I left my life with an abuser almost three years ago, and the real roller coaster ride revealed itself. On the uphill climbs, I feel simultaneously excited and worried about reaching the top. Sitting on the peak, before the thrilling plummet, I feel on top of my game, as if nothing can break me. The ride down leaves me breathless, heart pounding, and then, as everyone whose ridden a roller coaster knows, there is a period of hairpin turns and loops; during this part of the ride I feel out of control and uncomfortable.
I remind myself that I am on a “safe ride” and that my seat won’t fly off the tracks, I won’t fall to my death. Always, always , after the uncontrollable turns and loops, I’ve either found myself on a second slow climb to the top (greater opportunities) or pulling safely into the loading zone (exiting that darn ride to freely choose another).
The difference between life after abuse and living in abuse is that now I am safe. The roller coaster, by itself, does not yell, “This is never going to work! You’re so stupid for choosing this ride!” on the way to the top.
On the downhill drive, the roller coaster does not scream, “You fucking idiot! I told you this would happen!” And the roller coaster doesn’t belittle me during the uncontrolled spins and loops with “See what you’ve done?! You’ve made it worse! You’re never, ever going to get this right! I’m so stupid for staying with you!”
No, the roller coaster of life does not judge or berate. It was the idiot I once sat beside that did that.
I never felt safe riding with my husband beside me. He could have unfastened my lap belt and pushed me over the side. He could have punched me in the temple at any moment. But that idiot is GONE. Now it is me and the coaster.
No matter how wild the ride, I will eventually climb a higher hill or slide breathlessly into the loading zone. I cannot lose my life or my sanity because I know that always, always, I will eventually unload in the safe zone, walk shakily to the exit steps. Half way down those steps I will begin thinking…”Whew! How exciting! Let’s do it again!” and the story of my latest adventure will become a piece of who I am. Wild, free, courageous, and willing to ride the coaster again.
After leaving abuse, the roller coaster of life does not flatten out. It does not make everything I wanted easy to do. The roller coaster remains the same. But now I am able to redesign the ride. I now get to grow, to learn, to fail and to achieve. There is no one in the seat beside me hurting me worse than the roller coaster ever could. I control my thoughts and feelings on the way up, the way down, and during the once uncontrollable spins.
Before leaving him, I thought I had the power to smooth out the hills and valleys, but now I know that no one can do that to a roller coaster any more than they can flatten life itself. I used to think that “normal” was “peace”, but now I know that “normal” is riding the crazy coaster with joy! I love this ride, this story, this life of mine. No one gets to tell me otherwise.