I hadn't realized how many little things I had learnt to do over the course of our marriage in order to keep as much peace as I could in the home. It occurred to me in the months following the separation. I began to notice behaviours that no longer served a purpose. To me, the most profound was the look out the kitchen window. I noticed that I would be glancing out the kitchen window around dinner time waiting for him to come home. Partially because it was strange that he no longer came home, but more so to do an assessment. I noticed that at that moment, I would experience some anxiety, so I began looking at this habit, questioning its purpose. I found that I had spent the last few years watching for him to come in that back gate so as to asses his demeanor. To gather the necessary information that would allow me to use the next 30 seconds wisely. In the time it would take him to walk from the gate, get out his keys and enter the house, I would do a mental check - was dinner far enough along? were there toys in the way? was the music too loud, not to his approval? were the kids too excited, grumpy, bouncy? I would look at him, read his face and body language as he'd come through the gate in attempt to prepare for the mood that would be with him upon his entering the door.
It took a while to stop this, or to do it less frequently, as every so often I still find myself doing the look out the window. It is strange the little things that become so routine in the toxic environment, so essential for survival that we do not see them as abnormal. We do not question them, they just are. I was not even conscious of the look out the kitchen window until months after he left.
2 months ago