On October 31 last year, I left my husband, the area I’d lived in for over 30 years, and headed for a new life in another state. This was the culmination of 10 years of a very unhealthy and frequently verbally and emotionally abusive marriage. It is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and that’s saying something since my first husband died while we still had kids in school.

I haven’t kept good track, but I think that before this final break, I had left and gone back four times. I know people wonder why you’d leave, make a getaway, and then go back. It’s confusing even for me to understand. Mostly, church tells women in my position to be respectful, submissive, and pray for him more. There is love. My marriage wasn’t awful all the time. HE wasn’t awful all the time. It’s familiar and I’m a person who thrives on routine and the familiar. I am super nonconfrontational by nature. I have physical disabilities and I’m not particularly adventurous. And I had people in that area whom I loved.

My very close friend was very ill and she and I both knew that after I left, we wouldn’t see one another again this side of Heaven. She was ill and fragile, and it is hard for me to travel. We were right. She died about six weeks after I left. And it still breaks my heart.

And yet with all the hard about leaving… there was a dream of living a life in which I didn’t have to walk on eggshells, being afraid to say the wrong thing, not doing a given task just so. Freedom to explore hobbies and to daydream, to work on my general health, to talk to friends and family freely.

Reach Out Speak Out helped a lot. With practical matters. With encouragement. So did a few friends. I got on a plane and moved 1400 miles away. With the clothes on my back and what I could fit in a carry-on and one checked bag. I broke free.

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