Stepping Out of the Dance


Over the past few years people have invited me to different support groups and events to speak. When the organizers want me to start with my story this is something I never leave out. It’s actually a much better story to hear than to read but here you go. It’s a story I tell almost every time I’m asked to speak and one I ALWAYS tell when speaking to women’s groups.

When my ex and I first separated, he would take the kids for “visitation” and go to his grandmother’s and call me up. Although he was supposed to be visiting with the children, he would call me almost the minute he got them back to his grandmother’s house.

He would tell me everything that was wrong with me and how horrible a wife and mother I was…how he abused me and cheated on me because it was my fault, I was so wretched. If I tried to argue or hangup he would tell me that if I did, I would never see the kids again.

I would listen to his tirades and endless castigations against me (complete with every name in the book, including ones I haven’t heard since leaving him). I would cry and beg him to stop. I would be crying and crying until I couldn’t cry any more. Whenever I would say I had to go he would threaten to keep the kids.

This went on twice a week, every week. I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t sleeping, where my hands were shaking all the time…where I would dread every visitation day.

Finally I started to think about sharing this with my support group. They had told me was that I was as sick as my secrets and these sick dances of ours were something I had kept secret for years. I couldn’t tell anyone but now, if I wanted to get well, I had to let it out. I told them, crying and trembling, the story. I begged them for help. They listened empathically and then no one spoke for a long time. Oh what did I do? Did I make them all think I’m a horrible human being? a terrible mother? a wretched wife? What did I do?

Finally one woman spoke up, “Tell him to keep them.”

Others nodded in agreement and murmured among themselves.

My eyes flew open.

I could not believe what I was hearing. I was floored…

Tell him…WHAT? He would keep them. They didn’t know him like I did. I would never see them again. They assured me that would not happen. I didn’t believe it.

I had been led around by the nose by him for years. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I endured a few more weeks of agonizing phone calls.

On one occasion I was crying so hard that I would not be able to compose myself for the rest of the day…I would be drained with a quivering voice…I would not be able to hold it together. I thought, truly, that I was going insane.

One day he called and started in on me. I couldn’t take it any more. I told him so. He said, “You hang up this phone and you’ll never see those kids again.” and I said, “Fine keep them.”

and he sputtered, “Oh sure, I lose no matter what…” I have no idea what else he was going to say. I just hung up the phone.

The kids came home.

We went on with our lives.

The phone calls were over.

I learned that day how to step out of the dance. I learned that he was full of crap and I learned to stop being manipulated by him.

We had done things the same way for years.
He would accuse, I would defend.
He would threaten, I would capitulate.
He would hold things over my head. I would apologize.

I broke out of the dance that day. I said no more. I said, I have had enough.

No, things were not perfect after that but it was a new beginning and it would never be as bad as it had been again.

I always say that on that day it wasn’t that the doors of heaven opened and let me in, but the doors of hell opened and let me out.

Step out of the dance.

Step out of hell.

You can do it!

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One Response to Stepping Out of the Dance

  1. kimiryokan says:

    Very well said Susan!!
    Indeed – the dance is there, but we can always step out.
    Thank you for the inspiring reading!

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