Heartbreak

I Was Tossed Onto The Asphalt By The Man Who Was Supposed To Love Me

Photo: Hemera Technologies | Canva
Traumatized woman, crying in a ball

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, an old mining town in Colorado. And I was relieved. Relieved to see him. Yes, thank god. Now we could fix us. Now we could come together and try. 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.

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But not this. There was nothing in my backpack for this moment. I was tossed onto the 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.

   

   

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“Hey! You! Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare treat a woman that way,” she says. I sniffle and apologize for him. “It’s okay. He’s a good person; he just has PTSD.” She wipes her hair back with a harrumph. “Well, so do I, and I don’t treat people like that.” It occurs to me that this is a good point. She tells me to take care of myself. I take a second, and 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.

   

   

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Two thoughts occur simultaneously to me: One is that the 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 man, and two, I am so much classier than this. And still: I went back to him. Once more. Again. Because love is showing up for someone, no matter what — right? 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 back to that motel, reclaimed it, and relearned what real love is.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

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Brooke Lark is a photographer, cookbook writer, and founder of LarkXCo Connection Studio —a creative studio in Salt Lake City dedicated to creating content, conversations, and experiences that shift perspective, ignite possibility, and bring real humans together in real ways.