I left in such a hurry. I moved out of his house on the Thursday evening and left the country on the Saturday morning. I had a searing desire to ignite everything that had a memory attached to him. First on the bonfire would be all the wedding pictures and my wedding dress. This yearning was strenous to appease, but I managed to file it away in a bespoke cabinet at the back of my mind which was despair proof. As the plane ascended, I was consumed by angry thoughts of having to leave my island home Dominica and dealing with the fact that all my memories that should be burned still existed in my bedroom at my parent’s home.

Approximately eleven months later I returned. My sister was getting married in Dominica. There is a common misconception which I must clear up straight away. My island home of Dominica must never be confused with the Dominican Republic. My island is much further south in the island chain and is situated between Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is only because I love my sister that I made the effort to attended. I wasn’t emotionally ready to return even though I missed my family, friends and  the island itself. I was barely holding on to my mental health, I was uneasy about how going back to the scene of the crime would affect me. I wasn’t mentally equipped yet, but for my sister I would have to put it all aside. She deserved to have the entire family in attendance. I owed it to myself to face the demon.

So guess what put a smile on my face each time I thought about flying home? Yes, my long awaited bonfire. Now fire is fire right? But I mused about how hot the fire would be and visualized everything going up in smoke. It was almost sadistic, but the image gave me pure pleasure. Looking back that was a sure sign of pain. Even if I had enough time back then to have my bonfire, the chains of abuse would still have had me bound. The physical breaking of chains is no substitute for the unchaining of the mind and soul. That is what truly sets you free from the grief of abuse.

The wedding was early July so I went back for the entire summer. As I knew there wouldn’t be any teaching jobs during the summer holiday, there was no logical reason to run back to the UK until September. That would leave plenty of time for my  inferno. I thought about it everyday but purposefully made myself wait until after the wedding when things would be quiet and calm.

The perfect day arrived. Not a rain cloud in sight, no danger of being asked to do anything and I had nothing planned. I sat on my bedroom floor and made two piles; too burn & not to burn. I hummed as I worked. The movie ‘Waiting to Exhale’ came to mind. Angela Bassett plays the wife of a man who is unfaithful. She gathers up all her husband’s belongings, every suit, jacket and tie. She puts them into his favourite car. When she’s done she stops for a cigarette break. She takes a lighter, lights the cigarette and takes a puff. Angela takes the rest of the cigarette and throws it through the car roof. The gasoline drenched assets go up in smoke. The scene ends with a look of pure delight on her face.

I took the bag of stuff outside and gathered a small pile of dried mango leaves and twigs. As I struck the match my adrenalin kicked in. I took the items one by one from the bag and threw them into the fire. I looked at each picture for the last time before being witness to their demise. The whole thing was utterly gratifying. Now I could move on.

Our lives are filled with numerous chapters. Some we revisit time and time again, filling our belly with laughter. Some are solemn and cause us to sigh. We flip back and forth as memories are triggered. We have no control over vivid memoirs. There are other chapters which we file and throw away the key. Having said that, can we ever truly completely forget? Perhaps not. Maybe that’s a positive thing because it serves as a reminder of what not to do. Sometimes for some people. The bonfire incinerated all physical trace of my wedding, but the back-up file in my mind, though it has eroded and will continue to do so over time, will always exist.

This reminds me of sin, forgiveness and God. I suppose no one can calculate all the wrong they have done since birth. What we do know is that when God forgives us, He casts (our sin) them into the depths of the sea and remembers them no more. Isn’t that amazing? He won’t hold our past against us and His treatment of us isn’t clouded by memories of our past indiscretions. God has no retrospective reflection of our sin because His bonfire incinerates the file. There is no back-up. Hallelujah!

You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.

You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean. Micah 7:19.

The Message Bible

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