The Traumatic Way I Learned Love Doesn't Mean Showing Up For Someone No Matter What

Photo: Aleksey Boyko / Shutterstock
The Traumatic Way I Learned Love Doesn't Mean Showing Up For Someone No Matter What

Even after I hitchhiked out and away from my husband who had emotionally abused and berated me over and over in the middle of a Colorado camping trip, I went back.

That’s the thing about these things.

When you believe “love” is “showing up for someone no matter what” you keep thinking it’s you who has to give more, do more, bend more.

Surely, it was just another misunderstanding, right?

We found each other on Main Street in Leadville, a crappy old miners town in Colorado. And I was relieved. Relieved to see him.

Yes, thank god.

NOW we could fix it.

NOW we could come together and really try.

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Three hours later, he was screaming at me to get out of our motel room. He took my backpack and tossed me into the parking lot. I landed on the ragged heap of my belongings, packed to help me survive the beating sun, the sanded wind, the cold nights, the aching blisters.

But not this. There was nothing in my backpack for this moment.

I was being tossed onto asphalt by the man who was supposed to love me. The partner who’d promised to protect me.

I sat stunned, tear-stained cheeks. Suddenly, a stringy housekeeper comes running full-speed toward me. She stands over me, hovering, shaking and lifts her finger in the air and screams through the screen at him.

“Hey! You! Don’t you DARE. Don’t you DARE treat a woman that way.”

I sniffle and apologize for him, “It’s okay. He’s a really good person, he just has PTSD.”

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She wipes her hair back with harrumph. “Well, so do I and I don’t treat people like that.”

It occurs to me, this is a good point.

She tells me to take care of myself.

I take a second, shake off the bizarre reality of this moment:

Me on top of a filthy backpack.

Me alone in the middle of a desolate parking lot.

Me sitting there and sniffling, wondering what to do next.

Two thoughts occur simultaneously to me:

1. That housekeeper is a hero. I can’t even begin to imagine the life that makes her brave enough to run like that toward a grown ass man.

2. I am so much classier than this.

And still, you guys. I went back to him.

Once more. Again.

Because love is showing up for someone, no matter what.

Or at least, it was.

Until I learned true love is showing up like that for me.

Some day soon, I’ll tell you how I got to go back to that motel. And do it again.

Reclaim it.

And relearn what real love really is.

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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.