I Left My Abusive Husband In The Middle Of The Colorado Wilderness — And Hitchhiked To Freedom

Photo: encierro / Shutterstock
I Left My Abusive Husband In The Middle Of The Colorado Wilderness — And Hitchhiked To Freedom
Heartbreak

He was screaming at me, throwing things, breaking things as we set up camp that night. 

I’d hiked too slow, walked too fast, not followed the map enough, led without following. The accusations went on and on.

I tried to calm the mood. Reached into my pack to pull out a surprise I’d been keeping — two little hand warmers.

Maybe this small comfort would be enough to show my love. I opened the plastic package, exposed them to air. Waited for the heat to fill my palm. Then placed them gently in the bottom of his sleeping bag.

It did no good. I woke to more screaming.

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I’d slept without kissing him. I hadn’t apologized right. I had left us without water. He was cold and it was my fault. He was angry and it was my fault. He was uncomfortable and it was my fault. He raged.

I listened gently. Quietly, quickly packed my bag. Hoped my calm readiness would show my loyalty, my love, my willingness to be his battle buddy.

It didn’t matter.

When everything you do is someone else’s excuse to treat you poorly, nothing you do will make them treat you well.

He raged and raged.

I stood meekly. Apologetically. Gently. Patiently. Listening to it. Taking it.

Then he turned to me, lifted a single finger at my face as spit with disdain: “As far as I’m concerned, you can f*ck off without me.”

And that was it.

The permission I needed.

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I snapped my pack across my shoulders, turned my back to him and started walking.

Where? I didn’t know. We were days deep in the Colorado wilderness. I had no map. No cell service.

But as I placed one foot in front of the other, him screaming at me, him calling me a b*tch and a whore. Telling me I’m no good. I’m the worst. I deserve nothing in life.

I started to whisper to me:

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Don’t go back.

Do not go back, Brooke.

Then louder, my voice overcoming his:

DO NOT GO BACK. YOU ARE DONE BEING TREATED LIKE THIS.

As his booming waned behind me, a raven cawed, stared at me from the side of the road. As if to announce the space where I left that voice behind. That life behind. That bullsh*t behind.

So that’s how I ended up unshowered and weeping, hitchhiking somewhere on Highway 24.

And it’s one of the bravest and best things I’ve ever done for me.

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Brooke Lark is a recovering overacheiver turned minimalist chef & healthy lifestyle simplist. Purveyor of sex food. Photographer, cookbook writer, mama, earthling. Find her @brookelark on Instagram.

This article was originally published at Instagram. Reprinted with permission from the author.