The Mess He Made

February 10, 2020

I can still remember the sound of the box hitting the wall. I can still feel the occupants spilling out, onto me, onto the floor, onto the walls. I should have seen it coming, except I didn’t. Back then reality was clouded by the endless attempts of walking on eggshells. That’s the truth and destruction of living with an addict.

I stood there, broken. Confused how I let things get this far. I was standing in a room, now covered in food. Food I had graciously purchased, for us. Food that now had to be cleaned up, rather than eaten and enjoyed. I had never seen coleslaw slathered all over carpet and drywall until that day. I can still smell the stale stench of cigarettes blended with the smell of fried food and emptiness. It’s the kind of moment that stays with you. 

It wasn’t the first time I felt humiliated, but it was one that would stay with me, always. Even now, decades later, happy and free. 

I think back to that girl, that shell of a person. I wonder how she let someone else’s inner conflict steal her confidence and poise. I wonder why in that very moment, the moment she was covered in food and abuse, she didn’t walk out and never return. Why did she stay to clean up the mess? What left her there, paralyzed and lost?

She saw someone who needed help, so she stayed. She saw someone that needed rescued, so she stayed. She couldn’t disappear back into the regular world. She had a responsibility to help, to decrease the damage, and to repair the brokenness. She didn’t realize it at the time, but when brokenness mixes with addiction, it can’t be healed by love, or grit, or prayers. It can only be healed from within, and this wasn’t her battle. 

That empty girl was me, even as unrecognizable as she seems now. The woman I am now would never allow such disrespect. But pain and experience are priceless motivators. Pain, disrespect, and abuse are some of life’s most difficult and powerful lessons. They teach us important things. They teach us to overcome, to rise, to win. 

A broken man taught me so much about life and self-worth. A broken man taught me valuable lessons about respect and power and character. A broken man broke me, but the redemption was in the picked up pieces. A broken man tried to steal my power and future. Instead, he created a woman stronger than him, and stronger than the destruction he laid in her path. 

Like those scattered pieces of food on the floor, his life would remain messy and spoiled, but not hers. She walked away. She won the battle. She won her life back. 

And now she’s happy, without fear of her future. Because now, she decides. It’s hers. 

It always was.

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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