The day I almost broke up with my marriage and found myself in a foreign country with a small child

The day I almost broke up with my marriage and found myself in a foreign country with a small child

“You have your suitcase ready,” my psychologist asked me at our last session before I left my husband and left. In the last few weeks we have discussed everything: What should I take with me, what should I never forget, what should I watch out for so that my husband does not understand where we are and how difficult and different the next months will be with my son in our new secret home.

I put passports, certificates, visas and other important documents in a bag and gave them to a trusted friend to keep for us until the time came for us to leave for good. I loved my country, I loved my life in Greece but I could no longer bear to live in an abusive marriage with a man who abused both me and our child. We had to go as far as possible, no matter how many challenges we faced.

In the bag with the documents I also put all the money I had collected and my jewelry. In a big suitcase I put some clothes and underwear for me and my son, a few medicines and some minimal care products for the first days such as a shampoo, a shower gel and a deodorant.

As the big day was approaching when we would leave for good and I wandered forever in the living room of my house caressing the furniture and even touching the decorations. I said goodbye to as many things as I could not get, things that if I took would ruin my plan.

In the sessions with my psychologist we had examined each scenario. What if I told him I just wanted to leave? What if I told him that a long time ago I had found a very good online job that would help me stand on my own two feet and support our child? The anger of one towards the other reaped as the years passed and the quarrels became worse and worse.

He would not let me go and I knew it. The statistics said it, my friends said it, my psychologist said it, even my lawyer said it every time I asked if I was doing the right thing when I left. “80% of the women I have taken on have returned to their husbands at least once, if not more, before they finally make the decision to leave,” my lawyer told me. A friend of mine told me that he had read somewhere that the average was 7 times. I could not bear to do it 7 times, not even 2. If I was going to leave it had to be forever.

“You will do what your soul tells you because you know best,” my psychologist told me when I asked her if I was overreacting to the worst-case scenario. Another friend of mine showed me some photos of me from the ones I had sent him after the last fight with my husband. I did not need anything more. I started raising money in an account that I had secretly opened from him and I also secretly started buying clothes and various things to set up a new home somewhere far away. A few clothes, a few towels, a couple of sheets. That’s all. I got plane tickets (the fact that my parents literally do not even live in a neighboring country of Greece saved me whenever I always had a paper signed by my husband that allowed me to take the child with me every time I went to visit them. Of course never it did not occur to him that I could use this paper for another reason). I also found a small house and cheap, but beautiful and I closed it in one day. The day I was leaving was the day my leave from my new job started, that is, three weeks before Christmas.

This is how the countdown started. Every day I did my best and pretended that nothing had changed because I did not want my husband to understand anything until the day I left. I got down from the attic for Christmas, I decorated the whole house like every year and nothing foretold my upcoming departure with the child.

I do not remember the time between the moment we left and the moment we landed. Every 20 seconds I turned my head left and right, afraid of being thrown from somewhere and dragged by my hair home. It was as if everything was done mechanically. It’s as if I wasn’t even there. I was free for the first time with my child in a foreign country without knowing the language.

I felt like my soul was in place when we moved into our new apartment. It was not too small a living room with a kitchenette, a very small bedroom and a tiny bathroom, but it was so warm and friendly that it immediately made me relax. The fridge and freezer were fully stocked as if the owner knew who we were and why we were coming, the living room was decorated with the most beautiful Christmas decorations and also in a corner, on a piece of furniture under the TV there were many table and children’s tales.

In the first days my son did not ask me anything. It was as if we were on vacation, but after the first two weeks the questions started, which fortunately did not last long. Inside me, I believe that it was enough for the child to see his mother calm, happy and quiet in our house. The child may have been small but he was not stupid. He saw the wood I ate every day and the blood running down my face. Many times I had the good fortune to take it with me to the hospital where I had gone for stitches or to have my arm or leg put in a cast. Seeing me well for the first time and smiling was also good. He may have missed his father but he never expressed it. He had not eaten even less wood than him.

Nobody knew where I had gone, not even my parents. My lawyer had warned me not to say anything to anyone and the reason was that in the first week most women succumb to social and family pressure to return to their husbands.

Christmas came with joy and love. This year we would not have broken plates, broken arms, legs and ribs. This year I will not sleep curled up on the floor next to my child’s bed. I had promised him while he was sleeping that I would never leave him and that next Christmas they would find us somewhere alone, but happy. So it happened.

Do you know what was the only thing I got out of my house? The star from the top of the tree and I put this at the top of our tree to remember the family and friends we left behind leaving. Over time we made new friends and a new beginning. Nobody knows where we are and does not need to know. We are safe and that means everything to me.



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