Where to even begin.
I met my husband three years ago. I’ve gone through many life changes and have learned never to judge—I really wanted this non judgement from a partner. I can say we were both pretty broken at the time. Looking back now, he never really did woo me. He was more of a follower—I was in control. Which apparently felt good as I have had zero control over most of my life. He is more than 20 years my senior—and to me that spelled stability.
After being kicked out at 17 for losing my virginity, not being allowed to finish high school (or not knowing I had choices) and ultimately ending up homeless in Los Angeles, stability sounded nice.
I honestly didn’t notice our vast age difference at first but now I look at him and think he’s a creepy old man. My kids and I sleep in a different room.
He didn’t acknowledge our first anniversary. I talk about traveling, as we both used to and he says he just hates everywhere I want to go but he didn’t before.
I’ve gotten myself stuck again.
I have to be honest and say that his attitude and not helping has really pushed me to become a better person. I used to wait and hope for help and now I just do it. I meditate and teach my kids to as well. My daughter will grab a pillow and meditate when she feels stressed. I am more calm because I see him yell and get angry; I’m more patient because I see him intolerant. I think I was supposed to meet him and learn lessons, but for how long?
He threatened if I leave he will go for full custody of our child. I’ve wanted to move from here.
I’m miserable but I made a commitment. I did tell him recently if I had money I wouldn’t be here. We don’t really fight anymore. He will walk over and say “I’m horny” every once in a while. I suppose I’m supposed to be excited by that? I once asked him what part of me he found sexy. He got angry and told me to stop bothering him. He’ll text me he loves me occasionally. I just keep thinking I made a terrible mistake and can’t get out now. And with children involved and his threat.
So as of now is the apathetic roommate situation better than having angry, drunken, abusive people alone with my child? At least if I’m here, I hate to say it, I have control, seriously don’t like to control people. One friend told me to buck up and stop playing the victim. I’m really trying. I am choosing every day to smile and be happy. I’m enrolling in school for spring. I am finding ways to stay busy and be peaceful.
I am devoting everything to being the best mom and me I can possibly be.
Dear Caged In,
Thank you for your question.
As I type this, I am sitting at my desk looking out into a cold desolate landscape that resembles the planet Hoth from Star Wars—The Empire Strikes Back. The snow drifts are high and the temperatures, arctic. It is a debilitating environment, one that keeps me locked inside my home because going out seems too harsh and unwelcoming.
This is ok for one day but having chosen to live in a place like rural Maine where the temperatures are sure to drop again and again throughout the winter months, I must slowly start to wrap my mind around escaping the confines of my home and emerging out into the world no matter what the temperature.
No matter what the cost.
This is difficult for me as I do not take part in skiing or snowboarding, snowshoeing or igloo building. My circulation is bad so my fingers get cold and my cheeks become stone in the wind.
I am a human icicle on occasions like this. The cold running through my veins – rendering me chilly and immobile.
I have lots of reasons for staying inside.
My mind plays tricks on me – luring me into thinking that how I choose to spend my days inside is ok. How only having experienced the fresh air of the out of doors for 5 or so minutes is enough…but it is not. There must be a balance to this frigidity. One where I claim triumphant success over the whims of mother nature.
The moment where I say “Screw it, I am going outside.”
The boots go on. The giant parka zipped to the brim. The scarf. The hat. The gloves.
Mountaineers always say—there is never bad weather—just bad gear. And this is how I start the journey outward again.
This arctic cage of winter will not destroy my mind or esteem. I will become stronger as I work to fight its action to keep me in. I become more brave to its winds and ice.
And so must you, dear.
Your situation is your own arctic tundra—keeping you in, affecting your mind. While you are fighting against it there is a placation that is occurring too. Your husband creates the barrier and you and your freedom are frozen in the ice chamber that has become your love. You are swimming in an arctic pool of pain and regret.
But it does not own you.
You have the courage to be free and you will need to enlist some help.
So I ask you first: Who are the people in your life that act as proverbial boots, hats, gloves, and scarves. Who are your pieces that will protect you from the elements once you decide to leave? Call them in and get them ready—like a freight train—you are coming.
Like me in my own personal winter tundra, you must overcome the obstacles and get yourself outside.
Caged In my advice to you is this: Leave this cold and wretched place—this place where you cannot breath because the weight of the air lays heavy on your chest. The place where your children cannot be wild and free. Your contract is up. Your lesson has been learned. Start the process—slow at first but then steady as you pick up momentum. Your community surrounds you and want to help—no one wants to watch this suffering.
Fling the door open and hear the crunch of the snow.
The first step is always the hardest but once you gain your footing the rest will follow.
You will be able to protect your children no matter where or how things play out and because you are happier by starting anew—they will be too.
Set fear aside and lace up your boots. I bid you well on your journey.
May the force be with you.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
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