“Remember That” – The Stories Behind the Song

‘REMEMBER THAT’ LYRICS:

(Sung by Jessica Simpson, Written by Victoria Banks & Rachel Proctor)

Remember how he told you you were stupid

How he couldn’t even look at you anymore

Remember how he told you you were crazy

How he got out of the car and slammed the door

He said, ‘You can’t do anything right. Why you gotta make me so mad?

Just get out of my sight’ – Remember that

When it’s 3 am and he’s at your door and he wants you back and he’s begging for forgiveness  -Remember that

When your phone keeps ringing all night long and that same old weakness gets so strong that you’re helpless – Remember that

Remember how he pushed you in the hallway

Just enough to hurt a little bit

Remember the whiskey in his whispers

And the lies that fell so easy from his lips

He said he’ll never do it again, but he can’t take it back

The proof is on your skin – Remember that

When it’s 3 am and he’s at your door and he wants you back and he’s begging for forgiveness – Remember that

When your phone keeps ringing all night long and that same old weakness gets so strong that you’re helpless – Remember that

It doesn’t matter how he hurts you

With his hands or with his words

You don’t deserve it, it ain’t worth it

Take your heart and run

When it’s 3 am and he’s at your door and he wants you back and he’s begging for forgiveness – Remember that

When your phone keeps ringing all night long and that same old weakness gets so strong that you’re helpless – Remember that

Remember, you’re gonna be alright

Take it from me, I’ve stood there in your shoes.

*************************************************************************

You may have heard the new Jessica Simpson single ‘Remember That’ playing on the radio recently. Rachel Proctor and I wrote the song together, and it’s a song we’re very proud of because every line of it is written from personal experience. It amazes me how many intelligent, strong women fall prey to abusive relationships, and how difficult it is to break that pattern. When you’re in love, you always want to see the beauty in the person you’re with, and to remember the good things about your time together. But in order to find the strength to break the pattern, you have to force yourself to remember the bad things.

Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes the line that’s crossed is a blurry one. It doesn’t always leave scars on your skin, but that doesn’t mean the scars aren’t there. In this blog I’ll tell you my story behind ‘Remember That’. You can visit www.myspace.com/rachelproctorsongs to read Rachel’s story too. The names have been changed, but everything else is accurate. I know that this will be upsetting for some people to read, but I’m not doing this to hurt anyone. I’m doing this because I want to stand up and share my own story, in hopes that it will make a difference in someone else’s life. The more open we are about this topic, the more we can help women who are standing in those shoes step out of them and into a new life.

&f&f&f&f&f&f

MY STORY:

I moved to Nashville from Canada in my early 20s with all of my belongings stuffed into a Chevy Sprint. I have always been very close to my family so leaving them a thousand miles behind me was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I knew that songwriting was my calling, so I was following the call to Music City to work as a professional songwriter.

I guess I must have been pretty naÔve about love. I had only dated one guy   I had been with my high school boyfriend for ten years. We had gone through a lot together, but by the time I moved to Nashville our lives were heading in different directions.

We were still trying to maintain a long-distance relationship when I first met Steve, but the flame had begun to fizzle out and we were calling each other less and less often. I liked Steve, but I didn’t really think much of it. He had taken one of the head positions at the company where I worked. He was very friendly, and had a great smile and an infectious laugh. Most people loved him; he was the kind of outgoing, charming man who never met a stranger. He was quick with a compliment, had an exciting, almost manic energy about him, and he could start up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. But there were some people who instantly disliked him. And the people who didn’t like him REALLY didn’t like him. I never quite understood why at the time. I guess his personality was like a magic spell; it worked on most of us, but others could see right through it to the flaws underneath.

Occasionally I would spend afternoons sitting in his office, trading stories. I was sitting there with him one afternoon a few months after we’d met and he invited me to go out for a margarita after work. It didn’t seem unusual; it was pretty common to go out and discuss work over drinks. So I did.

Instead of one margarita, he ordered us a pitcher. And then another. And then he started to tell me how he felt about me. First I was stunned, and then I was flattered, and then I started to get that butterflies-in-my-stomach, pulse-racing feeling that I hadn’t felt in a long time. For the first time I looked at him and realize how attracted I was to him. With all that tequila going to my head, I don’t remember much about the rest of the night, but I know I woke up beside him the next day and the rest is history.

Within a few days, I called my boyfriend and broke up with him, and then I jumped right in with Steve without giving it a second thought. We were inseparable. We spent every night together, sitting on the bridge over the river next to his house, telling stories about our pasts. We shared everything with each other. I could see that his life was a mess &unpaid bills, two failed marriages, weekend visitations with his kids &but he seemed so vulnerable and so honest about his mistakes, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him and kind of protective of him. He just seemed like a guy who had always meant well, but had been in a series of difficult relationships and had ended up running for the hills every time. I didn’t realize that in most cases, someone’s past behavior is a good predictor of their future behavior. I believed in change, in giving people the benefit of the doubt. If I had known then what I know now, I would have seen the red flags from miles away.

Steve always saw himself as the victim. He had cheated in most of his relationships, but it was always because he was unhappy, manipulated, or nagged. He had even been accused of physically assaulting one of his ex-wives, but he claimed he just hit her in self-defense because she hit him first. I saw no reason to doubt that; the stories he told me made her sound pretty crazy.

I also turned a blind eye to Steve’s drinking. Every night, the vodka or wine bottle would be opened up and he’d keep pouring us drinks. I’d get a little tipsy, but I wasn’t a big drinker so I’d nurse my glass all night long. Steve, however, drank a LOT. And he held it well. I could hardly even tell that he was drunk until his eyes got a little unfocused at the end of the night. But I told myself it was just part of the fun. It seemed like a natural way to unwind after a long day at work, sitting on the bridge and dangling our feet off the edge over the river below, drinking vodka and cranberry juice with the ice cubes tinkling in the glass, and watching the fireflies flicker and rise in the distance while the heavy Tennessee midsummer heat trickled sweat down the backs of our necks. And he was such a romantic. He would look straight into my eyes with his deep gaze, and tell me how beautiful I was &how lucky he was &how I wasn’t like any other woman he’d ever met &how I was an angel sent to rescue him &how he wanted to start his life over with me, have a family with me &how nothing could ever tear us apart &how he would love me forever and ever. And I soaked it in. I thought to myself &THIS is how love is supposed to be. Passion. Fire. I couldn’t get enough.

I caught him in some pretty big lies about his past, but by the time I figured that out, I was so deeply in love with him that I somehow managed to justify them all. He was just scared. He didn’t want me to leave him. He had whitewashed the truth because he thought I would run away. But he didn’t know my strength. He didn’t know what an understanding woman I was. I would show him what true love really is. That’s what I told myself.

I found myself turning away from the large circle of friends I used to have, until one by one they fell out of my life. Steve didn’t really have any close friends, and when I spent time with mine, I missed him. I felt vaguely like I was abandoning him, and he’d sulk and be grumpy about it afterwards. I started to believe, like he did, that we should be everything to each other. We shouldn’t need anyone else.

I began to depend on him as my advisor, and I became his protegÈ. He had a lot of experience in the music business, and I trusted his instincts far more than I trusted my own. At home, I was his secretary, his nurse, and his cheerleader. I would sit enthralled and listen for hours to his stories about work. I’d spend days sorting through his piles of overdue bills, sorting out what needed to be paid and helping him to repair his credit. I would plan visits with his family, who welcomed me with open arms. They had been estranged from him on several occasions in the past (something that I didn’t find surprising, knowing how turbulent his life had been) and I enjoyed playing the role of the healer and helping him to make those bonds tight again. I also really hit it off with his kids, and enjoyed the weekend visits we had with them.

I took Steve to visit my parents for the first time about a month after we met. They were immediately suspicious of him. They knew his track record with relationships was not good, and they were worried about their daughter. I think they wanted to warn me, but they could see how I felt about him, and they knew that there was nothing they could say or do to change things   I would have turned a deaf ear to their criticisms if they had tried. Steve had an irresistible boyish charm – he was so sincere about the way he felt about me – and I was so obviously in love with him that they eventually embraced him as part of the family.

I moved in with him after three months, and two years later we bought a house together. It was a beautiful old farmhouse with a tin roof, set back off a secluded road in the country about 45 minutes outside Nashville   it was a miracle to find it, because it was exactly what we had been imagining we wanted to buy one day. It needed a lot of fixing up, so we started work on renovating it, and for the next couple of years we single-handedly gutted each room down to the studs, jacking up floors and ceilings, insulating walls, cutting through the roof to build a dormer, and making it into a dream home that we were going to live in for the rest of our lives. It was a lot of work but we loved doing it. We’d spend weekends hanging drywall and painting ceilings with classic rock blasting on the transistor radio. We’d carve crooked hearts with our initials inside them into the studs inside the walls. Every so often I’d pick up the video camera and film Steve playing air guitar with the nail gun, or he’d film me looking cross-eyed at a blotch of paint on my nose, and we’d laugh until our sides ached.

Every night after work, Steve would pour himself a glass of vodka and cranberry juice, and he’d keep re-filling it all night long. Sometimes I’d even wake up on Saturday morning and look out the window to see him mowing the yard with that glass already in his hand. But it never seemed to be an issue. It was just his way of relaxing.

A year after we bought the house, Steve built a beautiful white arbor in the front yard between my lily beds, and we were married there in a small ceremony with just our families and some old friends in attendance. Each morning we’d wake up in each other’s arms to the birds singing in the trees outside our windows and the sight of the neighbor’s black horses in the long green grass. I had never been so happy.

I can’t put my finger on exactly when things started to fall apart, but it happened over the course of about a year. Two years into our marriage, Steve lost his job and became frighteningly depressed. I did my best to stand by him, to support him emotionally and financially while he worked through things. He cried all the time, lost a lot of weight and went to the doctor over and over again, convinced that he was dying of some unknown disease. The doctor prescribed antidepressants, but Steve refused to take them.

I wouldn’t admit to myself how scared I was or how crazy he was acting   I was determined to be calm and positive and put on a happy face to the world as if everything was OK. Looking back now, I realize that I should have taken that a lot more seriously than I did. Paired with his usual manic personality, this period of depression seems suspiciously like a sign of an undiagnosed psychological problem.

A few months later, he was inexplicably acting normal again, and I breathed a sigh of relief. He started a new job that demanded a lot of his attention, and it was nice to see him excited about something. How could I complain when he started to spend more and more time at the office? How could I be upset when he didn’t come home until after dark and the dinner I had spent hours cooking got cold on the stove? He was happy, and I was happy for him. But I missed my best friend, and the house that once seemed like such a haven began to feel empty and sad. Night after night, I’d sit at the kitchen table in silence and eat my cold dinner alone, watching the sun going down on the fields outside the window and feeling for the first time how isolated I had become from the rest of the world. And then I’d go up to bed, and sometime in the night I’d feel him climb in next to me and take me in his arms. But then I’d wake up in the morning, reach over to his side of the bed and find that he was gone again.

Soon the long days he was spending at the office turned into stretches of time when he didn’t come home at all. He said he was sleeping on the office couch to avoid the long commute, or that he was taking trips out of state with the company’s investor. He had rarely missed a weekend with his oldest daughter before, but he started to miss several of those at a time. His drinking started to increase. He’d always called me several times a day, but now sometimes he’d forget to call me at all to say he wasn’t coming home – he’d gone out for ‘business’ drinks after work and was too drunk to drive   and I would spend the night lying awake with my stomach in knots, picturing him broken and bleeding in a wrecked car somewhere.

It was like all the old rules of our relationship didn’t apply anymore, and I didn’t understand the new rules. He was the one that had taught me that we were supposed to put each other first   that it was the two of us against the world   but now I was suddenly the last thing in his life, and I began to feel a kind of desperation and emptiness in mine that I had never felt before. We started to argue more and more often. I wanted to talk about starting a family, but he insisted that he didn’t want any more children. That’s why I married you,’ he said. ‘I TOLD you I didn’t want any more kids, and you told me you were OK with that!’ I must be crazy, I told myself. I must be remembering things wrong. But I had ALWAYS wanted kids. How did I end up married to someone who didn’t?

When he came home after several days away, he started to be increasingly annoyed and rude with me. When I was panicking because he hadn’t deposited his paycheck into our bank account in weeks, and I couldn’t figure out how to pay all the bills and child support with just my own income, he called me a nag. ‘No wonder I never come home, if it’s going to be like this,’ he’d say, ‘Why are you being such a bitch? Can’t you just shut up and let me relax for once?’ If I didn’t mow the two acres of yard while he was gone, I was lazy. If I did mow the yard, it was too short and I was going to kill the grass, and why couldn’t I do ANYTHING right? If I looked at him the wrong way, he was outraged with me. Sometimes I’d start to feel angry about the way that he was treating me, but then I’d start to question myself &maybe he’s right &maybe I AM being unreasonable &maybe I AM just lazy and clingy and I’ve become that stereotypical sniping, nagging wife. So I tried to tiptoe around like I was walking on eggshells. But no matter what I did, it was always the wrong thing.

He told me I was driving him crazy, that I was driving him away. He stopped coming home altogether and started staying in hotels instead. I cried myself to sleep night after night, wondering what I could possibly do to be the woman he wanted me to be. I just wanted my husband back. After a couple of weeks, I broke down and drove to the hotel he was staying in, knocking on the door of his room in tears in the middle of the night, begging him to go to couples therapy with me, begging him to come home. He looked at me with cold disgust. ‘No,’ he said. ‘It’s too late for that. Go home. Leave me alone.’ I was devastated. It was as if there was an impostor walking around in my husband’s body. How could the love of my life suddenly become so cruel and uncaring?

When I finally got it together enough to look at the cell phone bill, I saw that he had been making over 30 calls a day for the past three months to a number I didn’t recognize. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I dialed the number, and heard a woman’s voice I didn’t recognize on the other end of the line. My heart fell out of my chest. I thought I was going to throw up. He was seeing someone else. His trips out of state hadn’t been business. They hadn’t been time spent alone to think things over. Nothing had been what it seemed.

I was enraged, I was crushed, I felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck. How could this have happened to us? I was his angel! We were meant to be together! We were different from the others! I couldn’t even imagine my life without him. When I confronted him about it, he admitted there was someone else, but he insisted it was just an ‘emotional affair’. The phone bills and credit card bills gave the truth away, but I still didn’t know what to believe. He was so good at lying that it was frightening. He would look me straight in the eye and tell me something I knew was untrue with such honesty that I began to question my own sanity.

I didn’t know where to turn, so I began to read self-help books about midlife crisis, about surviving your husband’s affair, about waiting things out and putting things back together again. I tried to choke back my rage and despair and smile. I didn’t call him, didn’t pester him, stopped nagging him &I tried to act like a saint. When I talked to him I would pretend everything was fine. I was a shoulder for him to cry on &ignoring my own heart breaking into pieces as I listened to him talk about how torn he was, how attracted he was to this other woman, how he didn’t want to lose me but he couldn’t stop seeing her.

I held it together for a few weeks, until the night of our 3rd anniversary. That was the night that changed my life, the night that finally gave me the strength to leave. That was the night that our dream home became my nightmare.

I was supposed to meet Steve for dinner at a nice restaurant downtown to celebrate our anniversary. I was thin and pale, weak from all the tears I had been crying, but I covered my the dark circles under my eyes with makeup, put on a pretty dress, and tried to smile as if everything was fine. When I got to the restaurant, Steve wasn’t there yet. The hostess sat me at a small candlelit table, and I propped Steve’s anniversary card up against his wine glass. I had made the card myself, like the old love letters we used to give to each other, and inside it I had written a list of all the beautiful and special things I loved about him. I sat there alone for almost an hour. Steve finally arrived in a rush, kissing me on the cheek and apologizing for being kept late at work.

The evening felt like a masquerade, heavy with a sadness that was hard to ignore. Steve ordered a lot of drinks with dinner, and I was trying not to think about the knot of suspicion in my stomach. But the moment we got home, I couldn’t help but go straight upstairs to check the online cell phone records.

My suspicions had been right. He hadn’t been working late. He had been on the phone with his girlfriend the entire time I had been sitting there in the restaurant staring at the red crayon hearts on the envelope of his anniversary card.

When I realized that, it was like a dam burst inside me. I couldn’t hold it all in any longer. I called him into the room, pointed at the phone records on the computer screen, and screamed at him that I couldn’t deal with this anymore, that I was going to call his girlfriend’s husband and bring their affair out into the open. All of my pent up anger came pouring out, and I thundered and roared and threw all of his lies in his face.

Steve became like a cornered animal. He completely snapped. He shoved me so hard that I fell across my desk, smashing my computer. He began picking up furniture and throwing it, breaking a window. He started systematically destroying things that were mine &a little antique bedside table I had bought &pictures of my family &a coffee table book about my hometown. He went into my closet and started throwing my clothing out onto the lawn. His face was beet red, and he pushed it up against mine, his nose pressed to my nose, and screamed a string of curse words at me, calling me every ugly name you can imagine at the top of his lungs.

It didn’t take long to realize that things were out of control. I got quiet. He got louder. I got scared. This was escalating into something serious and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was in trouble. So I went downstairs to get the phone and call someone. He followed on my heels, tore the phone out of my hand, smashed it on the floor and ripped the line out of the wall. I ran back upstairs and locked myself in the bedroom where my cell phone was. He ran up the stairs behind me and started beating on the door with his fists, shouting.

I dialed 911 and told them in a hurried whisper what was happening. They said the police were on the way. I wondered how strong the door was, and how long it would keep him out. Then the doorknob started to shake and I realized that he had a screwdriver and he was taking the door handle off. I wondered how long the police were going to take to get there, and I wondered what would happen when he got through that door. I sat curled up in a chair in the corner of the room we had just painted   my stepdaughter’s sky blue bedroom with the seashells from our Florida trip on the windowsill   and waited. The handle came off. He reached his hand through the hole. I couldn’t breathe. Time stood still while he struggled to open the door, but he couldn’t get the lock to let go.

He went away for a moment then, and I sat there curled up and silent in that chair, too scared to even cry, wondering what was going to happen next. I could hear him storming through the house, breaking things, and then I heard the back door slam as he went outside. I heard the rattling of the extension ladder, and the thud of it hitting the wall just below the window of my room. I was terrified. I turned toward the window and counted his heavy steps up the rungs, waiting for his face to appear.

The moment I saw him, a sickening awakening came over me. This wasn’t the face of the man I loved. It was the face of a stranger   a terrifying, ugly face. I remember telling myself &REMEMBER THIS. REMEMBER THIS MOMENT. REMEMBER THIS FACE. REMEMBER HOW YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW. FREEZE IT INTO YOUR MIND. This is your real husband. This is the ugly, terrifying truth. This is not something you can paint over later. There is no way to make this ok, no matter how hard you try, and you are going to try really hard. There is absolutely no way to put your life back together again. And as he stood there on the ladder, reaching for the window, I heard the gravel crunch in the driveway. The police had arrived.

After they left with my husband, I packed some belongings in a bag. With shaking fingers I dialed Christina, my only friend. I told her what had happened, and she told me to come straight over to her house. I did. Later that night, I called my parents up in Canada and told them what had happened. They were beside themselves, devastated that they were so far away when I needed their help. I was in shock. I remember apologizing to them for some reason, as if I what had happened had been my fault.

Taking my life apart from Steve’s was like tearing half of my heart out, piece by piece. In a series of trips back to the house while he was at work, I separated the photos in our albums, his laundry from mine, divided our wedding presents into two boxes. It was all I could do not to answer the phone when he called, not to fall under the spell of his apologies. But I had to remind myself that what someone says and what they do are two different things, and you have to believe what they do. Steve could say he was sorry a hundred times, but that wouldn’t change anything. BEING sorry is what really matters, and that takes changing behavior, changing patterns, therapy, solitude, and doing whatever else is necessary to make sure the hurt never happens again. Steve didn’t do any of that.

I don’t know why I ever expected anything to be sacred to Steve, or how his behavior could continue to shock me. Still, for some reason I was determined to handle the end of our relationship with some level of respect and fairness even though he had shown none to me. I found it impossible to completely shut off the love I had once felt for him and harden my heart enough to divorce him. I kept praying to God not to force me to be the strong one – if Steve and I couldn’t be together then at least he could be a man, pitch in and help me make the divorce quick and clean. But for almost a year, I lived in an apartment of my own while Steve continued to live in our house, making a series of never-ending promises to finish up the final renovations and prepare it for sale. In his eyes, he was the victim again. He was the victim of his own demons, of an unfair world, of a wife who was leaving him and forcing a divorce on him that he didn’t want. But with some distance between us it became more and more easy to see how ridiculously skewed his reality was, and slowly he lost his power over me. I didn’t care what he thought anymore. His problems were not my problems.

By the time I found enough strength to end our relationship legally, I found out that despite everything he’d been telling me, he was already several months into an affair with a new girlfriend. The day before the divorce was final, I took the real estate agent through the house to list it for sale. It was all I could do to choke back a scream as I walked past the cards, Valentines and love notes between my husband and his new girlfriend. ‘We were brought together for a reason,’ they said. ‘You are my angel. You rescued me. I will love you forever and ever.’

After the divorce, the full weight of loneliness set in, and it was crushing. Everywhere I went and everyone I met reminded me of Steve. I went out on a few dates, but I wasn’t really interested in anyone that I met, no matter how well they treated me or how attractive they were. No one measured up to the Steve I had loved   the old Steve, who used to make me laugh until I cried &who left me crooked hearts in the shower steam on the bathroom mirror every day &who bought me every rose in the flower saleslady’s bouquet down at the bar on Friday night &who twirled me around the dance floor at our wedding with tears of happiness streaming down his face. But the only real evidence of Steve was the wedding ring up in a box in my attic, and the occasional ringing of my phone in the middle of the night. His drunken, slurred voice whispering ‘I miss you. I messed up.’ That was not the man I loved. The man I loved didn’t really exist. He never had. I had created him out of the best parts of Steve, but I had left out all the pieces that didn’t fit.

I wanted it to stop hurting, and that left me no choice but to move on. So I did the only thing I knew how to do   I took one tiny footstep, one minute, one hour, and one day at a time. I changed my phone number. I distanced myself from Steve’s family (they had always been supportive and sympathetic with me, and I loved them dearly, but it was too painful to be around them). I bought a new house. I started sleeping in the middle of the bed instead of on the side like I used to. I bought new clothes, started eating healthier food, and tried to adopt a more gentle and respectful attitude towards myself. I wrote song after song to purge the pain and work through the heartache of what had happened. I started seeing a therapist. I went out to a lot of social events. I still didn’t date anyone, but I reached out to new people and made new, deep and lasting friendships   some of the best I’ve ever had. I took trips to places Steve and I had visited and filled them with new and better memories. I wrote page upon page in my journal, trying to understand what had happened to me and why I had made the decisions I had, and trying to figure out how to avoid making them again. And instead of feeling lonely, I gradually started to feel more comfortable being alone, and I started to feel real happiness again.

One February morning almost two years after the divorce, I woke up and realized that I was strong enough to deal with the last remaining unfinished business Steve and I had left. I knew instantly what I had to do. So I went up to the attic and got the wedding ring from the box where I had kept it, scraped the morning frost off my car windshield and started driving. I drove to the restaurant where Steve and I had spent our first date, and I parked the car in the parking lot. I closed my eyes and allowed my mind to go back in time and remember the two of us there   every detail of that evening that I could resurrect. And I whispered, ‘I forgive you. I release you.’

After that, I drove to the office where we had worked together &to the house where we first lived together &to the hotel where I’d knocked on his door in the middle of the night &to our old farmhouse, ripe with bitter and sweet memories &and I pictured the two of us there, in as much detail as I could, tears running down my face, repeating the mantra, ‘I forgive you. I release you.’

By late afternoon, I found myself back at the bridge where we used to sit and talk when we were first dating. A cold rain had started to fall, so I turned up the collar on my winter coat, curled my fingers around the ring in my pocket and walked out to the middle of the bridge over the river. I sat down, closed my eyes and pictured the two of us sitting in that exact spot together, talking, laughing, and falling in love. I remembered the tinkle of the ice in the glasses beside us, and the whirring of the cicadas under the summer stars. Time turned itself backwards until I could see us perfectly, sitting right there next to me: a younger me, and a younger Steve &so innocent, so oblivious, so messed up, and destined for such pain and destruction. I cried for us, and for how beautiful and terrible that simple image was. My heart broke with pity for Steve, who was no longer a tyrant or a traitor, just a tiny, powerless, desperately lonely and hopelessly flawed soul who couldn’t be fixed – it was poison to even try. And my heart overflowed with love for the young, inexperienced girl trying to fill an emptiness in her spirit, looking right past the truth to see only what she wanted to see, making a choice that would change her life forever and bring her to this moment nine years later.

I wiped the tears and the rain from my cheeks. I stood up and looked down at the grey sky reflected in the river below me. I reached into my pocket, pulled out the wedding ring, and cradled it in my palm. I stretched my arm out over the edge of the bridge and slowly opened my fingers. I smiled and whispered, ‘I forgive you. I release you.’ And I let go.

*****

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