(Trial) Separation Anxiety
December 2, 2021 11:44 AM   Subscribe

My husband is not aware, but we're about to embark on a trial(?) separation as we work through some things. We Need Therapy. He really doesn't want to go. I've heard it's not good to go to couples counseling when there's an abusive situation. And this is definitely turning into one. I don't know how to pull back or how to leave open the possibility of reconciliation if/when I move out. Basically, is this even worth saving? Can I save it? Can I alone save it without him trying at all? I know you can't answer, but... can you answer?

-- we rent. We hoard. We ignore that we hoard. My husband claims that we don't hoard, that we recycle, that we need to stack pizza boxes in what would otherwise be our dining room in order to save the environment. I don't care about the environment since I don't think styrofoam cups are recyclable and that the landfill we've created in our home is unsafe.

My husband saves all clothes so they can be donated, even stained and torn clothes that cannot, in fact, be donated, that will be thrown away anyways. That's my fault, for staining and ripping clothes. These are also kept in the landfill that is our dining room.

There are also many things -- DVDs, wedding decor (we've been married for almost five years) that live in this landfill. My husband is going to sell them really, any day now, they're valuable and cannot be trashed or donated!

Two weeks ago, our apartment management company came and did an inspection with plenty of notice. We, being self-diagnosed hoarders, didn't do anything. They gave us what amounts to a written reprimand, saying we needed to clean up as it's a safety and fire hazard and that they'll be by (today!)

This sparked several arguments: apparently this is all actually my fault, the mini landfill is not a problem, and my husband doesn't see why he should have to pay for my mistake. (We're married, bro.) I agreed to take the blame for everything, that it's all my fault, can we please just address this?

-- I cleaned. I threw things away. I said the environment can go hang until we pass the inspection. We need to literally get our own house in order, like, actually. First my husband grudgingly agreed. Then he got upset as I threw trash away. Then he threatened to take away my hands if I touched one more of his things. According to him, I'm just acting out of anxiety and not being rational about this (like he is, apparently). I started to justify everything I did, even dusting the bookshelves and reorganizing the books.

-- I am mostly not afraid of being physically hurt because due to my own anger issues and background of being abused as a child, the running "joke" is that I'd be more likely to be the violent one. He's got a hundred pounds on me and is a full head higher. If he hits me, I'll stay hit. He won't hit me. He won't. Right?
Surely I'd be the one to hit him instead. We both have agreed that basically, if we think we'd hurt the other, then the potential aggressor should leave. So one of us should leave. And he won't.

-- he says the only reason we got married is because I agreed we could have kids. He doesn't want to take care of any kids. He doesn't want me to quit my job. He wants us to hand the hypothetical child(ren) to my father (didn't offer, won't do it) or his mother (no) to basically raise.

One of the many reasons I didn't want to have kids is I don't want to be an abusive parent or bring them into an abusive household. Sooooo, yeah.

I'm wasting his thirties with this. If he wants kids, he needs to go and start over. (I think he'd be a terrible dad, but that's me.)

-- we don't even have any pets. I didn't want to bring a cat or a goldfish or anything into the landfill. It would be down to me to take care of any animal.

-- he has erectile dysfunction that he doesn't think will affect our having children. I disagree. This is my fault for being too sexually aggressive, sexually submissive, available, unavailable, able to have an orgasm. I honestly think he might be asexual, which isn't exactly here nor there but kind of ties into the next point.

-- I've had polyamorous relationships in the past. He wants this to be an open relationship. He initially brought this up when he was in graduate school, where I'd encouraged him to focus on his studies. We tried it. He didn't have great success. I tried to be supportive, even talked to a couple of the women he was interested in to hype him up. The fact that this failed means I was not being supportive enough. The fact that I had a brief relationship when we first opened our relationship means I lose all arguments about this ever. I keep offering to go back in time and not having a month with this other person if he'll just shut up about my being the fact that he can't seduce anyone else.

-- I have two jobs. He has half of one. He wants me to quit my second job so we can spend more time together. He is always home when I'm home. Especially in this current global health state, I have no reason to leave the house. I'm not allowed to go to the store, I'm not to be trusted, I don't buy the right things. I'm just supposed to sit on the broken couch and be pretty, I guess. (See points on hoarding for why the couch is broken and sexual dysfunction for why I don't want to just sit and be pretty.)

-- I am not being kind about this any more. All of this. I am at the end of my rope. I am at the end of the frayed ends of my rope. I want to make this work out of inertia more than anything else. I was already looking at possible other apartments for us after we got the inspection notice. After he threatened me, I applied for an apartment for myself.

He doesn't know I have a new apartment waiting for me. I'll get the keys in the 15th. I don't want to move out, don't want to tell him before Christmas with our family, all the events around it. My family loves him because I love him; his family tolerates me because he tolerates me. I can't deal with them on top of everything else.

We're not still having sex because that would imply we were having sex. I've been a nervous wreck since we got the inspection notice, so any mood change is unfortunately expected. I can keep this from him which I think I have to do right now to stay safe. Part of me doesn't want to feel afraid of him. Surely, he'd understand, right? He can't want me around like this, right?

He wouldn't actually hit me, right?

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (72 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
One of your questions has an answer: you can't save it alone without him trying too.

I'm really glad you're preparing a way to get out safely, and I think you are making the right call to do it secretly. You have got to put your own safety ahead of your hope for reconciliation.

This is a scary post and I would urge you to consider leaving sooner too. Sure, answering or not-answering family questions at Christmas would be fraught. But maybe it would be nice to have holidays with just your side of the family too?
posted by february at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2021 [52 favorites]

So--he lives in trash, his dick doesn't work, HE doesn't work, he expects you to find girlfriends for him yet is enraged if you find another partner, and the future of your relationship involves fighting over imaginary children and avoiding any sort of realistic loving addition to your family, such as... a hamster. Oh, and it's strongly implied that he's threatened to hit you.

I imagine other people will have better advice on safety, but in terms of justification, yes, go ahead and leave. And DIVORCE!
posted by kingdead at 12:03 PM on December 2, 2021 [87 favorites]

Go, go, go. I'm not gonna address the relationship stuff; the relationship is beyond repair. Right now you need to make yourself safe, and that means leaving.

It's great that you've set up the apartment. Do you have somewhere else you could go now until the 15th?

Have you made your bank account safe from him?

Have you made your personal accounts -- email, social media, other technology, bills in your name, etc. -- safe from him? Are the passwords new, and ones he doesn't know and can't guess?

Where are your 10 or 20 most treasured possessions and your hard-copy personal documents like passport or birth certificate? Where are your favorite clothes and household possessions? If you haven't already, start making lists of every item you want to take with you. It's okay to jettison a lot of stuff. Narrow it down to your favorites, the things you'll really treasure going forward.

If you have to wait until the 15th, then so be it. But no, you're not spending the holidays with this person, and you don't have to answer any questions now, on the holidays, or after the holidays.

Make yourself safe.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:03 PM on December 2, 2021 [107 favorites]

Basically, is this even worth saving?
Can I save it?
Can I alone save it without him trying at all?
I know you can't answer, but... can you answer?

You're so unhappy. Please, please save yourself. GO
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 12:06 PM on December 2, 2021 [70 favorites]

My family loves him because I love him

From this, it sounds like your family loves and cares about you. Is that true? If you tell them what’s going on, will they support you? Wouldn’t it be better to have the holidays with your family, without him? Or if your family doesn’t support you, with friends?

You’re miserable - I promise you will be happier without him. Can you leave sooner than the 15th, and stay with family/friends until you can move in to your new apartment?
posted by insectosaurus at 12:13 PM on December 2, 2021 [15 favorites]

You would be justified in leaving if this situation were even 1% as terrible as it is. Please lock down your accounts, take what you can’t live without, and go. He can save the pizza boxes; you save yourself.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:14 PM on December 2, 2021 [30 favorites]

I want to make this work out of inertia more than anything else.

I think you want a loving functional relationship. This is not that relationship. This will never be that relationship. This person will not become the partner that you can have a loving functional relationship with, because he is neither loving, nor functional. He is a controlling person with mental health issues that you cannot solve. And you are starting to become afraid of what he might do.

Leave as soon as possible. Do not tell him that you are leaving.
posted by Thella at 12:15 PM on December 2, 2021 [38 favorites]

Man I'm sorry you're going through this, but I'm so glad you're taking an anxiety-inducing leap for yourself, for your life, for your future. You're doing the right thing and I'm sure nobody here is going to tell you to stay and work it out, because from what you've said, nobody should stay in that situation and try to work it out. Nobody deserves to be in a relationship with someone who acts like this and treats you like this.
Remember this: you do not need to justify making this decision for yourself to him (or the neighbors, or any family, or anyone). You don't need to explain to him why or what or how. Any justifying you do would serve as an opening for him to attempt to manipulate you into staying.
Don't explain. Just leave. No notice required to him.
I'm sorry this is happening to you, but I am so proud of you for coming home to yourself. You are so brave.
posted by erattacorrige at 12:18 PM on December 2, 2021 [10 favorites]

Basically, is this even worth saving?

No. There does not appear to be anything positive here to save.

Can I save it?

No. Also, I'm not sure (other than sunk costs) why you want to.

Can I alone save it without him trying at all?

No absolutely not. I might not be right about the answers I've given above but I am definitely right about this one.

I know you can't answer, but... can you answer?

It's Ask, so I'm going to go for yes.

Please leave.

The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when you are in the process of leaving, so it is better to do it as safely and as soon as you can. Do you have any friend or acquaintance that can help you leave sooner? Reach out to someone you think would be trustworthy. If you were my colleague, former colleague, friend, former acquaintance I would see what I could do to help you leave.
posted by plonkee at 12:19 PM on December 2, 2021 [29 favorites]

You are getting lots of tremendous advice here. I just want to chime in - and I'm sure many others here have learned the hard way, just like I have, that this is true: there are better things on the other side. There is so, so much hope for you to live and build the life that you want and deserve. You will be okay.
posted by neutralhydrogen at 12:24 PM on December 2, 2021 [23 favorites]

OMG OMG OMG, please get out ASAP after doing the careful and wise preparation suggested by others above.

Can I alone save it without him trying at all?

I tried that approach; didn't work for me. I stayed way too long and that was with a man who did not have a mental illness like hoarding.

Please note: I have two or three separate diagnoses so I'm not saying you need to leave because of his illness. You need to leave for many reasons, including:

I'm not allowed to go to the store, I'm not to be trusted, I don't buy the right things. I'm just supposed to sit on the broken couch and be pretty, I guess.

You don't need to be nice about this or generous or understanding or thoughtful. Like, that would all be great but maybe you don't have the spoons for all that. Take care of yourself and please, do not attempt to rely on inertia to somehow fix this for you. Inertia doesn't fix shit.

This is the only December 2, 2021 that you will ever get. That is true for every passing day. How much more of your life do you want to give up to this guy who makes you miserable? You have a new apartment and a new life waiting for you effective the 15th. Why waste any moment of that trying to fix something that's just not going to work for you no matter what your partner claims?

I won't lie: Leaving is hard but is so worth it. Every day I eat exactly what I want to eat, clean or not as I chose, and spend my time the way I want to spend it. Sounds pretty great, right? It is, I promise.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:27 PM on December 2, 2021 [28 favorites]

I've heard it's not good to go to couples counseling when there's an abusive situation. And this is definitely turning into one.

It's not turning into to one. It already is an abusive relationship, even without the hitting.

Can you do a free consult with a lawyer so you can get a sense of what the divorce proceeds will look like and you can ensure you are protecting your rights when moving out?

You can call the hotline (1.800.799.7233) and they might be able to connect you to resources about putting together a plan for leaving.

Listen to your gut, reach out to others, get the help and support you need. You can do this.
posted by skunk pig at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2021 [34 favorites]

Also: Kudos to you for lining up the new apartment. That is awesome sauce! If there is any way you can enlist the support of friends/family to get moved out quickly while he is gone (maybe send him off to your family for a full day of activities while friends help you move out)? Do not try to discuss this move in advance; that would not be safe. Take care. We are all rooting for you!
posted by Bella Donna at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2021 [17 favorites]

If you don't know if he would actually hit you, there's no way I (or anyone else here) can know. "Then he threatened to take away my hands if I touched one more of his things." is especially worrying. But in a more general sense, whether or not a sense of fear is well-grounded is irrelevant. Living in constant fear of violence, for whatever reason, is no way to live. Home and marriage should be a refuge, not a site of stress and worry.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:30 PM on December 2, 2021 [12 favorites]

Hoarding alone can be incredibly unsafe and there doesn't appear to be much evidence of successful treatments for hoarding. You would be completely in the right to leave based off hoarding issues alone. Hoarders constantly invade any space you have. You retreat, they take up more space. You retreat some more, they take more space. And you can't invite company over because the hoarder has made your shared living situation unsustainable.

The more you stay in this relationship, the more chances you're delaying a better life.
posted by DetriusXii at 12:31 PM on December 2, 2021 [8 favorites]

You cannot fix this, you need to go, and more importantly you will actually feel so so so much incredibly better once the going is over with.

Honestly, just let the chips fall where they may with the apartment. I'd actually say to do whatever and then go to management privately and say hey, I know this isn't your problem but I am in a bad situation and I am working on leaving so you aren't going to have to deal with me much longer.

Look, I have no idea if he's going to hit you, harm you, find ways to make this whole thing more miserable for you, but it is probably safer to assume that it is a possibility and you need to be prepared for him to try. But it will all be less fraught if you don't take what will likely be extensive emotional bait he will be throwing around to try to excuse escalation - once you start leaving, keep putting one foot in front of the other and de-prioritize solving his problems for him. He is no longer your project to fix, only you are your project now.

I'm sorry, this all sucks, but it will get better. You will realize in a few months or even weeks that all the questions you're asking are largely moot. This isn't fixable.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:33 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

this is terrifying to read. i can't imagine LIVING it.

do not quit any of your jobs. you need the monetary support to disentangle yourself from this situation.

i get the sense that you're asking whether he'd hit you because you know the answer: he would hit you and the right circumstances just haven't come up yet. but he will. dude is showing the classic warning signs: isolating you, blaming you, gaslighting the shit out of you.

it's time to go. now.
posted by hollisimo at 12:34 PM on December 2, 2021 [43 favorites]

If you have to ask whether or not he’ll hit you, it’s already too dangerous to stay.

So many of us swim in a cultural narrative where love always wins and effort triumphs over all and dysfunctional men are reformed by the love of a devoted partner. I was in my 30s before I realized that effort cannot save every situation. You owe it to yourself to leave and build a better life without someone who cannot see your worth. The world is full of men who will.
posted by corey flood at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2021 [21 favorites]

I've heard it's not good to go to couples counseling when there's an abusive situation.

The reason you've heard this is because couples counseling only works when all involved parties at least agree that 1) change needs to happen and 2) they're willing to work towards that change, even if there's no agreement yet on how that's going to happen. Based on what you've written, it's beyond the tiniest shred of any doubt that your husband is not interested in changing anything.

So forget couples counseling and find a therapist for yourself -- after you've gotten out, as others have urged. Your husband is extremely unwell and needs a lot of professional help, but it is no longer your obligation at this point to get him that help. Your only obligation will be to take care of yourself and get to a safe, stable enough space (psychologically and literally) to start recovering from this nightmare of a marriage.
posted by obliterati at 12:41 PM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

Can I alone save it without him trying at all?

I didn't read the rest of your question because the answer is NO. The answer to this will always be no.

Oh. I... read the rest. Please, go. Please go now. Like other people said, if you think he might hit you, listen to yourself.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:44 PM on December 2, 2021 [19 favorites]

If telling yourself that there's a chance of salvaging this relationship helps you leave, you can keep telling yourself that (until you leave). But there is absolutely no other reason to tell yourself this. You certainly don't sound like you want to salvage it or truly believe that it can be.

Do whatever it takes to get out and stay out. Be prepared for him to say he wants you back (like a toddler wants a toy that's been taken away). Don't believe him; he hasn't earned your trust, quite the opposite. Build a life without him and when you have built it well you can ask yourself if you really want him back (on your terms, not his). I frankly doubt you will, and I don't see him living up to your terms even if you did at that point.

Hugs from MeFi, and stay strong.
posted by rikschell at 12:50 PM on December 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

N-thing that you should GO
posted by arrmatie at 12:56 PM on December 2, 2021 [5 favorites]

The Hotline is staffed with trained advocates who can assist with safety planning and resources. Their national phone number in the U.S. is 1-800-799-SAFE(7233). They also have a text line - you can text START to 88788 - and a chat function on their website. These resources are available 24/7.

A list of additional hotlines and resources can be found on the NCADV website.
posted by panther of the pyrenees at 12:57 PM on December 2, 2021 [11 favorites]

I think you've gotten a ton of good advice already, but I just want to point out that our recycling company considers pizza boxes (due to the pizza grease) as something that cannot be recycled, and should be trashed. It's one of their specific examples. So you are not saving the earth by saving a bunch of old pizza boxes.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:58 PM on December 2, 2021 [12 favorites]

Coming back in to say - you already know the answers to all of your questions, which is why you have the apartment lined up. But maybe you're also feeling stuck, and leaving is so hard - staying is easier, which has a certain (miserable) appeal. So maybe you're still asking because what if one of us has a magical solution that won't be as hard as upending everything? Instead, let our collective sympathy and urging that you go be enough to propel you through the inertia.

The going is going to be hard, but afterwards will be so much better.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 1:00 PM on December 2, 2021 [16 favorites]

Many years ago now I was in an emotionally abusive relationship wherein I was eventually hit on numerous occasions. The dynamics were broadly similar to what you describe, though a lot of the specifics were different. I think your situation sounds more dangerous than mine was; my long-term safety was not at issue, and yours may be.

You've got a lot of good advice here, consensus good advice. The only thing I wanted to add from experience is you are going to feel so much relief, so much greater ability to breathe, after you leave. Happiness, healing, fulfillment, all that stuff is down the road, but just on the other side of the door you'll be able breathe again.

Please come back and update us on your progress, if you feel open to it.
posted by kensington314 at 1:09 PM on December 2, 2021 [10 favorites]

I couldn't even read all the way through your question. No, no, no. No couples therapy, no making it into a "trial", no pinning your hopes on reconciliation. You are so incredibly far beyond that. Put your energy into your jobs, and your new place, and your health and safety, and on rebuilding your life. There are better days ahead.
posted by anderjen at 1:11 PM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

I am so sorry you are going through this, but big props to you for getting that apartment and making a plan. Now stick with the plan. I am seriously worried for you, kind internet stranger. GET OUT!!!!

Do NOT tell him you are leaving. He can't handle losing a pizza box. Imagine what he'll do when his only support system leaves (it's dysfunctional but works for him!)

Great advice above about making sure you have documents with you. Take everything you can that you might need, including the marriage license. Assume you are leaving to never see anything again, so take it the first time. I would consider this an emergency so if you lose grandma's homemade quilt because you needed to jump through the proverbial window, so be it. It's a thing. Your life and emotional well being are more important. Take documents, not mementos, unless you have the luxury of time.

Under no circumstances tell him where you end up. Go through your phone. Delete anything -- any apps, anything -- that might be able to be used to locate you. Everything has GPS now. If you have Find My iPhone or similar, set it on fire. In fact, maybe get a burner phone for a while. if you are leaving behind any devices, scrub them of any information as best you can. Or destroy them. Fuck him if he needs them.

He's going to try and find you. You need to prepare for that. Incldung coming to your job if he knows where that is. PLEASE reach out friends and family if you can. They can help you.
posted by archimago at 1:12 PM on December 2, 2021 [34 favorites]

You are going to have so much fun decorating your new place exactly the way you want it. You may not be able to do it immediately, but you have hours of decorating fun ahead of you. Including getting a new sofa when you have the money and are ready! This may seem trivial but one of the things that helped me out of my old marriage was daydreaming about the things I would get to enjoy that I was unable to experience while still in my marriage. It may be something else for you but for me, getting to decorate according to my own taste was a big deal. What is your pleasurable big deal? Let that help pull you toward freedom.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:12 PM on December 2, 2021 [21 favorites]

don't want to tell him before Christmas with our family, all the events around it.

If christmas means anything to you on any personal emotional level, give yourself the gift of peace, space, cleanliness, solitude, and hope this year. don't wait, and don't leave him a forwarding address.

couples counseling is not for treating individual mental illness. just because it doesn't work when one member of a couple is abusive doesn't mean it does work if he's not (I mean, he is, but.) there are so many things besides physical abuse that can render couples counseling pointless, and you have listed out a great number of them.

you can't save your marriage without fixing your husband and you can't fix your husband (I mean: not personally, neither by fighting back nor by giving in, and not indirectly, by paying a professional to do it.) Whether he can fix himself, you don't know any more than I do. he himself cannot know unless he tries.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:14 PM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

Go if you can go safely. That feeling in you that wonders if/when he will hit you deserves to be respected and heard. Your anger, anxiety, and frustration are trying to save you.
When you go, take more safety precautions than you feel you need. Please contact a local agency that specializes in Intimate Partner Violence (which is what you are experiencing), even if you don't need shelter or material help. They have a ton of knowledge and other resources that might be helpful, and it will establish a relationship with them that will expedite things if this escalates and you do end up needing shelter or material help.
I don't know if you are a poetry person, but I return to and share Mary Oliver's The Journey often.
Whatever you choose to do, you are worthy of safety, respect, and peace. Whatever you choose, you are the expert on your own life and get to decide how to live it.
posted by Otis the Lion at 1:15 PM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

Good for you for applying for the apartment! Holy shit, that is so much more than I ever had the nerve to do. I was stuck, stuck, stuck. You've got some momentum now--don't lose it! Get the keys on the 15th, take all the safety precautions, and get out. Give yourself the best Christmas gift ever. I promise you, your life is going to be so much better in your cute apartment, having good sex with someone who holds down a job and takes out the trash. You can do it!
posted by HotToddy at 1:20 PM on December 2, 2021 [11 favorites]

So much good advice. You deserve to be safe in your own home. Get out secretly and quietly.

Be sure to get a new phone, one not on any plan he has access to. Otherwise, he can see your calls. Any call on that old plan he has access to can hint that things are changing.
posted by answergrape at 1:22 PM on December 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

AMAZING JOB getting that apartment, and for writing this question. It’s very brave to consider making a change like this for yourself, and you deserve it. Please read this thread as many times as you need to stay on track. You’ll be so incredibly proud of yourself in the end.
posted by Ryon at 1:27 PM on December 2, 2021 [14 favorites]

By the way, if you ever start to think “but it’s not that bad, things could be so much worse” you are RIGHT, in a way. You could be in a position to actually start believing him when he tells you all those hurtful lies about your character, habits, etc. I can tell from what you wrote that you know it’s all bullshit, and that’s a VERY BIG advantage you have right now.
posted by Ryon at 1:33 PM on December 2, 2021 [17 favorites]

I’m also impressed and so, so pleased you have a safe home arranged for yourself. Please do not tell your husband any of your plans in advance. Move out while he is gone; tell him only when you are away.

The part of your post that struck me the most was your resistance to having children or a pet because you don’t want to bring them into this environment—you are so compassionate and so kind to recognize these other being’s needs, even when they are only abstract. I would ask that, when you hesitate over whether leaving is the right thing to do, that you extend that same care and consideration to yourself. You also deserve to live in a home that is clean and safe. You deserve it just as much as your child or your pet. You are allowed to take care of yourself as carefully and as well as you would take care of them.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 1:36 PM on December 2, 2021 [48 favorites]

The details about his behavior or state of mind are barely relevant to answering this question; you're obviously done with this relationship. Rip the bandaid.

don't want to tell him before Christmas with our family, all the events around it.

My ex-wife waited until after the holidays to tell me she was leaving; the end result was much worse for everyone than if she'd just told me when she was done with the relationship instead of going through a sham of a holiday season.
posted by ook at 1:41 PM on December 2, 2021 [8 favorites]

Run. Protect yourself and assume the worst. (Change your passwords. Send mail to a friend or get a PO box. Consider leaving sooner if you can afford it or know of a safe couch.) Whether or not he'll hit you is important when considering your safety, but there are worse things than being hit, and you're already experiencing many of them.

This is not a trial separation. It's an escape from life threatening danger. Fuck Christmas. Any family worth keeping will understand. Sympathy and best wishes. This is going to be harder than I or most of us can really understand. But, there is a world where you are respected and safe.
posted by eotvos at 1:43 PM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

This was horrific to read. I'm so glad you asked here. You know this isn't healthy. I'm also glad that it seems like you still have a strong sense of yourself and what you want. Protect that by removing yourself from this situation.

Also, it's possible that you will wake up tomorrow and think "oh god, I only told them about the bad parts. Of course they all think I should leave." I'm here to tell you that even if there are a million good things in the relationship that you didn't tell us about, they wouldn't be enough to make it worth staying. You deserve better.

Please do think about your safety in this. Use the resources others have provided to make a plan. Enlist a friend or family member to help you. Don't tell him about your plans until you are gone. Good luck.
posted by lunasol at 1:44 PM on December 2, 2021 [25 favorites]

You can do this and you should do this. You deserve so much better.

Surely, he'd understand, right? He can't want me around like this, right?
No, he won't. Yes, he wants you around like this. It doesn't matter why anymore, all that matters is getting yourself to a safe place (physically and mentally).

He wouldn't actually hit me, right?
If you're asking this question, you already know the answer. Just living with the idea that he might must be terrible for you.

This will be hard, but keep your eye on the reward of a better life at the front of your mind and keep your resolve. make a plan, carry it through and then work through any regret you may have from a clear perspective of not being caught in the middle of this nightmare. Don't get caught up in the lie of remembering any good times without also remembering why you left.
posted by dg at 1:55 PM on December 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

When I was considering leaving my husband, my friend had split with hers, and she said it was such a relief to not have Mr. Critical around, and when I did finally leave, I felt exactly the same relief, and I still feel it when I think about how awful it was to live with a man who picked at me all the time and was generally unkind to me. It has been 17 years now, and I have a partner of 12 years with whom I never have volatile fights, and who I like and love, and feel and know he likes and loves me too. You have a whole life available to you where you don't have to feel the way you do right now. Take the opportunity to have the life you deserve, and I promise you will have zero regrets.
posted by momochan at 1:56 PM on December 2, 2021 [17 favorites]

Oh dear. I want to encourage you to leave as soon as possible. Take time off from work when he's not around to pack up your stuff if need be, if you can manage that, but just leave with nothing more than whatever you need for a day or two if that what it takes. Just leave. Go stay with someone til the 15th, and then move into your new place, and then move forward and don't look back.

I don't think you should do a trial separation. I think you should get divorced.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:56 PM on December 2, 2021 [11 favorites]

The hoarding and your description sound like serious mental illness. You are assessing whether he will hit you or you will hit him. He will not allow you to have personal choice in your home, and threatened harm. He wants to control your finances. He is jeopardizing your home.

Because you have experienced abuse, your frame of reference may be skewed. I think you should leave as soon as possible, as safely as possible. You have been patient and compassionate and he is taking advantage of that, and everything. Once you are somewhere safe, you can alert his family that he needs help. You will benefit from therapy. So would he, but you can't make that choice for him, Go.
posted by theora55 at 2:00 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Can only echo everyone else - this is not salvageable -get out asap, protect yourself, your information, your finances and above all your well being.
posted by leslies at 2:00 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I am in the process of emerging out of an abusive situation and just reading this made my stomach give a sickening lurch of recognition. My palms started sweating out of sheer fear. If you are wondering whether he'll hit you, you already know the answer. If you already know you can't trust him, then you already know that you need to get out, the sooner the better. This situation is not salvageable and you must now save yourself. You can find a useful list of documents to secure here and basic steps to take here: https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/leaving-abusive-relationship-how-protect-yourself.htm. You're already two steps ahead by having secured a place to flee to -- that's so brave, and so smart. Get out as soon as you possibly can and take care of yourself. Fuck Christmas. What matters is you.
posted by pleasant_confusion at 2:20 PM on December 2, 2021 [20 favorites]

Hello here is a book you can read about this, stat. "Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft. Basically, this dude's abuse is a very useful tool to keep things the way he wants them--think of how many advantages he gets from the way he's managing this marriage, where you are always at fault for everything and owe him for that. He's putting you in several obvious double binds. You might also get something out of this essay on sick systems.

I'm SO STOKED you have keys to a new apartment away from him. I highly encourage you to go to Christmas with your family without him and let him go to his family without you. I know the idea of getting into it with your family sounds insurmountable, but it sounds like your family LOVES you and maybe you can just say "we're currently separated and I just can't talk about it right now, I just want to spend time with you guys". You don't have to explain it right now, that can happen later, you just need to get away from him and figure stuff out then. And the thing is, I think once you are in your own space where you can breathe, and contacting him as little as humanly possible, you are just going to feel SO MUCH BETTER, like you stopped hitting yourself with a hammer.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:50 PM on December 2, 2021 [12 favorites]

N-thing “go.” Lots of good advice on what to take and in what priority. Logistics: Bring a trusted friend if you possibly can. Borrow or rent a truck or van. Claim what is rightfully yours, safely and expeditiously… and never look back.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:06 PM on December 2, 2021

Your building management gave you an early Christmas present -- the perfect escape. Seize your moment and take care!
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 3:24 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Please see a lawyer so you can protect yourself in the (likely) event that he becomes more vindictive than he already is.
posted by shw at 3:30 PM on December 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

To reiterate, do not give him your new address. Do not let him know where you live. Protect yourself from your worst fear of him, and you'll be protected if he does anything less as well.
posted by lab.beetle at 4:26 PM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Go. Go, go, go.

I hear you on the inertia. I let inertia and misplaced sense of duty keep me in a marriage that, while barely a thousandth as bad as yours, was still bad for ten unnecessarily miserable years.

I should have gone. It's my chiefest life regret. Do not be me. YOU SHOULD GO. YOU NEED TO GO. GO.

If there's any way I can help, DM me.
posted by humbug at 4:33 PM on December 2, 2021 [8 favorites]

Any time you wonder if someone would hit you, it is because they are already being abusive in other ways.

Hitting is not normal.


Threatening to hit is not normal.
Fearing being hit is not normal.
Wondering if you will be hit is not normal.
Asking if you will be hit is not normal.
Having a momentary twinge of fear because someone acted like they might hit you is not normal.

If you are thinking about hitting happening to you, something wrong is happening to you, even if that wrong thing isn't hitting (yet).

In a healthy relationship, thoughts of hitting never happen.

In a healthy relationship, hitting is not only not happening today, it's never even been on the menu. In a healthy relationship you would never ever ever for a second wonder if the other person would hit you.

Any time you wonder if someone would hit you, it is because they are already being abusive in other ways.

Please, please, get the fuck outta there.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:00 PM on December 2, 2021 [24 favorites]

This isn't fixable. I grew up as a child of hoarders, or really, a hoarder and her enabler. I'm 45. The house BURNT DOWN because they wouldn't deal with the electrical issues because someone would see inside the house. They replaced it; things slowly accumulated again. Then they lost the house/property to foreclosure, again, to hoarding issues and the inertia that being a dependent enabler causes. They moved into a rental. They destroyed that place. Me and my four children moved them - and their stuff - to my sisters. Guess where is now turning into a hoarder nightmare?

From what I can tell, your husband is a hoarder. You're an enabler of a hoarder. I'm so thankful you have no children with him; it will make this all so much easier.

Please, please contact a local domestic violence organization if you think - at all - that you might retreat on your conviction to leave. Please do NOT let him follow you to the new apartment. You'll just end up in the same situation in a new place. Get therapy. Make sure it includes therapy for dependent personality issues.

Please get out.
posted by stormyteal at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

My former in-law reminds me a lot of your husband. My family member suddenly moved out a couple weeks before a big holiday that she'd planned to host. She'd been keeping quiet about what was going on with them for a long time, so that we wouldn't think poorly of him. (Or maybe her.) Please: don't think you have to maintain the status quo through the holidays because family. I don't know your family, but mine is not warm and comforting and is kinda judgy, and it was still fine.

I also second all the safety advice, because my in-law managed a couple weeks of sounding reasonable and agreeing to counseling and such, and then got ugly when she didn't cave immediately. He didn't know where she lived, thanks to her good planning.

So: congratulations on your apartment! If you are in central Texas and need help moving or an air mattress, please message me.
posted by mersen at 8:06 PM on December 2, 2021 [11 favorites]

Oh my god I am cheering for you so hard. You are so close to making your life SO MUCH BETTER. Just keep walking away. Keep walking. Every step away is a step in the right direction.
posted by Vatnesine at 8:07 PM on December 2, 2021 [9 favorites]

He.... Threatened to chop off your hands, didn't he? I'm reading that right? Because it certainly sounds like he significantly threatened you because of trash. That you were trying to clean up after it hit crisis point. This is not an ok situation, it will not get better if you stay.

This is an emergency and you need to protect yourself. At all costs. None of us are exaggerating for dramatic effect here.... We're worried about your health and safety. He's worried about the trash pile he's made of your home and life.

You have our permission to get out. Please please do. This is not a ship that just needs a little bailing out. This is a hurricane emergency. I'm sorry you're in this situation but you are strong enough to escape.

You've got the exit ready. You're worth taking it and building a good life. You deserve peace and safety and love. This isn't it.
posted by Jacen at 8:50 PM on December 2, 2021 [14 favorites]

"how to leave open the possibility of reconciliation if/when I move out" -- don't even think about it. This person would only "reconcile" if that meant giving them complete control.

I agree with everyone that this is a really bad situation. You need to get out as soon as you can. Sooner than the 15th. And when you leave, you might also want to have A) a restraining order and/or B) eyes in the back of your head and/or C) friends who will be keeping an eye out because in my view this person is going to come after you to drag you back to your place on the couch, where he wants to "hoard" you!

Nth-ing the 'contact a domestic violence organization' because they might be able to give you temporary housing until the 15th.

Not a praying person, but I'm doing the agnostic equivalent for you - your biggest challenge right now is WHETHER you can get out with him home all the time.
posted by TimHare at 9:24 PM on December 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yeah seconding if you're anywhere on the east coast within reasonable distance to my area, feel free to dm me, I have a car. Also you have the support of all of us here, I'm assuming at least a hundred people, including the people who read this but didn't comment for fear of repetition. We, a mass of random strangers, are cheering you on!
posted by erattacorrige at 9:47 PM on December 2, 2021 [21 favorites]

Please keep your precious self safe and leave this man as quickly and quietly as you can. I will be sending you all my vibes of magical protection and thinking of you.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 11:55 PM on December 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

I am adding my voice.... Leave! This is not ok! Other people have offered great advice but I will also add to think of your mental health after you leave. I know some posters have spoken about relief upon leaving but that wasn't my personal experience. My antixety got worse (but then better, so much better). It took medication and a therapist but if that's not possible (financial, location etc.) there are lots of support groups online. PM if you want recommendations. I am Aussie based, I am sure others can recommend us/EUR/Asian etc groups
posted by Lesium at 12:39 AM on December 3, 2021 [4 favorites]

erattacorrige: We, a mass of random strangers, are cheering you on!

We really are. We are all around the world, and we're on your side... please try to think of that if it gives you strength.
You are about to take a difficult, but very important step. I've been there, and many of us have been there. We made it through and so will you. And things will get better in ways you can't imagine now.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:35 AM on December 3, 2021 [30 favorites]

ANYONE could hit you. For some people it would take a serious traumatic brain injury, delirium or dementia. For others it would only require a misunderstanding about what they perceived to be a life threatening situation.

The question you might want to answer is, what would it take for your husband to hit you? Also, what would it take for your husband to become physical, not necessarily to hit you but to block you from leaving a room or stop you from taking stuff that is your own?

The fact that you are the one who is deemed most likely to hit someone in your marriage is also relevant. There is a not small chance that this is reversal and projection and another sign of the fact that your relationship is not working. It means that the topic has come up which means hitting is not unthinkable. But here is the thing - You do not want to be the kind of person who would hit your husband. That is yet another additional good enough reason to go.

There is often a dynamic in abusive relationships where one person abuses the other one until the abused one hits back and the one who is the initial abuser gets to claim they are the victim. You also need to leave before you start being at risk of reaching your own limit. That's one of the secrets of not becoming an abuser, getting out before it gets to that point, getting help before it gets to that point, disengaging before it gets to that point.

I am so sorry. This kind of thing hurts so much, and it is so overwhelming. Please look for a buddy to give you help with this and please get enough distance that you are safe. Remember, anxiety will drive you back to an abuser. You don't feel safe if you don't know if they are getting upset or not, so you want to make them happy and calm... which you can't do unless you are there. But you cannot make someone else happy and calm. The only person who can is that person themself, and for many people they are not capable of it. Please don't try to rescue him. Save yourself.
posted by Jane the Brown at 11:19 AM on December 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

There's some great advice in here, and you should know that this internet stranger is cheering you on, too.

One thing I didn't see addressed: if he's home as much as it sounds like he is, you're never going to find an opportunity to secretly pack your necessaries in a suitcase without him catching on to what's happening. The threat to you will never be greater than when you're escaping, and the fact that you're so unsure if he will attack you means he's very very likely to attack you if he sees you trying to escape. Do you have a local support network? Does it include any physically large and/or intimidating people? Or do your friends know any large and/or intimidating people? Pick a day and a time and ask everyone you know to show up at your house to provide you an escort while you pack up. Ask everyone to keep their phones at the ready so that you have plenty of video evidence if he tries anything.

Like someone said upthread, this forum is full of internet strangers who are pulling for you, OP. If you're anywhere in New England, this internet stranger is 2 meters tall and will happily drive to your house to silently glower at your abusive husband while you pack your suitcase. Seriously. DM me a time and a place. I'll bring coffee and donuts. I think you'll be amazed at the number of people who will show up to help you if you show them what you've written here. Good luck, and stay safe.
posted by Mayor West at 1:00 PM on December 4, 2021 [13 favorites]

Your agreement that you would be the person to hit him really bothers me. It feels like he's baiting you to hit him and thinks you might snap and do it. If you do, that's a bell that can't be unrung and you really don't want to have done that and feel guilty about it.

In terms of leaving horrible environments, the times I've done it have felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. As I walked across the parking lot after being let go from a really horrible job I almost did the Bender at the end of Breakfast Club.
posted by bendy at 8:29 PM on December 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Your agreement that you would be the person to hit him really bothers me. It feels like he's baiting you to hit him and thinks you might snap and do it. If you do, that's a bell that can't be unrung and you really don't want to have done that and feel guilty about it.
I think what's happening in this dynamic is some form of gaslighting, like how people who are cheating on their partner accuses the cheatee of being the cheater. I think it is far more likely that the husband in this scenario is the one to do any hitting here. I am sure he is not posing the question "My wife wouldn't hit me - would she?" to a bunch of people online because he is not actually worried about her hitting him. What he is worried about is her taking control of her own life, because this obviously threatens the cage of fear he's so laboriously constructed around her.
posted by erattacorrige at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

So, this put me in mind of this Captain Awkward question I've never stopped thinking about, namely the "concern for the environment" that mostly operates as a pretext for controlling a partner and avoiding other mental-heath issues. The dude there isn't acting as scary, but I think there's some useful advice at that link. Bringing up "the Earth" as a justification for treating people unacceptably over trash is a pretty common thing with hoarders, and also, unfortunately, with abusive and controlling partners on the hippie/lefty side of the spectrum. You're not alone in experiencing this, and you are 100% correct in your perception that it's weird and bad and scary!

Nthing the advice to leave as quickly and safely as possible. This sounds miserable and unfixable. You don't have to live like this.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 10:58 PM on December 5, 2021 [9 favorites]

Please go and don't give him your new address. Stay safe!
posted by poppunkcat at 6:17 AM on December 6, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm still thinking about this thread. I hope you are safe.
posted by answergrape at 11:47 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]

Seconding answergrape.
posted by kensington314 at 10:52 AM on January 7

Hi, everyone. I am friends with the anonymous asker, and with her permission, I can tell you that the move went okay and she is safe and well and separated from her husband. He appears to be slightly unclear on that last point, but as she has moved into a different apartment, no longer lives with him and has not given him her new address, it's fairly obvious to the rest of us. She's also taken steps to protect her digital life (calendar, etc) so he can't easily get to her electronically. She may knit the world's entire supply of chunky yarn into the world's largest collection of afghans before the year is out, but as coping mechanisms go, knitting is very warm and cozy.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:36 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]

I very much hope she enjoys her clean living space and freedom to breathe! Great news
posted by Jacen at 4:57 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I'm so glad she's safe! How brave and powerful she is for taking this step toward a safer and healthier life.
posted by answergrape at 3:29 PM on January 16

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