Your Call: I Finally Escaped a 13-Year Toxic Marriage. Now What?

We get a lot of questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to respond to a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. 

Dear Em & Lo,

I am 30 years old and a single mother of 4. I just got out of a very toxic relationship of 13 years. I got married when I was 18 to a man eleven years my senior — yes, I was young and dumb. But I also grew up in poverty (my parents got sponsored to the United States just before I was born) and when I was growing up I was not educated enough to understand what a good man is.

Long story short, I accepted so many wrong things and allowed so much wrong doings in my last relationship that I almost want to become anti-social, and just do everything at home, no matter if it’s school, work, or even shopping. During my 13 years of marriage, I became oppressed and stopped everything that kept me happy and devoted my life to this man.

Now that I finally got out of the relationship, I am ready to live again, I am back in school, socializing, just engaging with society — I feel like I’m 18 again and doing everything that I stopped doing when I got married. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but it really feels like I am catching up with everything I missed out on.

I’m afraid to fall in love with the wrong person and be abused in every way. I’m afraid of being alone as well — I think that’s why I stayed in the relationship for so long. Taking and dealing with all this really FUCKED me up.

I need so much help! How can I move forward?

— The Not So Gay Divorcee

What do you think N.S.G.D. should do? Leave your suggestions for her in the comments section below. 


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8 Comments on "Your Call: I Finally Escaped a 13-Year Toxic Marriage. Now What?"

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Tony can you describe the abusive wife issue.




A brief litmus test I read somewhere on the internet – if you wouldn’t tolerate a specific behavior from a sibling, don’t tolerate it from a prospective partner.

First off, congratulations on getting out of a toxic relationship! I know the feeling personally, as I was married to an abusive woman for years. Socially connecting, living your life as you truly want to, listening to your heart – all of these things are wonderful and healing. As for the fear of getting into a similar relationship again – that’s a completely reasonable fear. The trick is to understand where it comes from and to try not to make the same mistakes, but to not let the fear paralyze you or interfere in a healthy relationship. That’s easier said… Read more »
Well, as I see it, there are many things to be thankful for. But before I expand on that, I’d like to address the fact that you feel like you’re eighteen again. It’s because in a way, you are. It’s time you embrace those feelings, and run with it. In my opinion that’s a very positive thing. It could be the driving force that helps you move further away from your past. As far as meeting the right person, I always said I would know it when it happens (I think you will too). When I met my wife, I… Read more »
Have a bit of time to enjoy your freedom- just remember that you *are* still young and you don’t have to be married. Find new hobbies and just really get to know yourself in every sense of the word! Take some time to write down what you would consider “warning signs” for a new partner- things like 1- Isolation-Feeling separated from friends and family 2- Pressure-Feeling like you’re being pressured into anything- either by force or guilt 3- Physical- Any form of non-consensual physical contact- could be a range from actually hitting to grabbing and manipulating you into sex 4-… Read more »
You’ve already made the first step to moving on! Go you! I was in an two different abusive relationships (one physical and one emotional) and being alone for a little while allows you to create your own identity. You won’t be alone forever, but embrace that time! Celebrate being able to be you without someone holding you back. Join some book clubs, make new friends, go out, dance, have fun, volunteer. You will meet someone when your soul has healed. Just find strength in yourself first. Its easy to fall back into a relationship quickly but I think being single… Read more »

Erase the old guy. Throw out anything that reminds you of him. Don’t talk about him ever again.

If he pops into your head every time you make a move, you’re still not really living. Stop thinking of yourself as a formerly abused woman who needs to pick up the pieces. Start thinking of yourself as just a woman who has a whole lot of life ahead of her.

That part of your life is over and done. The worst disservice you could do yourself now is to dig it up and drag it into every aspect of your new life.