My heart is pounding. My head is racing with every single outcome in my head as my phone sits in between my palms with a decision to make that wouldn’t be easy. I’d gotten comfortable in the midst of a battle field and that was no way to live. My relationship wasn’t happy anymore, it was more of a contract to me in my head than something I actually wanted to spend time repairing and fixing. We’d spent so much time together, so why stop now? Why end what we’ve invested so much of our lives into? I sit up in a bed that holds so many building blocks of my life and I struggle to stand and stay on my feet. I needed to get out. I needed to get out of these four walls that contained so many tears and memories and heartbreak so I could breathe again. So I could feel myself again.
I’d never felt more alone than I did on my bike that afternoon. Hair whipping behind me in the crisp cold air, clinging to the only thing that would distract me enough from the pain in my chest, relating everything I saw to a boy I thought I knew but who has grown to be a stranger.
I finally reach an opening to a path we took on our first date, the trail to the one place my heart felt at peace, where I’d let him in, and let him see, but was now regretting. My tires slow down as my hand clamps the break and I stop fast. As I whip my leg over the side of the bike I feel my pocket buzz. It’s him. This is around the time we’d fall asleep together on the phone. My heart depended on it to be comfortable, and it shouldn’t have been.
My skin is hollow, because he wore it like a glove, and now it doesn’t really fit me right. I shouldn’t have to rely on another person just to be calm in the depths of my own being. I shouldn’t have a problem with sleeping and waking up alone. I shouldn’t swim oceans for someone who wouldn’t even jump a puddle for me and I shouldn’t have to choose between a boyfriend and my sanity. I ignore the call.
The sun is lower in the sky as I look up past the trees that curve over the path. I feel the rocks under my shoes rustle at the pace I’m going, which out of anxiety is basically a slow jog. The path curves and I duck through branches to find a little creek, with a sitting ledge on the side right by where the water runs, but the creek is dry, and the woods are only filled with the sound of branches in the wind.
My heart was disappointed, I needed to be somewhere where I could think and the lack of water in the safest place I could be kind of put a damper on things. I sit anyway. Pull my bike to lean it up against a tree and sit right where I always do. From the time that I was 13 up until now. These rocks and trees have seen the deepest parts of my soul.
My phone continues to buzz, I don’t even want to check it. I shouldn’t feel like I have to answer a phone call or I’ll be yelled at. I shouldn’t have the same rules from my boyfriend as I do with my parents. I shouldn’t have rules at all for god’s sake. I’m not your pet. I’m not someone you can manipulate whenever you feel like it, and it took me way too long to see that. I shouldn’t be able to think of the pain he’s caused easier than the joy he has. I shouldn’t have to ask permission to go out with my friends or go out past 9:00.
It’s like I was being drowned but I was full on letting it happen. I was letting my lungs fill with sadness and insecurity and not doing anything about it and it was starting to trickle down into the stitches of my being, like the depression caused was just part of who I was.
Tears rolling down my cheeks as I tuck my knees to my chest in the jacket he’d given to me that smelled just like he did when he’d pull me in to wrap his arms around me. Little did I know that later down the line I’d call that my prison cell, his arms around me, or his cologne on my skin.
I take my phone out of my pocket and look at my notifications. 7 missed calls, 32 unread messages. “Where are you?” “You should be home by now.” “What do you think you’re doing?” My hands exposed to the chilly air as I scroll through my texts. Looking for reason in my head to keep going. To keep pushing. To stay. But there was absolutely nothing there, nothing I could find to justify what I was putting myself through.
I set my phone on the rock beside me and lay back, the sun had gone down more, and was starting to set, lighting the sky on fire with orange, red and yellow without a single cloud to be seen, and my chest felt better. This is home, this has always been my home, not in the arms of another, and not in the smell of anyone's jacket or the sound of anybody’s voice but my own. My hands running over the cracks in the ground and pushing around dried up leaves as I think of what I want to do from here. Where I want to be.
After sitting and thinking hard, I reach my mental breaking point, and I pick up my phone and call him out of impulse. I was angry, and desperate for an ending, and I knew my mind was made up.
Three rings until the call picks up. His voice was hollow, and stern, commanding, like authority as he screamed at me through the phone because I’d been out too late, and I hadn’t answered him in over an hour. I sat numb, listening to someone talk to me that I didn’t recognise, that I didn’t want to recognise. I shouldn’t sit calm in the midst of being yelled at, but that’s what he trained me to do, because if I cried at all (in front of him especially) the anger would spiral, and it would make everything worse.
His voice begins to question me as I haven’t given in and apologized like I was told to yet, leaving the line silent, and I’ll never forget the only sentence I could muster at the time. “I love you, but you have to let me go.”
The words echo in my head and I can practically hear the shock from the other line. I was always told by him not to stand up for myself because I didn’t need to, but oh was that the opposite of the truth. A million questions fall from his lips, and for some reason unknown to me I couldn’t manage to get angry. I couldn’t get myself to the point of saying anything that would hurt him. It’s not that I couldn’t find the words to do it, but that I legitimately couldn’t bring myself to. I spewed nonsense instead of importance and I was leaving him in a place with closure but no explanation, but I don’t feel like he deserved that anyway.
And for the first time in 2 years of my life I brought myself to hang up the phone, blocking his number. Nothing I could say was going to change what I felt, and he was only saying things to hurt me and I didn’t deserve to hear that anymore. I closed the book on a chapter I thought I couldn’t. I ripped the life support from my chest and I was out in the open, but it was refreshing.
Now, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t crying from deep in my chest. A kind of cry you feel in your soul. I was told not to for so long because it showed that I was weak, but I sat there in the cold, and cried until I physically couldn’t anymore. Not out of sadness per se, but out of relief. Out of freedom.
I slip his jacket from my torso and fold it neatly. Exposing my skin to the air in the sunset lit sky as the knot in my chest untied. I was in pain, but a pain I could bare and and it was better than the drowning feeling I was used to.
I walk a little ways up the creek and set his jacket below a tree neatly and leave it there. I rather be cold than left with a memory like that. Wiping my tears as I walk to my bike to start heading back to the beginning of the trail.
Life seems less intense. Less fragile.
I haven’t spoken to him since, and I’ve reclaimed the places I call home that had his name written all over them. I’ve shed my receipt of love to him and I’ve burned my insecurities.
I escaped prison.