might happen to me. I smiled, feeling loved and cared for. He finished by telling me he knew I’d be safe in the flat, but he didn’t know what I would get up to. It would eat away at him wondering what I was up to at night. Cheat? Me? I told him I understood his fears, that it was from his mother and that I would go to my parents for a few days.
Ouch. Honestly, I didn’t think twice about it. I didn’t see anything wrong with what he’d asked for. As I said… I would have done anything for him. It was decided, I would go for a few days and return on Saturday. Shakes head.
The next morning we left the flat and walked to the bus stop. I had enough money for the bus, a phone call and maybe a small drink. It was a hot day, stinking hot and humid. I boarded the correct bus paying my fare to the other end. Hmm, there’s a fractured memory that maybe he purchased the ticket. Anyway, within minutes I began to feel queasy. The heat and the smell of sweat. Ugh, my pregnant self couldn’t handle it. The bus was coming towards a large shopping centre so I got off, found a small cafe and bought myself a small drink. I sat outside and waited for the sickness to go away before getting on a new bus to finish my trip.
At the time there were no buses that would go near my parents house, so it would have been about an hour walk from the nearest shopping centre. I was still queasy when I got there, so I used my last coins to ring my parents, leaving a message for someone to collect me from the shopping centre.
I began to wait. And wait. And wait. No one came.
Hours passed and with no money left, I began to collect abandoned trolleys returning them for the 50 cent deposit. I made more phone calls, leaving more messages… that I was still waiting, that I would continue to wait. The shopping centre began to close, the rain came, it began to get dark… and I had one 50 cent piece left.
I waited. I began to cry. I began to ask… Why? I wasn’t really asking about anything in particular, just… Why? The question bubbled up from my subconscious. I cried. It continued to rain. I was alone, sitting outside a shopping centre, it was getting dark, I felt sick to my stomach. I was cold and wet… and still no one came.
My question took a direction… Why am I here? It all began to crash in on me, everything that I had been letting happen. Everything that had led me to that moment in time. I sat outside the shopping centre and cried my heart free of my son’s father. I finally understood I could never go back. My friends had been right.
In tears I went and made the final phone call to my parents, the final message… “Please, I’m still waiting. I’m coming home. I can never go back. It’s Over!”. Within an hour my mother arrived. They had been in Brisbane for the day.
The universe had stepped in and made certain that I could see what had to happen that day. I honestly believe that. If I hadn’t been stuck there all day, I would have been back with my son’s father on Saturday. It took all day for me to finally see what had been happening, to understand that the relationship really had been bad for me. To understand and know with every part of me that I couldn’t go back. For my own sanity, I couldn’t go back.
* Two months pregnant. For years when I’ve spoken about this day I described myself as four months pregnant. Today I counted the months and it came up as two months. Huh??!! I counted it again and again thinking… that can’t be right! When I accepted it as correct, it brought some memories from later when I was four months pregnant. The mind works in strange ways, don’t you think? Someone feel like trying to get the contents of my mind into some kind of order? A librarian might be good, or maybe it’s more faulty cabling, so electrician might still be the go… Needs to be good with problem solving!
Image credit: © Jacek Sajdak | Dreamstime.com