“The Ten Minute Goodbye”- a writing exercise


A mere half hour ago, I stood shoulder to shoulder with the father- who three years ago raped me twice, hit me, tossed me like fresh salad, financially exploited and stalked me, hacked into my email during a restraining order (and after) and bullied me into a submissive shock.

The process used to be mothers win.  Times have changed.  Even abusers have rights, and with enough money, they can buy yours.

We are in the crowded lunchroom at the morning parent exchange.  It is my parent time… and he won’t leave.  He lingers like a bad dream under the skin in a room of pitch blackness.

My heart races uncontrollably as I wrap my arms around my child… and he won’t leave.  My mind is shifting to grey.  I can feel it rising in my chest as quickly as mercury in hot water.

Blah, blah, the words roll continuously from his lips… and he won’t leave.

Adrenalin is coursing through me, enough to shoot me to the moon and back.   But I’m no astronaut with the nausea washing over my tongue.  There is no warmth in space to thaw the freezing I feel.

My child is caught in the middle.  She looks confused and overwhelmed.   Although nothing is said, she senses my fear.  My sweater itches with cold sweat.

Nearly ten minutes later… he leaves… And I am shaking from the inside out.  God, I am shaking.

I don’t protect him anymore.  He is not my friend, we are not buddies, and it is my choice whether to forgive.  The court says we limit our exchanges to hello/ goodbye.  A ten minute goodbye less than six inches from me is indescribable Hell.

We have six parent exchanges a week.  Six opportunities to vomit and fall apart, and scramble to pull myself together.  He will not agree to change anything.   His foot blocks the door to peace for me and my child.

Presently, I’m fighting tooth and nail to not shut down.  I’m praying for strength to endure two more parent exchanges today.  It is a good time to write.

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