“You won’t take any more solo trips now that you’ve got me.” That is what a man said to me once, as if the solo trips were a punishment and he was my refuge. He believed he was right, he believed that I was some fragile woman who was lesser than he was. Because I budget my money tightly to follow my passion, he thought I was ridiculous for buying discounted clothing. Because I took risks, he thought I had a death wish. Because he thought I loved him, he thought I wouldn’t leave…but I did. He believed he was smarter, better, and superior to the commoners around him, including me. I was a broken, damaged, abused woman who had started a new life, but somehow he still painted me as less human. It was not the criticism, confusion, or manipulation that hurt me; it was the fact I had allowed myself to let someone else define who I am.
The day I left, I felt him shake in my arms as he realized what he had lost. It wasn’t that he only saw a portion of my worth, but that he underestimated just how valuable a good person in your life can be. The day I left, I saw him cry as I sat stoic. Five years ago, as I sat on the bathroom floor cleaning up my blood from yet another attack, I promised myself I would never again allow any man or woman to ever devalue me. The day I left, I saw a man who loved me and never laid his hands on me, but still made me out to be inferior in almost every way. On that cold, rainy day, I knew I found the strength I had been working on for so long. And on that cold, rainy day I left, I planned my next solo trip, with even more gratitude.