Time Away

I’m a part of a private online group whose members are all recovering from the vagaries of fundamentalist christianity. Today being Meme Monday meant there was a wonderfully long list of hilarity to lighten my spirits (which I sorely needed). Among them was this:


It made me laugh (and not cry, thankfully) because it’s true. When he’s not around, I’m happy.

‘He’ being my spouse.

I just got back from a week in Japan visiting my brother. Even though the inevitable sibling irritability broke out at a couple points, I had the time of my life. I felt free, natural, at home, confident. I was so happy in a way I cannot explain except with this: something inside me let go.

Now I’m back and already the cloud has descended again. He hasn’t even done anything yet. But I’m back to flipping myself off, humiliating myself in my head, feeling trapped, staring at my wrists, sleeping in too long and barely being able to fall asleep in the first place. It’s all back, and I am no longer free, and already I am losing that feeling.

I knew this would happen. While I was over there, I told myself to remember that I’d felt what I did. I knew I’d forget the feeling itself, but I’d need to remember that I felt it.

It was as clear as the blue sky: I need to leave him. I need to get out. This is toxic and wrong, all wrong – I need to leave.

I’m already back to doubting myself. Wondering if I have a purpose. If all of this is my fault. If it’s all in my head. Feeling too depleted to pick up a book or sit down at my computer or search for a steady job so I can financially separate myself. Too depleted for anything.

Like I said, he hasn’t even done anything yet. Which actually makes this harder. Why do I feel like this when he hasn’t actually been the usual critical abusive mess? I realized that verbal abuse can be a thing that doesn’t happen as much as a thing that does. When he doesn’t thank me; doesn’t communicate; doesn’t make shows of selflessness, empathy, or compromise; doesn’t express his emotions.

I have to keep reminding myself that verbal abuse doesn’t have to be all the time to be abuse. There are healthy people and bad incidents and forgiveness and working it out. Then there are unhealthy people and bad incidents that go beyond the threshold of a normal number. Even if sometimes there are good times, if it’s often enough, if it’s never resolved, if it keeps happening despite promises to change, if it beats you down until your soul is dying – then it’s abuse.

I need to leave him. Why can’t I work up the courage to do so?

I realized yes, we humans love what we know, the familiar. That’s why change is hard. But it’s not just some homeostasis instinct in us. It’s because familiarity and routine are an expression of love. Loving someone includes having that constancy. That’s why the promise to stick things out for the rest of your lives is such a huge expression of love.

Still, clearly I am dying little by little here. I don’t know why I’m so stuck. I try to move and it feels like I’m getting nowhere. Depression is a bog my mind is trapped in.

I want to escape. It’s just so hard to move.