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Copyright 2009-2010 by
Mary Brotherton
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Inside my Brain

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Sunday, September 08, 2002


I was at the airport almost an hour early yesterday. I had checked the traffic reports, and it seemed as if I should leave earlier than I had planned. Also, I was anxious to be certain to be on time to greet my fiance who had been away on business most of the past week. I've never been to the airport on a Saturday before, but the crowd looked like the crowds on any other day of the week. Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport is rivaled only by Chicago's O'Hare for volume of daily flights.

I was actually pleased to arrive early. This allowed me to participate in my newest hobby: people watching. I've always been too busy smelling the roses on my path to notice the other people who were smelling them, or walking past, or snagging their outfits on the thorns. People were not my concern, when my heart was torn open from the psychological abuse I had endured as part of my first marriage. Simple survival was my concern. Years later, I still ponder why I tolerated his subtly sweet insults, his false accusations, his efforts to isolate me from my dearest friends and family. I don't contemplate my leaving. That was cut and dried. A simple matter of survival. Never once, during the twenty-five years that we were married, did I believe that he would or could cause me any physical harm. I never feared for my life as his wife, although once separated, his stalking me did cause my friends and colleagues some concern. I had to consider if he was actually stalking me, or if he was simply following me to validate his suspicion that I had numerous lovers. Yep! That would have made me some kind of "Wonder" woman! Working full time, taking university classes each night, studying hard enough to maintain my position on the dean's list, managing a home with a teenager--let's see; I could fit one or two lovers into my busy schedule between the hours of 2 AM (when I stopped studying) and 6 AM (when I woke to prepare for work), but the seven or eight that I was accused of? That might be a stretch for even Linda Lovelace!

The night that I vowed to escape the marital home that had become my prison, body language was more oppressive than verbal language. I had become a sniveling coward, curled in the fetal position, wishing to curl upon myself enough that no one could ever touch me again, with words or fists of velvet. I wanted to become insane. Prayed for insanity! Begged the Universe for the strength and power to simply walk out, then and there. Strength came, but not that night, not that way. HE towered over me, yet a casual observer might think he was comforting me, protecting me, smothering me with love. He was smothering me, alright. The death that I feared was not a physical death, it was an emotional, psychological, and spiritual death. The man who professed to love me above all others was killing me with his bullying, with his insecurities, with his jealousy, and with his efforts at love.

People watching? I dared not watch people when I was married. Male or female, friend or foe would have been considered one of my numerous lovers. No, I was a submissive wife, I walked with my eyes averted, my head down, and my spirit wilting. I shrouded my dreams in a conservative attitude, when I was silently shouting to be freed from my cocoon. I never noticed people that were not directly involved in my life, or approved by the man who controlled my self-esteem.

That was then. Now, I am a new person. I have been emancipated. Some way, somehow, I managed to dig deep inside of my soul and gain the power to walk away from his oppression. I'd been wanting to do it for many years. I'd rented my own place two months before I actually left him, but did not possess the power or courage to leave. There is no right time to do something like that. There is no right way. Cut clean, cut fast, but cut and run! I had no option. No looking back. I am in a different place today. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, literally.

Languages. Body language, lovers' language, spoken language. Languages were on my mind earlier, when I started this. Interesting how when I least expect it, my "X" comes back to haunt me. "X" - Ex - Former - Previous - First husband. A man who was but a boy when we wed. A man who fathered my sons. A man who in spite of his best efforts could not love me without destroying me for a quarter of a century, the man who could not grow with me, but was content to sit and stagnate in his own lies, flavored with his own fantasies, unable to see the truth that was obvious to everyone else.

Returning to the airport, I heard more languages than there are muppets on Sesame Street. Most people were dressed in casual clothing, such as jeans and tee shirts, while others wore flowing robes of silk. The airport is a prime location to notice exhibitionists displaying body art and piercings, children, lonely lovers, parents, and friends gathering to greet their loved ones. I could easily pick out the families who were greeting exchange students: they were clustered together with signs welcoming the new members of their families to the USA. Some of these were in groups of half a dozen or more who were either dressed in matching shirts, or wearing goofy over-sized held a hat in her hands. I had to assume that was for the exchange student.

While I waited for my fiance, I listened to the language of fellow waiters. I watched them speak with impatient bodies, anxious or nervous energy. I stuffed my hands into the pockets of my denim shorts, and leaned against a wall behind the barrier and noticed how these people greeted one another, and I had to wonder if my reunion would be different from past reunions. This time, he'd been gone almost a full week, nearly twice as long as most business trips. He's never been one to publicly display his affection for me, and his back generally aches too much from the flight for him to want even the tiniest embrace. A kiss might be given, but most times, he is focused on getting home first. He just does not like stopping in the middle of a swarming multitude to embrace me.

So, I resolved myself to this fact, and watched as young men greeted young women with sweeping hugs, single, or bouquets of roses. I watched as women squealed with delight at seeing their lovers arrive. I melted with a shared softness as children greeted mothers who'd been away for any number of reasons. I surmised at least a dozen possible reasons that middle aged couples may have been apart, and guessed, based on the length of their embraces, the length of their separation. I did not have to eavesdrop to hear exclamations of welcome, love, and unification.

Then, I saw him. He looked positively radiant. I believe he was twice as handsome as the day we met. My heart pounded, and I wanted to be like the youngsters who ducked under the barrier rope to be with their mothers, but I restrained myself, and walked in an orderly fashion to the end of the barricade, so that I could see the man who has taught me the meaning of unconditional love. Then he saw me. We were more than twenty feet apart, yet I felt his embrace. The look of love and awe that he held in his eyes spoke more to me than any rose or placard could have. He held me there, spellbound for a nanosecond, then we were close enough to touch. One finger touched my cheek, and I was electrified. It's probably a very good thing that he did not embrace me there. I may have dissolved into thin air, if he had. Our smiles were embrace enough. We walked and talked and then he reached out to take my hand.

Sparkling eyes, legs that walks a bit faster, smiles, a mental connection, and two or three fingers that interlace for a moment before sliding apart to open a door - these are the language of lovers, and a language that I am honored to say that I have learned.