She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I feel I am nothing.
I feel so alone and like I am disappearing into nothing. The world I once lived in no longer exists. I used to be someone with a career. I was independent, happy, outgoing, and had loads of friends. Now I am a nobody without a penny to my name — in debt up to my eyeballs, no friends, and nobody who really cares or who can help.
I have a two-year-old child. My ex was abusive and controlling. I have been on and off with him for over seven years.
I moved away to be closer to family, but all I do is burden them with my issues. They are now showing signs of stress and saying little things behind my back. I know that my family cares, but feel like I made my bed and should now lay in it. My ex has told them bad things about me to make them doubt me and, to be fair, I doubt myself. I've got no money for the bills. I'm going to have to give up my car very soon due to lack of funds. Then I will be restricted as to places of work, since I live in a small country town. I'm sinking faster than I can breathe, and my poor little boy has no idea how badly his mommy is feeling.
Now I can fix all of this. All I have to do is be with my ex. He isn't violent. He is just very controlling, very jealous, and very obsessive. He thinks I'm cheating all the time even though the only place I ever go is food shopping. He gets paranoid about my phone getting texts and calls, but then he is paranoid if I don't because he thinks I've put it on silent or blocked everybody just when he is around! I basically can't win either way, but at least I am financially better off, and I'm not constantly worrying about how I'm going to pay the next lot of rent or how I'm going to put food on my table.
So my question is: am I better off being with him?
Nobody else can help me like he can, and to be fair, nobody else wants to.
Thanks. Not sure you really even exist.
I do exist. While I am not a therapist or doctor, I am here to listen and offer advice based on my experiences.
I know that feeling — the one that makes you feel like nothing, like you are fading, like you might just disappear altogether. And it’s awful. That’s how depression has always manifested for me.
When we feel trapped, when we feel paralyzed by our circumstances, we can start to feel like we are receding so far into the background of life, that we may cease to exist.
But, I see you. I hear you. Even though I am a stranger across the endless miles of the Internet, you are not alone.
The most important thing I am going to say to you here (and I want you to read this and get this) is — DON’T GO BACK TO YOUR EX.
You may think that you’d be solving your problems, but you wouldn’t. You would be voluntarily stepping back into prison, controlled by this man.
So, how do you get a handle on the problems in front of you?
When I have been overwhelmed by my situation in life, feeling the thick cloak of depression holding me down, I have found that it is only through a combination of actions, big and small, that get me moving in the right direction.
We’ve established that you need to excise this man from your life. Good. Now, we need to address your mental health.
Although you may not feel like it is a priority, self-care is essential.
This includes: showering or bathing every day, getting out of the house with your child for some fresh air, drinking A LOT of water, accessing online or in person support via health services and peer groups (I believe you are in another country, but I can get you specific IRL and online resources for your location). This includes getting some help from a therapist (and possibly psychiatrist) to sort out what you are feeling and whether or not an antidepressant or mood stabilizer would be beneficial.
Also: you can start working with your family to make a schedule that allows you to get the help you need regarding childcare so you can get a job. Having even a bit of income will improve your outlook and increase your independence. If there is someone in your family that can help you hold on to the car, make an agreement with them regarding repayment. Being proactive about this could help you remain in a position to access work outside of your town.
Lastly, friends. One thing that is awesome about living in 2017 is the access we have via the Internet. There are many places where you can connect with other women, with other moms. Don’t underestimate the power of those connections. (Again, I can give you resources specific to your country and region via email.)
Even though it seems daunting, your two-year-old son is FAR BETTER OFF seeing his mom put her life back together, even if it's not perfect, than remain in a toxic, abusive relationship.
Our children model their relationships on what we show them. Be the example.
I know you can do it. Reaching out for help is the first step to getting where you want and deserve to be.
If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, infidelity, friendship, divorce, Chromium Quartz, reproductive issues, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo