i remember mine clearly.
it was july, even.
my girlfriend held my hand as i sat in the attorney's office that hot summer afternoon in bethesda. a divorce attorney.
"i would advise you not to stay another night," faith said. more with sternness than warmth. her eyes were soft though. i hadn't even told her the worst parts yet.
in that moment i could feel instinct stirring. deep in my bones. i knew. she was right.
i had needed to hear her tell me this.
fear can be a friend, you know. it has a purpose. there are times when i think of fear as a mostly useless emotion. a hindrance. an obstacle to face, even laugh at.
this was not one of those times.
(one way i tell is to sense where the fear is coming from. if the fear is more or less harmless, it feels like an incessant, loud, insistent voice in my head, sometimes like a pit in my stomach. but if it arises from deep in my bones, then i listen. for bones bear the weight of things. bones know.)
i did not stay another night.
my girlfriend - and another girlfriend's calm and muscular husband - came with me.
we stopped at the bank first to open a safe account in my name only.
then we drove to my house.
i stood in the living room trembling and told him i was leaving him. my body was shaking.
my voice was clear.
i noticed this.
i marveled at this.
my friends - my lifelines - waited calmly in the dining room, keeping me in their line of sight.
he sat on the couch, stunned. because my friends were there i was safe. if i had been alone it would have gone differently, of course.
he stayed on the couch.
my friends and i packed my computer, and some of my clothes. i was shaking a lot. unsure what to bring, what to leave. i just wanted to go. now. not stay there for another minute.
they helped me.
as we drove away, and i sat in the passenger side of my girlfriend's big suburban, my phone began to ring. word had traveled fast through the beautiful grapevine of my friends.
they were calling.
"honey, did you leave him? are you guys out? are you okay? i'm so proud of you."
a wise woman recently told me that deep fear and deep courage feel very much the same in the body. we must remember this, and stay on the side of courage. because with courage at least we can get something done.
that first independence day was nearly nine years ago. i am still awed by the courage of my younger self, and grateful for her friends who jumped right into the line of fire,
to give her cover that day.
later that evening my dad called from oregon. his voice sounded like heaven. he listened and then he said, "laura, this is going to be the hardest thing you have ever gone through. there is no way around the pain. you just have to go through it, and get through it. and you will."
he was right.
and so can you.
oh, sweet beautiful soul, so can you.