On Walking Away.

August 4th.

When people applaud you for walking away,

When they ask with conscientious interest,

“How do you manage with these children? How do you do it? How do you do all of it?”

You smile.

You do not tell them that you sometimes second guess yourself, that you occasionally bore your children with stories of your marital servitude, that your children can recount these stories themselves.

When people applaud you for walking away,

You do not tell them there are nights your pillowcases are drenched with tears,

That the walls of the peach colored room reverberates in your ears while you toss and turn clinging to the sheets.

You do not tell them that sometimes your chest hurts so much that you pray to God that She take your life — death, your only friend.

When people applaud you for walking away,

You do not say that there are people who don’t.

You do not say that there are people who still whisper at the back of the pews at church.

“Where is her husband? What happened to her husband?”

You do not say that your relationships, your career, your dreams, your aspirations have all been shaped by the act, the act of walking away.

You do not say that when your friends listen with empathy at your misfortune, they secretly wish you had stayed, you had prayed.

When people applaud you for walking away,

You do not recount how many Novenas you held so that the devil leave your husband.

You do not say that your children held those Novenas too, their little feet grazing the floor, their eyes laden with sleep, their yawns deep, their mumbling, a cry of utter disbelief at being woken at midnight to pray for their father, your hero.

When people applaud you for walking away,

You do not say that you had no choice, because you did.

You could have borne the beatings. It was the lashings of the children you could not bear.

When people applaud you for walking away,

You say that you are teaching your daughters not to walk away; that you are hoping they become something the world approves of — beautiful educated fools.

And yet, there are days when it all makes sense. This act, the act of walking away. In those days, the sky is blue, the grass green, everything is as it should be. In those days, there is clarity. Your dreams come alive; your laughter, an open invitation to happiness, the kind that embraces the eyes. On those days, you matter. The world sees you for who you really are. Sometimes, they don’t but you couldn’t care less. You are woman. You are strong. You are free.

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