I was supposed to be in Seattle for Thanksgiving. I wanted to be in Seattle the day after I called off my engagement. But instead, I lived in the same apartment with my ex for 10 months after breaking things off because I was financially unable to leave. The situation kept getting toxic but I did my best to make every day livable as I kept making my plans to move cross country. To the outside world, we were just taking a break from wedding planning while I navigated my new career path as a freelancer, but in reality, I needed to save money. I needed to somehow get a new car. I needed to secure some freelance contracts. I needed to stay awake so that I wouldn’t be startled out of sleep when he slammed the front door when he walked in drunk in the middle of the night. I needed to keep it together for the days he broke down in tears, begging me to stay and make it work while flipping the switch 5 minutes later to call me an ungrateful bitch who just used him for money. I needed to remember to lock the bedroom door so he wouldn’t try to crawl into bed with me while I was sleeping. I needed to survive one more day. One more day. Until I could finally leave.
Then the day came and I finally got in my car and began the drive to Seattle. It took me 3.5 days in December to go from DC to Seattle. Every time I stopped the car long enough to nap, I worried that I would wake up back in that bed in DC. I made it to Seattle but I couldn’t cut ties with him. He called and texted every day, using the excuse that he was taking care of my cat. He promised he would give her back to me once I got settled. He screamed at me. He cried and told me he didn’t know how he could survive. He continued to hack into my emails. He catfished my friends, who all turned their backs on me, leaving me completely alone in a new city. He stalked me. He threatened me. He never gave my cat back. He told lies to his family about me, who ignored my pleas to take care of him because he wasn’t OK. He put my life in danger from 3000 miles away.
I kept moving forward, trying to make a life for myself in this new city. I came within 48 hours of being evicted from my apartment. I lashed out at my family. I found myself at the bottom of the bottle whenever I could afford it while writing for content mills for a penny a word to keep my head above water. I changed my password a million times. I slept with a knife under my pillow when I did sleep.
I never told anyone what I was dealing with every day.
I got a job. I got more clients. I met people who relentlessly pushed through my walls to make me feel safe even when they didn’t know just how much scar tissue had been building up for years.
I moved, two steps forward three steps back. Or is it the other way around? I can’t tell most days.
I survived. Somehow. Barely.
I made it one year. Two years. Created new traditions. Constantly ran away from Seattle because I didn’t think I could call it home. Setting down real roots in this place meant that they would probably get ripped out.
But slowly, I found my people. I found a glimmer of light in myself. I pushed. I slept sometimes. I grew a lot (I think). I gave my heart to others. I gave all the pieces of myself to the universe. The pieces came back jagged, cutting into my scars, yet I keep moving forward somehow.
But here’s the thing.
All I want to do most days is scream.
I still have vivid nightmares where I wake up and I’m back in my bed in DC, stuck in a loop, feeling a prisoner in my own life.
So I don’t sleep.
Heartbreak after heartbreak, resentment has been building up and I don’t know how to release it other than to push people away because I want to just scream at them for not just getting all of who I am right away when I don’t even know who I am today.
Who am I now that I’ve realized I can stop running, that I can forgive and begin to heal?
Who do I deserve?
What do I deserve?
What kind of love will accept me not just with my scars but with the uncertainties of who I will continue to evolve into?
I say that it feels like I’ve lived lifetimes since I moved to Seattle but the truth is that I relive the events that led to the move and the following few years where trauma after trauma hit me on a constant loop. I say that I’ve grown and healed and while that may be partially true, the fact is I am still holding on to who I was then as a way to keep people away.
I don’t know how to share who I am today without the postscripts and the post-postscripts and the context and the prologues and and and
Happy anniversary, Seattle.
It’s been 7 years.
Maybe next year the healing will be a little less messy.
I guess that means I need to actually begin to forgive myself for wanting to move on.