Rocking gently on the cold bathroom floor, I hugged my legs tightly, straining to hold myself small and tight, as if clasping my arms could prevent the explosion (or implosion, since I was the only one in danger) within from reaching the surface. In the small, darkened room, leaning against the locked door, I continued to hold onto myself until I finally heard him walk past, and then heard the door to the mudroom open and shut, and then the door to the garage open and shut, and then the garage door open and then shut, indicating that my husband had finally left the house. Had finally left me. At least until he inevitably returned later, in a good mood, as if he had not just made me wish I had never met him.
Leave, leave, leave, leave, leave, I screamed to myself in yet another desperate attempt at not losing self-control. Please, please, please, please, please, I added instinctively as if my niceties would help me now to get what I wanted from him. As if any of my goodness had had an impact on him. As if my pleas for help had ever been heard by anyone, divine or otherwise.
As I continued to rock myself in the dark bathroom, as isolated as I had ever been in the twenty years of my marriage, I felt a curious sensation of victory. After all, he had left and I had stayed. Up until now, it was always the opposite: I was always running to my car in a desperate bid to escape the house, escape his insults, escape his accusations, escape him. But now, finally, I had held my ground (albeit the cold tiles of the bathroom floor), but I had not caved in—running away, conceding the fight, conceding that I was weaker, conceding that he had won, yet again. I had not groveled my way out of the house, I had not enabled him to continue spewing insults, I had spurned the attack.
Not that I wouldn’t still have to endure countless verbal assaults from him before we would finally divorce, but I had ultimately swerved past his control, beyond his reach, away from the sway his words and commands usually had over me.
In spite of my “victory,” I walked resignedly out of my bathroom tomb and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for our daughters, as usual. It was only 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning. The beginning of another wearying weekend.