He had never been physically violent, but his cunning manipulation of words had left her nowhere to live inside her own mind.
She had to get away from him for a while. Her body and mind were both aching from built-up tension and she felt like a finely-set rat trap about to go off. It was early winter in the subtropics with cool nights and glorious clear warm days. The perfect time for camping out.
It felt so good to be out walking in the forest. Where she was headed was still on their property, but it seemed a world away from all the arguments. And what were the arguments about? She couldn’t even remember. All she knew was that he always woke up in a foul mood and blamed her for all the fights. “If only you could be more like so-and-so. She knows how to handle me”. She thought she mustn't have been pretty enough, clever enough, slim enough.
Climbing the mountain with camping gear and food for several days on her back was hard and slow, but with each step she felt she was becoming herself again - the woman she had known before he had filled her mind with his ideas of who she was.
Reaching the small clearing she dropped her heavy load. She was completely alone.
After setting up the tent, she did a quick "reccy" of the area. Just below her campsite she discovered a freshwater spring in one of the gullies. Finding running water so close to camp filled her with an almost religious feeling. A simple, wonderful feeling beyond words. Her life began to take on a quality like that pure flowing water. Everything seemed absolutely right, just as it should be.
Simple actions became meaningful. She slowed down. Her mind was still racing and crazy, but something new was happening - the chaos wasn't completely in control any more. She made a fire and cooked a simple meal of rice and vegetables with soy sauce. Then as darkness fell, she settled down inside the tent to read the book she had brought with her. It was Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", which was about Salem witch trials and was, apparently, an allegory to McCarthyism. A heavy number to read while camping out in the bush alone.
Living with him had been like one long witch trial and she didn't even know what the charges were. After a few days by herself on the mountainside, she knew she could not return to him. She moved to a place in town where her life took another major turn.