2019 is proving to be a big year for my family and I. My mom and brother moved to my little town, here in South Carolina, just a few months ago after living in central Virginia for over 30 years. It's also the 20th anniversary of us escaping my abusive father. Back in 1999, we packed up what we could in trash bags and left our home as quickly as we could before my father got back from work. This year, I'm also leaving toxic situations including a marriage to (most likely) a narcissist. It's very eerily similar to the situation involving the escape from my father so many years ago. So much about my marriage was nearly identical to what I experienced in the abusive household I grew up in. The sad part is, I always promised myself I would never end up in a situation like that ever again, that I'd be an advocate for people in pernicious/abusive relationships. But unfortunately, the cycle continued. I had over and over, told myself that I was just viewing situations incorrectly, being overly sensitive, not being understanding enough, not doing my part, not being patient enough. All these things are conversations that I've had with other people over the years and told them, no, it's not them, they're just making excuses for the person, that they themselves are not crazy, that it's a toxic relationship and they need to get out.
Even I became blind to my own advice and insight.
But freedom awaits...yet again. Freedom is wonderful but I wish I wasn't having to seek it again. Especially not under these circumstances. And this sort of freedom always comes at a cost, yet hands down, it's worth it. It's worth it to me.
Our official 20th anniversary is August 10th at about 4:30 in the afternoon. I've been planning on doing something big for our family since it's such a big anniversary for such a big life event. Though I'm in the midst of an awful divorce, I was bound and determined to still make this a special time for us.
We decided to go to the coast - Beaufort SC and Hunting Island, one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.
The coastal South is built along and around meandering waterways through endless marshes, abounding with creatures both winged and swimming. The moist salt air makes for dreamy, steamy sunsets every night, bursting with sounds of screeching cicadas and popping clams...if you're lucky enough - the sound of a dolphin tail splashing as it swims through the narrow marsh creeks.
Beaufort is a lovely historic, coastal, southern town arranged on a grid plan with charming antebellum and victorian homes along narrow streets lined with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
Hunting Island, a sea island, just south east of Beaufort is hauntingly beautiful. It's a think palm forest and has a very Jurassic feel to it. It's north beaches is nature's jungle gym from all the dead trees scattered along the sand, either overlapping or piled, some laying alone with giant vertical walls of roots.
I spent an afternoon sketching a shell, watching nosy seagulls fly overhead and the sun glimmering between palm fronds, while my mom and brother were diving into waves.
My favorite places to eat: The Foolish Frog
My favorite places to shop: Island Lavender
McDonald Market Place
Cook on Bay
My favorite places to explore: Chapel of Ease Ruins
Old Sheldon Church Ruins
When in Beaufort, I like to stop in at Old Sheldon Church Ruins and the Chapel of Ease ruins. Historical places are like a playground for my mind. They hold so many memories of things that happened long ago, the people who lived there, what it once looked like, what it once sounded like and what it once smelled like. Being in a place where so many other people had once been is in a way almost like time travel. When you step into a place like that, you're seeing some of the things they saw, touching the things they touched. Centuries may have passed, the architecture changes, fashion changes but the daily basics of what makes up a person's story....is generally very similar, if not entirely the same. The joys of love and aches from heartbreak, successes and loss. No matter the time period, those things never change. When you touch the walls of an old home, a ruin or a patch of grass on old land, these are the elements of human history that connect us to the past. And at a time when our family is reminiscing on our own past and looking to our own future, places like these help keep us in perspective and grounded.
This area of South Carolina is one of our new favorite spots and we will for sure be coming back many times in the near future.