Although I felt that I was in real danger, I figured I wasn't ready to leave an abusive relationship until I got all my ducks in a row. It was very difficult living the last few months quietly without tipping off any kind of alarms and it took a toll on my health, physically and emotionally. Until today I was unable to eat and was dropping weight so fast my family and close friends were worried I would end up in the hospital. I cried (and still do) at the drop of a hat and just recently I stopped looking over my shoulder with a feeling of dread and hopelessness. Ten years is a long time in today's modern world and I gave it my best shot. In return, I walked out with as many bags of clothing as I could fit in my bag, a few momentos I could quickly and unobstrucively tuck in my pockets, my Wonton, and my jewelry.
It's a funny thing, my relationship with jewelry. With the exception of pearls which are a personal symbol, I don't ever feel like I have to have it. My mother used to love to window shop in jewelry stores and knew all the sales personnel on a first name basis, and I was content just to tag along. On occasion, I would purchase something that struck my fancy; a gold cigar band ring that actually fit me without re-sizing, a pair of dainty pearl earrings with gold puffed heart diamond accents, and another ring that many years later, the style the style of which would be admired and copied everywhere, but I had it first and loved its simplicity. Other pieces I bought and later gave away when I lost interest in them or someone admired them. It didn't matter to me if they were precious metal and genuine stones; if I felt its time with me was done it was as if I had moved along and so they did too.
I have had a real passion for earrings since my ears were pierced when I was 5. A neighbor who had no little girls of his own asked my parents if he could take me and a chaperone (my godmother) to a jewelry store where he would be honored to buy my first pair of earrings and so we went. They were tiny gold fluted hoops and if I look hard enough, I'm pretty sure I still have them. Some jewelry is quite symbolic and I am a sentimental romantic soul and always will be, so those pieces stay with me.
But sometimes things change. I bought a pair of earrings from a friend who makes such lovely pieces that every single thing on her Etsy page looks like a piece of candy to my feasting eyes. It arrived after I left my husband and not having spoken with him since I left, I had no real idea what had become of any of my things and won't until I feel ready to return to retrieve them, but more than anything I'd been expecting in the mail, I wanted those lovely earrings, made with chandelier crystals, silk and Swarovski pearls.
I'd had my eye on them for some time but doubted the wisdom of a purchase especially in light of so many changes in my life and considered it my last little splurge and today, they appeared, with other mail, in a large unmarked box, just as cold and impersonal as the sender himself. I took the envelope to my room and opened it and sighed. They were even more lovely than depicted. I was happy but I burst into tears. They were no longer symbolic of my last treat before I flew the coop. They represented a new life and good things to come. Even though I still don't think the worst is over, I still can look forward to a brighter more joyful day.
It does, however bring me back to another piece which has meant a great deal to me for well over a decade. I think of my mother and sister's jewelry most of which may not have a great deal of monetarily value, but still know that they who loved jewelry far more than me, would urge me to sell much of it to start a new life and that I will, but this one special piece I purchased for myself and know they would discourage me from doing this.
When I started to model for a designer friend, he helped make a dream come true for me, and the first time I appeared in public, it actually made the local paper with a nice write-up. Not long after that, my mother wanted to go jewelry shopping again and dragged me along and something caught my eye. It was a diamond tennis bracelet and an absolutely decadent splurge and I nearly rejected the impulse to buy it but had a premonition that the man I would soon meet and marry would never buy me a piece of jewelry so I decided then and there to purchase it because I was worth those diamonds and so I did. It is the one thing I wear and never ever take off except to occasionally clean. I wouldn't even consider leaving it to be repaired but would go to a shop that had on-the-spot repairs so I wouldn't be parted from it for long, so attached was I to it.
Sure enough I did meet that man and true to the premonition, he didn't buy me one diamond. I pretended that it never bothered me, even though he, and later, we could certainly afford it but it did. It had become very symbolic of what I meant to him, at least in my eyes, and in time, also proved true. I knew that whatever I asked him for, I was guaranteed not to get for whatever reasons I no longer wish to analyze because I look to the future and not to the past. I never look back.
I have plans next year to travel with Spooky Oats and it's going to be a great adventure. We've been talking about it for a long time now and unless the Universe has something else planned, it's a done deal. All we need is for him to earn the money for his part and to cross an ocean and we'll go anywhere within driving distance our hearts desire. Or not. Maybe we'll just do a lot of hanging out, but something has changed and that's my ability to pay for my share of the road trip so I've been giving it a lot of thought and even a few tears.
One day I looked at the diamonds glittering on my left wrist and realized that the symbolism of the bracelet had changed. It wasn't about me being worth the diamonds anymore. It was about me being worth more than diamonds. Being worth more than a trophy wife. Being worth more than a bird slowly dying in a gold and lonely gilded cage and it wasn't even a decision, really.
Oh no, I wouldn't sell one diamond to pay for legal funds to get rid of a man who never saw fit to buy me one. I'll figure out some other way to pay off my attorney, but I could sell it to fund an adventure with a true friend and confidant, for myself as a reward, and also for him who's doing everything he can to make it happen too. This wealth is on my wrist; his wealth is in things that are of more lasting value and that's how he'll earn his way.
Who knows what will happen. Anything can happen in a year. I have a lot of healing and regrouping to do, and lots of goals. Some are small like a tiny pair of indulgent earrings, and some are huge like a diamond tennis bracelet, but I will accomplish each with with as much grace as I can muster,and failing that, humor.
When (fingers crossed) Spooky and I do make that trip, my wrist will be bare, but I'll have exchanged what was on it for freedom and a new life and that's the kind of symbolism I like the best.
I'd forgotten that my value is worth far far more than I ever gave myself credit for, and I will never forget that again.