Hello. It’s Pledge Drive Week here at Captain Awkward Enterprises, the week where I rattle the tip jar and ask readers who are willing and able to contribute to keeping the lights on and the moderation queue running.
Ways you can contribute:
- With the help/goading of The Goat Lady, there is now a Patreon page. Monthly Paypal subscribers, you might want to pivot over here?
- Paypal springs eternal, as does Cash.me and Dwolla. Whatever’s convenient for you!
I really, really appreciate your support, as does the 33.333% of my brain capacity now occupied by planning a wedding.
And now, a question:
Dear Captain Awkward,
This is about leaving my husband. At the time of our marriage, I was dealing with a very serious health situation that had dragged on for seven years and at the time was likely to lead to death or at least a severe drop in ability to care for myself (all better now, thankfully!). We were clinging to each other so desperately and so tightly that neither of us realized the relationship had already run its course.
He was always a heavy drinker, and a little moody and easily offended, and if I hadn’t gotten sick we probably wouldn’t have lasted six months, let alone nearly a decade. Still, I think almost losing me broke him in some way, and I don’t want to be married to the man he is now.
When things are good, they are *good*, but most of the time they‘re only fake-good. As long as I’m complacent things are pleasant. If I’m not? He is quick to criticize me, calling me awful names. (How did I get to a point where that isn’t something that sends me running to the hills?) When he gets worked up about explaining or “discussing” something, he will keep me up until 3am – when we already agree. Worse, he’s upset at me for “not being engaged”. I do not function without sleep, and my medical condition is exacerbated by stress like whoa.
It’s like the release of stress from my getting better has exacerbated everything about him, and I have made myself so small, and so timid that I no longer recognize myself. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but since I woke up, I’ve used my words. I’ve modeled how I’d like to communicate. I’ve mentioned (and gotten) therapy. But because “nothing is wrong” and I’m “causing problems”, there is nothing he should be trying to fix. So even though it breaks my heart, I have to go. I know that. I know that he may love me, but his actions are not loving. I know that he may not be intending to abuse me, but it’s an abusive environment just the same. So I have to go. But I don’t want to. I still love him so completely and waking up next to him is golden.
Logically, I know I have to go for my own sanity. At the very least, I need to leave for a few months so I/we can get some distance and perspective. It is unsafe, mentally, for me to stay. But I can’t get past this desire to stay. So, Captain, how can I gird my loins and just pull the trigger?
First, read this poem. (It is NOT Love After Love, surprisingly! A NEW POEM!!!!)
Next, make a daydream about the place that you will live that’s all your own, where nobody talks to you That Way, where you finally get enough sleep.
Then, make a plan, the one involving money & paperwork & conversations with lawyers and figuring out what comes next. Do not discount safety in your planning. Abusive people often panic & escalate their behaviors when they sense that their victim might leave.
Then you go. You cut the cords as gently and as finally as you can. You say, “I’m leaving” and you can do it because in the important ways you’ve already left. The time for tearful negotiations and staying up all night to cry is over. You don’t lie to yourself or to him about how you’ll be friends someday.
After that, you grieve for the good times. You remind yourself that you tried your best and you forgive yourself for sometimes still wanting him. You remind yourself that he had choices in how he treated you. You let all the feelings in, the ones you’ve been keeping locked down, and you realize that they were your friends, even the anger, especially the anger.
You make room in your life for people who are kind to you. And less – none at all room for people who are not.
You let time do its work, and you heal.
Then you read this poem. (Spoiler: It’s Love After Love by Derek Walcott).
Readers: How did you build the bridge from “Deciding To Leave” to “Already Gone”?