It's snowing here. Seriously.
I rolled out of bed this morning and found a light dusting of snow covering the ground. The news is calling it Christmas in May in the mountains of Arizona. It's ironic because tomorrow, I leave for a little Palm Springs getaway with one of my dearest friends in the world. I'm going from snow to 105 degree weather. The irony is that this contrast pales in comparison to the contrast I'm remembering from three years ago as I get ready to hit the road tomorrow.
In 2015, my college friend, Lorraine, asked if I would join her in Palm Springs for a quick two-day respite in her time share. I wasn't rolling in it by any means so she made sure to let me know the costs would be minimal on my end. I was beyond excited to get time with her and spend it in one of my favorite places on the planet. Scott and I were separated and I was in the relationship (with R) I've written about here on the blog. First, I made sure that Scott was available to take care of the kids on his own and not surprisingly, his response to me was this: "Of course, I am. I'm so glad you get to spend time with Lor."
The response I received from R was similar but not genuine. "Have fun, baby. Be safe driving. Love you, TNF. "
The lovey text messages started coming in as I made my way across the state of California. I felt relieved that he was being supportive of this quick trip because I'd already started to realize that when I did something for myself—whether it was taking time with a friend or booking a massage my kids bought for me—I would eventually hear negative comments. I instinctively knew I needed to do something to counterbalance the 48 hour trip so I planned to stop in and meet with several stores on my way out of Palm Springs that might be interested in the Mod Life furniture brand—R's line of furniture. He initially seemed happy about that.
While my trip started out with promise that I would be able to relax a little, it took a turn early into the first day. At some point, I received a text from him shaming me for taking time with my friend. His platform was built on the fact that he had a meeting in Pennsylvania with a textile company—something he was doing to help launch his furniture designs that I was helping to fund and promote, as well. In his mind, I was only "stopping in furniture stores to make the trip seem like an OK thing to do."
My bloodpressure skyrocketed. My attention veered from enjoying time with my friend to managing his emotional state. I was constantly fielding texts and trying to explain that it was just a 48-hour trip and I would get right back to helping build Mod Life.
Lorraine looked at me with concern in her eyes and finally said, "Kiers, this is not OK. You have the right to enjoy this trip with me."
I tried so hard to relax but it was impossible. The trip home, after I stopped in two furniture stores in Palm Springs, started with a two-hour shaming phone call. How could I be so selfish as to do what I did and act like it was ok because I turned part of it into a work trip?
I cried. I pushed back. I tried to see it from his side. In order to make the chaos stop, I eventually caved and admitted I was selfish to do what I had done. I didn't realize at the time that I was enduring severe emotional abuse, I just wanted it all to stop.
As I pen this post, what strikes me the most is that even when we were apart, Scott wanted the best for me. He knew I had been working my tail off and really needed a break with my dear friend. He was genuinely happy I had the opportunity to spend time with her. Authentic. Genuine. Real love.
This year, Scott feels the same way he did back then and I no longer have to worry that a trip or an event will be sabotaged with abusive tactics. I don't have a pit in my stomach. I am filled with excitement and gratitude for Scott and my friend, Lorraine.
I'm thrilled that the flashbacks of abuse are lessening. While I'm acknowledging them and fully embracing the stark differences between now and then, the visceral memories that can sometimes take my breath away are getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.
The road to full healing—and to Palm Springs—is wide open and I've never been more grateful.