I pushed my foot on the gas and watched the speedometer needle rise. Ordinarily, one or both of my children, my husband, or all three of them would have been with me. But this time I was alone in the car. I wanted to drive fast and just keep on driving. Life was stressful. Life was hard. Life did not feel good. I wanted to escape, so I fled.
My commitment to my husband caged me. I had been married seven years, and I was stuck. To keep my vows before God, I had to stay loyal to this relationship. My promise confined me in a permanent trap.
My thumbs tapped the steering wheel as my thoughts paced like a wild animal, back and forth, back and forth. Where could I go? What could I do? Panic gripped me. I didn't want to go back.
As the old Hank Williams song laments, I was so lonesome I could cry. My husband was neither an abuser nor an addict. He just had his head down trying to make us a living, so he put all his time and energy into his work. For two years he'd left home in the dark before the children and I were awake. For those same two years, he had returned home after the children were in bed, eaten a warmed-up dinner, and fallen asleep in front of the TV. Night after night, I'd watched him nod off and listened to him snore for a while, before I tapped him and encouraged him to go to bed. Night after night, I'd sat up longing for love. Because he was too tired to hold up his head, Loyd had left a void in my heart. That emptiness had filled with darkness, and now my tightfisted heart screamed, "What about me?"
The idea came to me like a pure beam of light: Susie.* She's single. She lives alone. I can stay with her until I figure things out.
At that moment, my focus narrowed. I made up my mind. I chose to follow my clenched heart and leave my husband. I started to cry.
I cried all the way to Susie's house. The tears poured out of a well of lost hope, and they just kept coming. We'd been talking, so Susie wasn't surprised when she found me outside her door unable to speak, eyes red and puffy, face swollen.
"Oh, Sherry." She hugged me. Her embrace was long and warm, but I didn't hug her back. I just stood inside her arms, my arms at my sides. "Come in. Come in." She moved me through her door. "Do you want to sit?" She waved a hand toward her couch.
I shook my head—no.
"Do you want some tea?"
Again I moved my head from side to side.
"Do you want to rest?"
This time I nodded.
"Well, come on, then." She steered me toward her guest room.
I crossed the threshold and turned to say, "Thank you," but the words caught in my throat. My lips mouthed the message.