Savannah, GA

When You Feel "Held Hostage" In A Toxic Relationship

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished
Man and WomanEric Ward- Unsplash

This story is based on true information as told to me and used with permission. All the names have been changed.

Eight years ago, I was a happy, single, divorced woman living in Savannah, Georgia. I love my two adult daughters and family, my job, own my home, travel, and enjoy life. One day, some mutual friends introduced me to Thomas. Thomas is 10 years older than me, a business owner with two sons from a previous marriage, and he loves traveling like me. We hit it off immediately. We started dating and he took me out to dinner, we traveled the world, went camping, cooked together, worked out together, and more. We genuinely enjoyed each other. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes. One evening, we were visiting some friends, Jan and Mike. It was a group of about ten people, and we decided to walk down to the lake that is attached to Jan and Mike's property. Not wanting to go, Thomas told me to stay and wait for the group to return.

"Oh, c'mon, baby," I smiled and spoke. "I'll carry our blankets and you grab our chairs. It will be nice."

"I said I don't want to go," Thomas yelled at me. Let me stop here. This was the first time he has ever raised his voice at me, so I was in shock for a moment.

"When I say I don't want to do something, stop trying to convince me. I hate it when you do that. You're stupid," he said.

I think I was frozen for a good 40 seconds. I picked up my things, walked to the truck, got in, and waited for him. When I got in the truck, I verbally unleashed on him, and we argued all the way home. That was my warning. That night. I went to bed and cried most of the night, while Thomas slept on the couch. The next day, he was apologetic and blamed his behavior on the alcohol. I think I believed him because we had been together for two years and he had never done anything like this before. We occasionally disagreed, but we never called each other names, raised our voices, physically harmed, or threatened each other. We talked it out, expressed it could not happen again and six months later, we got married.

This is the second marriage for us both. We were both with our previous spouses for 15-plus years, so marriage is not new for either of us. Thomas, though, is very controlling. Once we became husband and wife, he began criticizing the way I dressed, criticizing my friends, keeping tabs on my every move, and more. When I express my unhappiness about it, we end up in an argument with a bunch of name-callings. He has never been physically abusive to me, but he has grabbed my arm before.

Thomas agreed to go to marriage counseling, but we have not attended any sessions. I think that is partly because I have not tried to find a counselor or schedule an appointment. I do not think I want to try anymore. I want Thomas to move out. When I suggest this to him, he tries to guilt me by saying he has nowhere to go. The man owns three businesses, several vehicles, real estate, and more. He can find somewhere to go. He tries to use MY belief and faith in God to make me feel guilty when he is not even a spiritual person. He is a manipulator. He knows that I value the union of marriage and uses that to manipulate me into staying in this unhappy relationship. I realize that now. I realized it within the last few weeks.

How do I feel? I feel like all my options have been removed. I do not feel like "myself." I feel "held hostage" in a marriage. I'm tired of being disrespected, I'm tired of repeating the same cycle after a bunch of empty apologies, I'm tired of waking up in an unhappy environment every day, I'm just tired. I know this marriage is a mistake and I want to get out of this on pleasant terms. I love my husband, but we are not meant to be together. His either insecurities or need for control do not work for a woman like me. I need a partner who, among other things, is confident, trusting, and happy. I'm not sure if Thomas is any of those things and his energy has rubbed off on me. I enjoy some of my life with him, but I enjoyed all of my life without him.

Do I take any blame for this? Yes. I should have never married this man. We should have dated and been great friends, but I rushed into this marriage and that is unfair to him. Thomas is a wonderful man, for someone. I am a great woman, for someone. We are just not for each other. I'm responsible for yelling and taking part in the arguments and name-calling. That is part of the problem. Now I'm out of my character and behaving just like him and I do not like whom I have become.

What am I going to do now? I honestly do not know. I'm still thinking things out. I know that I'm going to get a divorce, I just do not know how. I love my gorgeous home here in Savannah, but I've even considered selling my house and moving to Texas with my sister. But then I think that once everything is over, I will regret giving up my house, my life, basically everything behind a failed marriage. Why should I do that? I want Thomas to agree to pack, leave, and sign the papers and there be no hard feelings, instead of apologizing, staying, and trying to make this marriage work. Unless he is going to completely change, it may work, but I will never be happy.

I shared my story for a few reasons. One, I feel relieved getting this out. No one knows the details of my marriage because I'm embarrassed to share them, and I do not want my friends and family members to view Thomas differently. If they knew how he treated me and spoke to me, they would hate him and would not disguise it. Another reason is that I realize that I'm not the only person feeling this way. There are women and men across our globe stuck, or thinking they are stuck, in unhappy relationships. I do not believe that we are supposed to love unhappy so I hope my story will encourage someone to find the courage to allow their mate and themselves to have the happiness they deserve.

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