My partner was a very volatile man — in Quebec, we call that passion — who loved his beer a little too much, liked to control everything, was stubborn as hell and also had a raging streak of jealousy. For 10 years, he wore me down with emotional abuse and financial control until I didn't know who I was any more.
But by God, I loved him. I craved his affection more than anything. As much as he could be a monster, he also had moments of extreme kindness and gentleness, acts of showing how much he cared, and tender minutes where my world was right. Psychologists might say I suffered from Battered Woman's Syndrome.
Eventually, though, his behavior got the better of me. I had a new child and knew, deep down, this relationship wasn't good for my girl. I had an older child, too. She'd told me long ago how unhappy she was. I left.
I ached. I missed what my partner and I used to have. I missed being loved. I missed having someone in my life. I missed everything that used to be.
My ex-partner's world fell apart. He was shocked and stunned, left with an empty home and a dog. He waffled between anger and deep sadness, and he tried to cope. He yelled a lot. He drank a lot. He cried a lot.
I was never bitter or angry or resentful of what my partner did to me. Why should I be? I had as much blame to shoulder for staying as he did for acting badly. I chose to let him abuse me. I can't finger-point at all — it takes two to tango.
I've come to realize that I never fell out of love with my partner. I've also come to realize that loving someone and living with them are two separate things. A couple doesn't have to live together to be together. Love doesn't care who lives where — and that sometimes, being together too much creates situations that are unbearable.
My partner has come to realize he's treated me very badly. My leaving was a wake-up call. By no means has the great miracle of my disappearance changed him forever, but he has eliminated many of his bad behaviors. He's working on it.
We manage quite well as two independent people. We're happy, each in our own world. We're each still struggling a little with the emotional aspects of being alone — we talk every day on the phone for companionship. Sometimes we end up together for an afternoon or a night now and then. It's lonely to be alone.
But we've grown and we've matured. We've learned from our past, and we respect what each other has learned. We've changed for the better, and we're still changing.