You never know what you got ’til it’s gone, right?
Typically, that line takes on a wistful or maybe even sad context, insinuating some kind of loss, grief, or a general bummed-out feeling.
My perspective this last weekend was just the opposite.
The story begins with the semi-last-minute “oh by the way” text from my soon-to-be-ex (STBX), stating that he would be leaving in less than 24 hours for the weekend. That may sound bitter, but it’s not. To be raw-honest with myself, it may have triggered faint remnants of the Ghost of Relationship Dynamics Past, in which he would spring something on me at the last minute, forcing me to scramble to adjust and accommodate, but those remnants were as faint as remnants can be, if they even existed at all.
From my spirit-brother and soon-to-be-roommate’s apartment window, I saw my STBX’s vehicle pass by the following night (which was Friday).
I rejoiced – 48 hours of freedom!
I was also mildly curious, in a way that carried a tinge of excitement; just how would this feel? I looked forward to finding out.
I was not disappointed, gorgeous ones. Contact of any kind this last weekend was essentially nonexistent, save for a few texts yesterday (Sunday) afternoon about mundane, superficial topics, all-business.
Otherwise, I didn’t talk to him, and he didn’t talk to me. I lived this last weekend on my own autopilot.
Immediately, I felt lighter. I knew that after spending the evening with my spirit-brother as is customary these days, I would not have to trudge back to my apartment knowing I stood the likely chance of having to interact with him. No small talk. No mask. No having to play his games of vagueness and mystery.
There was a part of me that did indeed suspect that his weekend getaway was not entirely innocent (who are we kidding, anyway?), but this was merely a mildly curious amusement, nothing more.
Instead, I took advantage of my path, which was clear of him. My soon-to-be-roommate and I spent time at my apartment (with the kitties) that we normally wouldn’t get to spend, without feeling like we had to tiptoe around my STBX. We packed and prepped some more items for another storage unit run, without having to maneuver around him as he hovered in the way. We came and went as we pleased, without having to defend ourselves against his watchful eye and subtle manipulation. I spent a(n innocent) night at his place, and he spent a(n innocent) night at mine, without judgmental eyebrows raised, assumptions made, or condescending vibes projected.
My Inner Circle expressed joy and relief for me, too. They agreed with my realization that I felt lighter; they could see and feel it, too.
In pathologically narcissistic/psychopathic relationships, it can be hard to tell just how bad things are – how deeply depressed you might be; how chaotic, anxious, or overwhelmed you might feel; how pessimistically you might think; or how dark or sour or exhausted you may have become. You might not be consciously aware of the weight you’re shouldering, the responsibility you’ve taken on, the disrespect of your boundaries you’re dealing with, or the abuse you’re enduring. You may not realize the extent of the toll such a relationship with such a person has taken on you.
Often, it’s not until that weight is lifted, the darkness has dissipated, and you find yourself set free, even if only temporarily (such as in my situation, at least for now), that you begin to realize the full brunt you’ve been bearing. It’s a psychological and maybe even spiritual assault that often hides in plain view.
So, time to circle back around – sometimes you really don’t know what you got (or are going through or dealing with) until it’s gone (lifted). The sun begins to shine, when you hadn’t realized your sky was dark and stormy. You may find yourself sleeping better, thinking differently, mustering up more energy to do things and conquer tasks you may not have been able to handle before, because they’re no longer around to manipulate you, belittle you, hover or monitor you, control you, intimidate you, hassle you, criticize you, depress you, and so on.
Life does get better. It can take a while, but it does.
In this chapter of my story, however, the freedom was not permanent. He returned home yesterday afternoon, and I knew that once I was done with my social activities this weekend, I would have to return home at the end of the evening, and that he would be there when I did. And that he would be his typical self, forever unchanging.
Did that begin to weigh heavily on me once again, did that dark cloud return? It did, to a point, but not completely, dear ones. Because while I had to return to the same apartment shared with the same STBX who was the same person he’d always been, it was I who was changed, even if in a small and subtle way…
I had tasted freedom. I had experienced time without him. I now have an idea of what that feels like. And I have hope, even more now than I did before. I see even more plainly exactly what I’ve been dealing with, and it strengthens my resolve to keep making progress toward leaving that much more. And it gives me that much more to look forward to.
Gotta run and pack some more 😉