Twenty years ago today I packed up all the stuff I couldn't live without, made countless trips to a storage locker to stow it, stored my motorcycle in a friend's garage, put the necessities in my car, then drove away from that place forever.
Much later friends or family would ask why I didn't call for help, why I did it all myself. It's not that I didn't want help, or wanted to shut anyone out - I just didn't know when exactly I'd be able to do it, nor could I risk having my secret plans exposed.
Leaving an abusive relationship isn't just difficult, it feels impossible, especially if the abuser has successfully isolated you from the very people who would be able to help. You simply have nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
One day I realized I would have to find a way, even though I had no clue how I would make it happen. I put my faith in myself that I would figure it out. Maybe just realizing that I had to go made everything fall into place.
About a month after my epiphany, things did fall into place and I had an entire day at home alone to make it happen. And I did.
But I didn't really do all it myself. I had one friend who knew what was going on, who had opened her heart and home to me and told me that whenever I was ready, she would be there. Without her, I don't know where I would have gone or if I'd have been able to stay and be safe.
As I drove away from that place I called her and said, "I'm coming - is it OK?" and she enthusiastically said "YES." She took such good care of me, cooked me dinner, took me out on the town, and let me stay with her until I found my own place (which took almost three weeks!).
So, today, twenty years later, I want to say thank you again, Guardian Angel. I'll always love you. Happy Valentine's Day.