Maggie and I haven’t spoken since the night we met. There’s nothing left to say. I wish her the best, as I always have. I wish her a life of hope and happiness, love and fulfillment—with whomever she chooses for a partner. I hope she learns whatever she’s here to learn.
I hope I do, too.
I still don’t know why she was put in my path. Perhaps I was being shown something about how far I’d come. I should be proud of myself. Maggie wasn’t the ghost of me, she was like a photo negative—we had the same basic nicks and cuts but were also total opposites.
Or perhaps she was sent as a warning, a way of showing me something about women and our patterns. Despite our best intentions, we so often fall back into the same kinds of behaviors, the same kind of relationships—relationships that seem impossible to get out of.
Why? Why do we choose certain kinds of pain over others? Is it because the pain of leaving is uncertain, and the pain of staying is a known variable? Or do we believe in our own endurance, believe it is holy, that it will make us better people. That martyrdom pleases God.
I like to think that for me, leaving Leo was relatively painless but that isn’t altogether true. While I never regretted leaving him, never missed him once I’d gone—I have regretted all the time I spent not-leaving. I wonder where I might be now, what I might have accomplished if I’d started writing sooner, finished school sooner, met someone else.
I guess in a way that’s why I’m writing about it now. Because if I can help someone else—if I can even help one woman somewhere gather the strength to leave a toxic relationship—then those years are redeemed. It’s not a suffering I would willingly endure, but I’d like for it to mean something.
But maybe I need to let go of that, too. Maybe there’s a Grand Design and maybe there isn’t; the lesson might be for me alone. I might not see it for years. I might see it from different angles over the course of a lifetime. I might never see it.
This is me, letting go, officially, of everything.
All of the things I’ve left out about Leo could fill a book. But it’s not a book I’m interested in reading or writing. I’m free now. Free to be a different person than I was at twenty-six. Free of the “should haves” and “wish I could haves” that follow me everywhere I go, free to be the kind of person I admire. Not a victim, not a loser or a coward, but a woman who was given the strength to save herself. A brave woman. A wise woman. A woman at peace.
I just have to keep telling myself: I’m free.