Mr. Always Right
August 15, 2017 2:15 AM   Subscribe

I just read this question and it basically mirrors my situation, minus the marriage. But I feel stupid because I still love parts of him and don't feel ready to leave although everyone is telling me to get the hell out. Help me deal with this situation in the best way possible and figure out the best course of action.

I need advice. I need concrete steps. We've lived together for several years. The question that I linked to is basically my boyfriend. Please read it as an extension of this post. He is always right because he thinks logically, according to him. Apparently I do not. I am almost always wrong. He gets into long rants when he is drunk and invariably they almost always end up turning into something I have done wrong. He outright told me last week that he does not respect me. I cringe when I tell other people about things in our relationship because I hear it and think, how did it get to this place? This is not us. But it is.

I work from home. I have a side project that I am working on for a large chunk of additional income. He is not happy about it. He calls it a "get rich quick scheme" and comes home angry every day that I mention anything about it. As a result I feel like I cannot focus on it as much as I want to. He says I am lazy and selfish. I feel like I am under his constant watch through our home security system and cannot leave to go work on this project without getting questions.

However, despite all of this, I do not feel ready to leave. I know logically that I should. I know this is not likely to get any better. It will get worse, as it has. But I feel trapped at the thought of trying to actually leave. We have a wonderful house. I love this house, I love this area, I love his family and our mutual friends. I lose all of that by leaving. I still love him but I do not love how he treats me in these moments which are getting more and more frequent. I love him but I am tired of this cycle. Of walking on eggshells and feeling like every little thing I do "wrong" will set him off.

I do not have a large support network. I have a supportive therapist. I have family who is somewhat supportive but not the best at showing it, and hard to rely on, in other states. I have a couple of my own friends here. Most importantly I feel like I have no place to go. I have an office here because I work from home. I have a bunch of furniture. I have this whole life that I've built with him and no idea how to start untangling it without becoming an absolute mess or being afraid that I'll end up in some shitty motel. Rent is expensive here and I can't afford a place on my own right now.

I have some plans of things I would like to do some day after leaving. I'd like to get a dog as an emotional support animal. I'd like to buy my own house in the next year or so - have a stable place to call home that I don't have to lose like I will be losing our house. I'd like to do some traveling to go visit family and friends and spend more time seeing people who I never see anymore. But I'm stuck on the actual leaving part. I don't feel ready. I don't know where to go or how to even start. I feel like my world will collapse if I leave.

I know this question is disjointed. I apologize. I need help figuring out possible steps, a concrete plan of action for everything involved in this. I feel stuck, both emotionally and logistically. Everyone is saying, just leave, get out, but I feel like I can't for both of these reasons. Most importantly, how to get 100% on board with leaving, as logically I know that is the right thing but emotionally I do not feel ready because we do still have good times together and I will miss the companionship and certain parts of him. Secondly, a plan of action, specific steps to take, suggestions, I am open to stories or anything anyone wants to share.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (33 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Years ago I was in a similar situation. I couldn't afford to leave, but I knew I had to get out. I want to be clear, behavior like this is likely to transition to violence. It will not get better. Start making a plan and preparing, funnel some money to the side (as much as you can without him noticing), make some new social connections, build a safety net and then jump just as soon as you possibly can.

(I should just leave the above, but I ended up leaving on foot. I loved my house, I loved my dogs, I loved my truck, but holy shit, I had to leave before he killed me. I really can get that bad much quicker than you might think. What I did was start "straighting up", putting things in rubbermaids that I really needed, I snuck those rubbermaids out of the house here and there while he was at work, I knew something bad was coming and I didn't end up getting most of my stuff, but I did get out with my life and I am doing more than ok and married to a partner and not a monster.)
posted by stormygrey at 2:56 AM on August 15, 2017 [35 favorites]

I'm really sorry that you are in this situation. I have not been in this specific situation, but I have been in projects that are large and overwhelming, and with no clue where to start or how to tackle them, e.g. run a marathon or complete a novel.

Think of this as project management. You have one goal: Get out of this relationship. To achieve this goal, you have specific milestones. You can break your milestones down into simple, easy steps. If you focus on this, the large task becomes much more manageable, much more bite-sized. Allow yourself time to finish this project. It's not an overnight thing. You are untangling yourself from a significant part of your identity and it will take time.

An example would be:

Milestone 1) Sort out financial matters and create financial cushion for your departure
1.a. Open new bank account that your bf does not know about
1.b. Ensure any correspondence is sent to a friend's address
1.c. Start saving $50/ week into new account for [X] weeks

Milestone 2) Change other correspondence to friend's address
2.a. Change address at doctor's
2.b. Change address at dentist

Milestone 3) Make travel plans with other people for after breakup
3.a. Contact Friend A
3.b. Contact Friend B

and so forth. I wish you all the best.
posted by moiraine at 2:57 AM on August 15, 2017 [18 favorites]

Stop loving him. Love yourself. It will be very, very, very painful, but it will be more interesting and real than what you have now. You deserve love. Please believe it.

We have a wonderful house. I love this house, I love this area, I love his family and our mutual friends. I lose all of that by leaving. I still love him but I do not love how he treats me in these moments which are getting more and more frequent. I love him but I am tired of this cycle. Of walking on eggshells and feeling like every little thing I do "wrong" will set him off.

It is awful to risk losing this, but you will lose it eventually, either by your hand now or his hand eventually. It will get worse and it won't get better.

My heart bleeds for you. Please think of this as an abusive situation, it definitely sounds like it, from the verbal discussions of your career not being good enough to the outright lack of "respect" to the being watched feeling. Lots of people understand what you're in right now and it's not unfixable.

If you want to rattle the bars of this situation, I would definitely be nothing but explicit with your shared friends and family about how he is treating you. In some cases families are able to exert some kind of social pressure that may make things better for you temporarily.

I would move out and see how that goes, really, if you can. Can you?
posted by benadryl at 2:59 AM on August 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

how to get 100% on board with leaving, as logically I know that is the right thing but emotionally I do not feel ready

Keep doing what you're doing, visualising the future.

See that house that you will live in. See your lovely dog. Picture yourself waking up and going through your whole day with no negativity, eating what you fancy for dinner, watching the TV that you like. Talking to your family on the phone. Going to bed at the time you want, with a book you like. Waking up the next morning, happy, and looking forward to life.

Picture it every day, until you get to the point where you think, I need this, and I need it soon. I need to start moving towards it now. And then hold tight, because it will be a rocky ride, but keep that visual in your mind. You'll get there.
posted by greenish at 3:05 AM on August 15, 2017 [20 favorites]

Hey, the first step is: be kind to yourself. You will leave when you're ready, and only you will know when that is. Here are some things you can do to prepare:

Are your finances separate? Do you have your own bank account? If so, great. Start saving money however you can. Don't tell your partner that you're doing this. If not, one of the first steps is to start getting those untangled and set up your own account. It also might be a good idea to create a new email address that your partner doesn't know about. Whenever you use that new account, open an incognito window in your browser and log in from there.

Second, start scanning craigslist and other real estate websites. Look for shared housing: living with a roommate makes rent much cheaper and it's not so lonely as moving out and living by yourself. Then look up storage units in your area. You can store your big stuff in there for a little while usually without breaking the bank. When you are feeling ready to actually start looking for a new place and need a phone number, you can get a cheap flip phone plus $15 of credit for $30 at Walmart.

Third, if you mostly go out to work on your one big project, get in the habit of going out more for more things. Is there a public library near you that you could go and work in sometimes? A park you can go for a walk in? If you're being recorded every time you leave the house, start creating a number of reasons why you leave, so if/when you need to go out and do errands related to leaving, it doesn't look like a new thing.

Fourth, start working on strengthening your social circle now. Has your partner isolated you from some of your friends by getting angry every time you go out and do things without him? It's not clear from your question, but it seems like it might be the case. If so, try reaching out to some of your old friends and start trying to re-connect with them.
posted by colfax at 3:07 AM on August 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

Here's one way to think of it: You don't have to be 100% on board with leaving. It feels like you should do, because it's such a big decision and there's so much of your heart and your past tangled up in it. But the reality is that it's really common, to the point of being the norm, to have some part of you that is sad and regretful about leaving.

The trick is to accept that part of you, without giving it a casting vote. That is the part of you that can see the good in your boyfriend no matter what he does, and remembers the good times, and wants to hold on to hope in any circumstances. It is fine to have part of you that feels these things, and indeed if you wait until no part of you feels these things you may never leave (although your life will be increasingly miserable). But it doesn't get to choose. You will honour that part of yourself by feeling sad and working through that sadness once you leave, not by letting it overrule the part of you that's making a rational decision.

See it in the same way that you'd see the part of you that goes "no, planes are scary!" before getting on a plane - that's fine, panicky internal voice, you feel how you feel, but you are an emotional reflex and not an expert and I'm still getting on that plane.

(I stayed for too long because I couldn't get myself 100% emotionally on board with leaving. I did not appreciate how emotionally messed up I was until I left, and what an impossible thing that was to ask of my messed-up mind. It was the mental equivalent of "I can't leave until I've won the lottery.")
posted by Catseye at 3:10 AM on August 15, 2017 [46 favorites]

In these situations I usually say, if a close, dear friend came to you and said this was her story, what would you tell her? How angry would you be on her behalf? How far would you go to help and encourage her to reclaim her life, put herself first, and start down the path that will lead away from tension and risk and anger and pain?

Why won't you do that for yourself?

If you have a supportive therapist, get him/her to advise you. Find one or two go-to, trustworthy friends and enlist their help. Get a different perspective- right now, you see yourself as a victim. There is an air of helplessness about your words. This must change. There is no greater good here. There is nothing to sacrifice yourself for.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:32 AM on August 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

He's emotionally abusing you. I've endured this sort of thing too, and it's not going to get any better. Stormygrey is right; it could escalate to physical violence. You need to make a safety plan, and do it secretly. Look for housing using incognito mode or Tor. Or at a public library or internet cafe. He might be monitoring your computer use at home with a keylogger.

If you have friends and family willing to help, reach out to them. You might need to leave in a hurry someday. Here is the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 .

This is serious. Emotional abuse can cause lasting damage and PTSD. The sooner you leave, the better. You deserve a partner who builds you up, not cuts you down.

(By the way, anyone who thinks they're being logical while drunk is a fool.)
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 3:46 AM on August 15, 2017 [10 favorites]

I'm concerned about this home security system, and what other monitoring he may have on you. What are the bounds of the system? What access does he have to your computer? Any chance he's got a keystroke logger? What about copies of your passwords, any chance he's checking your email at work? Clean your computer for keystroke loggers and other spyware, change your passwords, and don't leave your computer alone with him when you're logged into anything personal - at the very least, log out. If you normally have a ton of tabs open, leave the non-personal tabs open.

Also with the security system, start leaving the house more. It was really nice out and you wanted to take a walk. The library had a book you wanted. You needed to clear your head and get a coffee.

Definitely get your own bank account and start siphoning money off as much as you can without being noticed, with notices not coming to the house. Can you get mail at your office? What about at a friend's place?

Call the national domestic violence hotline and ask them to help you make a plan, both for safety and to get out. 1−800−799−7233. If there's a phone at your office, make the call from there.

Get out as quickly as you can. Once he finds out you are planning to leave, you will be in more danger than you already are. See if there are local movers who will help you get to your new place once you have that set up, and if it's possible you want to move during the day when he has something going on at work that he absolutely can't miss.

Good luck.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:54 AM on August 15, 2017 [17 favorites]

Hello, I'm you! Or rather, you're me, 12 years ago. I was not 100% on board with leaving either, because so often it was nice, and look at the nice house we have together and it's not even finished yet, do you really want to leave this nice kitchen behind? Where would you go, where would you even live?
But I left. Because he was always right, did not even respect me, was always putting me down in a thousand little ways. He was breaking me down, not helping me build myself up. Called me lazy, yes, and selfish. He did not cherish me. I felt the need to be cherished. You, too, deserve to be cherished.

Now every single day I'm glad because I left. I feel so much happier and stronger. I live in a house where I feel safe and welcome. I have a partner who respects me, who is happy and grateful that I want to be with him, and who cherishes me.

You don't need to be 100% ready to leave. Don't wait for that moment: it may never come. Your relationship is unhealthy and yes, abusive. You'll be better off on your own.

Others have given you really good practical advice. I just want to tell you that I have faith in you. You got this and we're all rooting for you.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:09 AM on August 15, 2017 [18 favorites]

This is without a doubt an abusive relationship. One of the things that makes abusive relationships so insidious is that the abuse undermines your ability to get out.

It is a measure of how kind and loving you are that you still love him even though he treats you very poorly. Please, show yourself as much or more love and compassion than you show him.

There is a note of disorientation and confusion running through your writing that is so familiar in questions like this. It's a protective mechanism called denial, where your brain keeps you from really fully taking in and understanding something where the truth is far too painful to bear. You can understand it, you can bear it, and you can change it. Please read Lundy Bancroft's book "Why Does He Do That", which is brilliant both in explaining what's going on with your abuser, but also very gently illuminating the dynamics that keep you stuck in relationship with him. It also has brilliant explanations of how to protect yourself and how to disengage.

You are a strong and capable woman (a career and a profitable side gig! Damn!) and you deserve to be treated far, far better than this. His controlling behavior and lack of respect are entirely, completely, wholly a reflection of his own shame, fear, self-doubt, and failure, and are NO reflection on your value or self-worth. Another book that can be helpful for getting your head and heart ready to end this is Steven Stosny's "Living And Loving After Betrayal". Even if your partner has not strayed romantically or sexually, he has betrayed you in the loving trust that should be the foundation of a healthy relationship. Stosny's book is all about how to shore yourself up, put the responsibility for your own self on your own shoulders, and stay clear about all the things that are NOT your responsibility but ONLY your partner's.

I feel you, friend. This is a brave question and you're in a heartbreakingly tough situation. You can make it, you can make it through. Take care.
posted by Sublimity at 4:21 AM on August 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

I've not been in your exact circumstances but I have been through shattering times and all I can offer is this: you will be amazed at what is possible once you stop holding on. Right now it clear to see what you will lose by leaving because it's right in front of you, but it's sort of like sitting in a room cluttered by hoarded stuff that bars the door. That stuff may be emotionally loaded, but as safe as it feels it is quite literally getting in your way and you need to clear a path through it in order to get through the door.

It is hard, and there will be mess and immense disruption for a time but - and I promise this backed with every memory of my experience - it will pass. You haven't left yet because you don't know how so this is the way you will learn. The clearing of that space will build the emotional muscle you will use to forge your new path.

The advice above to take small steps is excellent, make simple plans, don't face it all in one go right now, but eventually those small steps will build and build and the business of focusing will bring momentum. Do think about simple practicalities - if you don't have people to trust with altered addresses and whatnot make your changes online, have an online only accounting system. If it's discovered say it's for the project. Be brazen, foster and relish delicious ideas about your future , on your own terms. Breathe. Memail for support if it helps!
posted by freya_lamb at 4:31 AM on August 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

Can you start to work on your second project outside your home--library, coffee shop--a couple evenings a week or on the weekends? This would give you some uninterrupted me time, work time, and a way to begin making some of the suggested exit plans?
posted by Elsie at 4:36 AM on August 15, 2017

Oh, and if it helps - your relationship may be hard to leave because it feels like it's not all bad. But relationships are not worth having if something is fundamentally broken. Would a metaphor help with the mental shift? What if you had a gorgeous antique teapot passed down as a family heirloom that held just the right amount of tea and looked fab on the table, but its irreparably broken lid meant you got second degree burns every time you poured a cup? The advice there would be to retire it and find something equally, if differently, beautiful that also functioned in a manner that didn't cause you pain on a daily basis, and create a new, future heirloom. It's ok to mourn what is no longer working. And it's ok to move on.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:52 AM on August 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Here's a thought: he's unhappy about your side project, and actively trying to undermine it... because it brings in a good chunk of money, which he fears may make you independent from him, and allow you to leave him.
He may in fact be right this time!
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:01 AM on August 15, 2017 [27 favorites]

What if you just planned one of those holidays you mentioned right now? What if you went to visit someone for a little bit? I think you'd find the other things easier to contemplate just from having a few nights away in a different environment. You don't need anymore reason
to visit a friend other than 'because I want to'.

If it's too much to leave it all in one go, just leave for now. Go somewhere for a bit and see how you feel being there.

People above raise valid points about safety, preparedness etc and I'm not dismissing those. What I'm trying to do is give you a way of selling the first step to yourself.

(If your experience is anything like mine once you're out you'll realise there's nothing there worth going back to and you never do.)
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:39 AM on August 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Also one more thing: "I do not have a large support network. "

You do now! MeFites assemble. If you need support during this time, even if it's just sending a stream-of-consciousness memail about your concerns, I would be glad to be there for you, as I'm sure others here would.
posted by greenish at 5:53 AM on August 15, 2017 [64 favorites]

He's likely to hate your working outside. Whatever your escape plan is, you probably will need to work on it secretly. I highly recommend Lundy Bancroft's work on abusive men - you can get the books as PDFs and ebooks. Memail me if you'd like copies sent to you so you can read them.

I opened an email account with a completely different name, after checking my laptop for key loggers etc, and also redid all my passwords and upgraded security on them. Then I also opened another bank account he didn't know anything about and started squirrelling what money I could away in it, so that when I finally got free, I had enough money to feed my kids at least and pay for some legal advice.

Reach out to people quietly. It's very normal to be isolated. I was convinced I had maybe 1-2 people in my corner and that I and my kids would be abandoned and shamed if I left my husband. Two years later, I have a wider and deeper circle of good friends, reconnected to old friends and family, and the only people who ditched us turned out to be people who are cruel or shallow.

When you've been living with cruelty up close for so long, you expect it everywhere, but I promise you there is a lot of kindness out there. You are a kind and hardworking person with a lot to offer, or your boyfriend would not be working so hard to isolate and keep you bound to him. It's a weird paradox - you're not worthless, so he has to convince you that you are worthless so he can get away with offering you an unhealthy relationship.

It gets better, it gets so much better.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:08 AM on August 15, 2017 [29 favorites]

You might never feel 100% ready to leave. Or, by the time you are 100% ready, you might be in a much worse situation. You know things will get worse. You're starting to prepare now just by thinking about things. So keep doing that but take it further. Start making the plans to actually leave. Open up your own bank account if you don't already have one and start saving. Start looking at where you could go and what you can afford. Look for rooms to rent in shared houses. Start spending more time with your friends separately to him. Talk more with your friends and family on the phone and tell them what's going on with you. I'm guessing they don't know just how bad it is or they'd be urging you to leave. Stop depending on him for anything you can--don't go to him for anything emotional, go to your friends. Anything you might want to tell him about, tell your friends and family instead. And if -anyone- tries to talk you into staying with him, stop reaching out to that person and do not listen to them.
posted by Polychrome at 6:14 AM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Everyone, but especially dorothyisunderwood, speaks truth.

Hey! Didn't you just join a gym, yoga, or martial arts studio? Gets you out of the house, doesn't it l? (pssst, kundalini yoga *makes thumbs up gesture*)

Yep. Get all the devices wiped and checked.

As a first step, go to your local library without your devices, sign up for a library card if you don't have one. Use their computers. Among other things, create an email (and fb, although it's against their terms of service *cough*) under an entirely fake name. Don't login to this private email from your home devices until you have everything including the router checked, or just get your phone wiped and checked, only use that with wifi turned off to login to your entirely private new email. Use private browsing on your phone only over your cellular network. You might not need your fake email and fb, but you have it if you need it. Put two step authentication on a new, alternate email that is a variation of your name. Only login to that via your clean device over a cellular network. Use private browsing and your secured phone to open a new private bank account, find an apartment, consolidate your support network, and hire movers. Viola, now you have privacy! Go outside if you are talking about him or your plans to leave. It's that simple. Make a plan, and stick to it.

I lost everything in a metaphorical fire like this more than once. I swear it's not the end of the world, it's just stuff. The sooner you get out, the sooner your side project is successful and you make more money. You're not married! You can walk out the door any time! It's just stuff!! Now, go!
posted by jbenben at 6:42 AM on August 15, 2017 [12 favorites]

Other people have mentioned the practical steps, as well as the emotional steps, but I wanted to let you know that your question made me cry at work.

30 years ago, my mother could have written this question, though she would have done it in Chinese. My father did not respect her. She was always wrong. He was always right, because he used logical and rational. Like your boyfriend, my father would get on long rants, and say he did not respect her because she was not logical and rational like him. Over the course of several years, his frustration would become physical, especially when he realized she was starting not to respect him, and particularly once money troubles entered the picture. He would hit her and choke her and punch her and always, always find a way to rationalize it afterwards. Because he was logical. Because he was rational.

And yet, my mother didn't feel ready to leave him, in part because she loved him, and in part because he kept her financially dependent on him. His attitude towards her small jewelry business was exactly the same as your boyfriend's. When she finally got a job outside the house, as a teller at a bank, he was endlessly dismissive.

My mother stayed with him, just sort of staying afloat. 30 years later, he had an emotional affair with her best friend who he did ""respect"", which destroyed my mother emotionally and physically. Her mental health is in ruins. But she is still with him, because at this point, even though the love is gone, walking away from him would mean giving up the financial security she has worked her whole life for. Now, every time my mother calls me, in tears because of some fresh humiliation that he has inflicted on her or some additional thing that has happened to destabilize her emotionally, I think about how much I wish she would have walked away from him 30 years ago, when he first started to disrespect her, even if it meant that neither my sister nor I had ever been born.

Will your boyfriend's treatment of you escalate to abuse, like what happened with my parents? Maybe. Maybe not.

But I wanted to let you know that the only thing that you may never feel ready to leave him. It doesn't mean you should stay.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:46 AM on August 15, 2017 [29 favorites]

though not necessarily easy to find or make, you can always come by new friends and a new home (as well as furniture). this is true of relationships too. you can be sure of that.

now your life, on the other hand – well you just get one of those.
your happiness, mental health, as well as physical wellbeing - these are the things *you* gotta take care of. this guy isn't supporting that. in fact, i'd say he is doing quite the opposite.

make a plan, then go out and do it. you're gonna have to be one step ahead of him. he's been working on caging you in little by little, and its gonna take some work to get out of there.
you can do it, i'm sure of it.
posted by speakeasy at 7:06 AM on August 15, 2017

Breathe. One step at a time.

Here's a page about the difficulties in separating from a bad relationship, and how to proceed.

Free legal help may be available.

A divorce lawyer isn't just a suit. The right person may be able to help you with these nuts-and-bolts separation issues, not just the legal process. Or refer you to someone who can.

The point is, there's more help out there than you may be aware of.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:29 AM on August 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

The idea of being 100% on board is tough. It essentially allows 10% of you to control the other 90%. And no relationship is 100% awful.

Here is one comment I wrote in the past about what it took me to leave a bad relationship.
posted by salvia at 7:35 AM on August 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm sorry, this is heart wrenching.

What if instead of leaving, you take that trip to see a trusted friend or family member. Plan a long enough time away to get some perspective, say, 2-3 weeks. Minimize contact during that time. Be frank with your friend about what's going on. Maybe that space will give you the clarity to act?
posted by latkes at 7:50 AM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't have a lot more to add, but I am rooting for you. I left my ex-husband after 7 years of emotional (and in a couple of cases, physical) abuse. It was really hard and scary, but ultimately the best decision I have ever made. I had a friend who was going to travel for a month and needed someone to watch her house, so I was able to use that as an excuse to extricate myself from our apartment and make a plan. That time away from him was what I needed to finally decide to leave him once and for all.

Above all, be strong and true to YOU. It will be hard, it will suck, you will cry and feel like you've made a terrible mistake. Do not give up. Life is so, so, SO much better on the other side. You can do it.
posted by GoldenEel at 10:01 AM on August 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

You deserve to be happy, and you will not be happy if you stay -- even if he never lays a hand on you -- because he doesn't respect you, and there is nothing more soul-sucking than living with that lack of respect every single day.

You're not 100% on board with leaving because the unknown is freaking scary. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, right? No, no, a thousand times NO. When it comes to your one precious life, that's a false choice. Just because the unknown is scary doesn't make it a devil. It's really hard to see this right now, but your choice is actually between the devil you know and infinite possibilities for happiness.

How do you feel when you think about the choice in those terms? You can have the life that you imagine for yourself, but not if you cling to the devil you know.

Once you start taking the small steps, as you start clawing back the tiny pieces of your self-esteem that he has chipped away over the years, you might have a moment where the metaphorical looking glass breaks or Morpheus hands you a red pill or whatever, and all his abusive behavior becomes crystal clear to you, and whatever remaining love you have for him starts to dissipate like a fog.

But until that moment arrives (or even if it never arrives), and even if you are not yet to the point where you are ready to label his behavior as abuse, this internet stranger is here to tell you that it is still ok to leave. It can be so, so easy to rationalize staying when there's no physical abuse, but being unhappy is reason enough to leave. Because you deserve to be happy.

Come back and re-read this thread whenever you need clarity or validation. There's some scary stuff ahead, but it really, really will get better. So much better. You are strong and smart and tough and you can do this.
posted by somanyamys at 10:06 AM on August 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

He outright told me last week that he does not respect me.

Then there's no saving it, and it will never get better, only worse.

We have a wonderful house. I love this house, I love this area, I love his family and our mutual friends. I lose all of that by leaving.

You can still live in the area, you can still have the same friends, so it is only his family you might lose (not will, but might) and you will have to lose that house (unless he leaves; who owns it?) Leaving doesn't mean disappearing from everything in your life; it just means deciding to move out, telling friends and family and him that you're moving out, asking for help from friends to move out, and moving out.

Of course, if you are financially dependent on him, that that stops you until you get money. That means waiting until your big project pays off, or getting a regular day job. Even if you have to move into a lousy cheap apartment today, you can do better a year from now.
posted by davejay at 12:05 PM on August 15, 2017

Oh, and if it helps: telling friends and family "[person] and I are no longer seeing each other, but we are going to do our best to remain civil" rarely if ever gets a response other than "oh, I'm sorry to hear that" (or in your case, given that friends are urging you to leave, "oh, thank goodness!") -- so even though it feels high stakes right now (that you might lose all your friends and have to move far, far away) that's not actually the case.

One last thing: if someone tells you they no longer respect you, but they aren't breaking up with you and they aren't working to fix it...then they're basically waiting for you to leave, and are not willing (or brave enough) to break it off themselves. Something to think about.
posted by davejay at 12:08 PM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, nearly forgot: call it a separation. Let him know you need time away from him because you love him, but his lack of respect for you is a real problem for you. Tell him -- and yourself -- that if you're apart for a while, you'll get some perspective and see how you really feel. That will (a) give you a chance to get that perspective -- remember that things almost always seem worse than they actually turn out to be! -- and (b) make it seem less "final" when you are leaving, to get over that "emotionally I do not feel ready because we do still have good times together and I will miss the companionship and certain parts of him" thing.
posted by davejay at 12:12 PM on August 15, 2017

Staying with him seems easier than leaving right now. It will get harder and harder. The longer you stay, the more bad things will happen, the harder it will be to convince yourself that staying is an acceptable choice. You will begin to use all of your energy fighting to surpress your own instincts for survival and self-protection.

Leaving seems hard. It will get easier and easier. As many others suggested above, I say take small steps towards your goals of a stable peaceful safe home for yourself. Visualize yourself living happily and successfully in it. This sounds hokey but it works, try asking for what you want out loud, sometime when you are in a safe place that he can't observe or eavesdrop on you. You will see that life will present you with opportunities and gifts to help you get out. Things will begin to fall into place once you put just one foot on the path.

You can do this. It will work out and you come out on the other side stronger and happier than you ever thought possible. I promise.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:31 PM on August 15, 2017

You don't have to be 100% on-board with such a big change. Hardly anyone ever is, even if the change is completely positive. Sometimes, when I know I need to do something but I also know there's some strong emotion that's likely to get in the way at the moment, I do what I call putting myself into receivership. I take the decision and then I treat it as if it were made by somebody else and I don't have the power to change it. When the moment comes, I can get upset, I can feel all these impulses, but, nope! I can't change my mind. I just have to carry through.

It will be hard, but there will come a moment when you look around at your own place and realize what it feels like to be safe in your own home and you won't believe how amazing it will feel.
posted by praemunire at 3:38 PM on August 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

There is so much great advice above.
I left a terrible marriage and it took me a long time to work up the courage. I ended up leaving because I was more scared of staying than leaving and being totally fucked. But as it turned out, I wasn't totally fucked. I had people come through for me. I didn't really tell people everything that happened, I'm sure they would have helped even more if I did. He hit me a few months before I left.
One thing that really gives me so much hope for you is that you can imagine this wonderful life without him. I couldn't do that. I had no idea what my life would be after I left. I didn't have any hopes and dreams left. Everything you want is achievable and it will make you so happy. You deserve that and so much more.
The thought of leaving is the scariest part and everything after that is a relief, even if it's difficult.
I'm married now to an incredible man, my life feels like a dream and I feel so lucky to have what I have now.

I don't have much but I would be more than happy to give you a little bit of money towards your dream life and I'm definitely here if you need to talk or want someone to listen to you. Memail any time.
YOU CAN DO THIS. You're not alone. We're all here for you.
posted by shesbenevolent at 1:40 PM on August 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

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