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I got you in secret. My own apartment. It was my first big move to save myself. I was terrified. I’d never known anything else. I knew I needed to leave though. It was the only way I was going to stay intact. I spent so many days walking on eggshells. I never knew if I was going to be a trophy or a verbal punching bag. Looking back, I can still feel the weight I’d been carrying just fall away as I unlocked your door.

The space felt like a fortress. I could breathe. I was pleasantly surprised at the luck I had finding you. I agreed to you without ever seeing you. That was just a reminder of how desperate I was! However, you really were my first stroke of luck in what seemed like a very long time. Heck, you even had a view of the swimming pool with a balcony and enough room for just me. That was exactly what I wanted. What I needed.

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The year that followed was rough. Looking back, I honestly can’t believe that was me. It feels like ages ago. A whole different person, in fact. You heard lots of tears. I came in heartbroken. I broke my own heart multiple times learning to let go of the life I thought I deserved. You endured lots of exhaustion and doubt as I put myself through grad school. I was choosing an entirely different career path at the same time I planned my escape. At times, I wondered if I could do it. If I’d be any good.

However, you did hear a lot of laughs. My friends and my sister shared a lot of cocktails within your walls. We shared stories of each of our growing pains. We played games—good old-fashioned board games! We danced, watched The Bachelorette, and ate our weight in junk food. Thank God. I really needed those laughs and connections.

Eventually, the pain started to subside and my strength grew. There were a couple failed attempts in the dating world, that I’m sure you were cringing at, but I became a better version of me than I ever imagined.

Now, looking back, I have to chuckle. After four years, the corners and every nook and cranny you had to offer are filled with toys and little clothes from the incredible children who have become my own. I took down pictures of the truest love I wasn’t sure I’d find. But there it is! Proof, right there in many frozen moments the last couple of years. I can hear the laughter and feel the love bursting out from every fiber that’s held up incredibly under Cheeto hands, Wii tournaments,  Nerf wars, and hours of fetch with the dog.

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I no longer need your fortress. I’ve got a family and a table to fill somewhere else. I need a few more closets to hang those little clothes and finally organize all those toys. I’ve got a new kitchen that has room for two cooks and two dancers, occasionally four. I need a bigger wall for that stupid deer head. (I can absolutely say that’s a decoration I never saw coming for you. I’m sorry!)

However, I doubt there will ever be walls that mean quite what you have meant to me. Thanks for being my fortress. I’m strong now. I think I always was. I just needed you to show me. I hope whoever inherits you feels the safety and warmth you so faithfully offered. Coming home to you was coming home to myself.

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So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Whitney Kuhn

A 30-something wife, bonus mom, daughter, sister, school counselor, and friend. Navigating my way through the many, incredible blessings and learning opportunities life has given.

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