A Caged Love

One of my favorite songs is “Say Something” by A Great Big World. When it first came out, my husband and I were at the peak of our demise and I was in the valley of desperation. I knew in my gut where we were headed, but I still fought against it with all I had.

I remember hearing this song for the first time and just bawling. It felt like the message of my soul to my husband.

One night I had him listen to it. I watched in breathless anticipation of his reaction hoping for some miraculous realization that these were my words for him. I prayed it would be an awakening. Instead, his eyes glazed over and a few seconds in he said, “Oh my God!!! This song makes my ears bleed it’s so boring.”

It sounds small and potentially insignificant, but because of everything that lead to that moment, it was a powerful statement for me. It was just one more reminder that we walked a parallel life and barely even spoke the same language. Our marriage existed between two lines that never connected.

The song says, “Say something, I’m giving up on you.”

In the last months of my marriage, I felt this was my anthem. I continued to beg him to “say something.” Anything. To fight. Make a move. Show some signs of life from his wilting bones.

He never did. At least not in the way I wanted him to. But I realize now that he in fact was sending a very clear message. He wasn’t just “saying something.” He was screaming, sometimes literally, the message of escape. His apathy toward me and our marriage was blazing. I could feel him slipping through my fingers; but like a handful of sand, the tighter I held on the more he slipped right through my hands.

Over this last year, I continued trying to hold onto him. And every time, the tighter my grip, the less of him I had.

For 5 years our love was a fighting cage. He lured me into the cage and I locked the door. Inside that steel coop, we wrestled. I tried to fight him into being what I wanted and he tried to fight his way out. He’d get close to the door and I’d tackle him back in. I’d get close to the door and he’d pull me back down.

Like two ensnared animals we circled each other, destroying each other.

wpid-couple_fighting.jpg

Eventually our fight died down. We stopped wrestling. I stayed along the edges of the cage and he stayed on the inside. With my back to the metal rungs I called to him, “Come with me. Let’s get out of this cage together.”

From the center of it he’d lift his eyes and scream, “Go!”

After the final fight of my life, I heeded his words and I escaped the cage for my own survival. I knew if I stayed in there with him, I’d die. For a while I stayed near it hoping maybe he’d see freedom and want to come with me. I lingered beside the rungs and through the parallel bars I reached for him.

When I stretched my hand toward him, he ran to the other side. Occasionally he’d say, “Well I can’t escape without your help. Come get me.” Most of the time, his message remained, “Go.”

And so I stopped, because a person can only stay tied to a cage for so long before it costs them their life.

I thought that when I escaped that cage I’d find some freedom. That maybe the wrestling match would end. But the game is that only as I let go does he grasp toward my hand again. A narcissist can’t stand defeat. So to regain his sense of power and control, he slings the right words from the opposite side of his cage.

It’s not a loving gesture. It’s not the fight that I wanted to see. It’s a manipulative ploy. A cunning scheme for his own amusement from inside the pen. A means to twist the story so that in between chugs of alcohol, broken promises, and continuous lies he gets to say, “See!? I tried, but she gave up on me anyway.”

There’s a cruelty in loving someone like my husband. An injustice. A sickness in the enjoyment of an evil heart playing with the pure.

A year outside the cage has shown me the reality of what I was trapped within. It’s hard to look at sometimes. The trauma hits you later as you realize what a close call it was.

There’s a sadness as I accept the fact that I couldn’t get to him. And an anger as he tries to make that my fault. There’s a sense of loss as I discern the fact that he will forever be on that side, and I will forever be on this side. And a rage as he again uses that to try to suck me back in, all the while having no real intention of being anything but separated by a confine he created.

I didn’t want to give up on him. I didn’t want to walk away from that cage. But I could no longer withstand the savagery that came from such a brutal love. I had to walk away, and I had to leave him in that cage where he sits. He’s not mine to save. If he wants out, he knows the way. 

I now have to forgive myself for not being able to reach him and I have to forgive him for blaming his entrapment on me. I have to release control over his side of the story and remember I’m doing what I have to do for myself and my sons. And I have to let go of it all.

One step at a time, I have gotten closer to freedom on the other side of that cage. The pain of leaving someone I love inside it isn’t as sharp anymore as I realize it was never my job to get him out of there. But that dull ache remains, because I don’t want to see anyone rot inside a self created steel structure.

I begged him to say something for years. I eventually understood that he was saying something all along. It just wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’ll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere, I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you
And I am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all
And I will stumble and fall
I’m still learning to love
Just starting to crawl
Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you
Anywhere, I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you
And I will swallow my pride
You’re the one that I love
And I’m saying goodbye.

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33 thoughts on “A Caged Love

  1. So well put. Makes my heart ache a bit with remembrance, yet rejoice at your growing strength and freedom. Hugs and prayers as always, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The first time I heard this song I balled my eyes out in my car. From that time on anytime it came on I would blare it and sing every word choking down the pain and tears. I have moved on but those wounds are hard to heal. The way they say I’m giving up makes it seem so sad and really captures the frustration of wanting it to be different, but having the courage to realize that it wont be. It gets easier as time goes by, but as your boys get older there will be new hurdles…

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  3. I don’t think we EVER forget that pivotal moment when we decide to FiNALLY leave. Often it is over something small instead of a monumental problem in our marriage. Keep growing my friend and moving on this wonderful path you have laid for yourself and your children!

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  4. What a horrible moment sharing that song with him and not getting a descent reaction. I can’t imagine the struggles you’ve faced in the past year, but it’s amazing to me how much you’ve changed. I’ve almost “known” you for a year and your growth has been inspiring!

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    • That means so much Tarynn. Sometimes I don’t see the growth, but most of the time I do, and I feel it in the changes of even the smallest things, like how I feel when I hear a song. It’s been a process for sure, and always will be ins one ways, but we are getting there. Thanks for your never-ending encouragement and kind words. So glad to know you.

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  5. Such a personal experience to share… that song speaks volumes and like you said, you had been given a message from your husband yet didn’t “listen” to the words. As hard as your lost was, I’m sure you have learned so much about who you are as a person, a Mom, a survivor!

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  6. You are beautiful and this is beautiful thank you for sharing this resonates so strongly with me and my situation ! keep strong and loving and you are awesome ❤

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  7. great post. I remember going thru those exact emotions when I had to leave with the kids. There were many times I too asked for him to “say something” but nothing came about. Your reference of a cage fight is spot on! It was almost a dance trying to get him help or even just to acknowledge his treatment of me, then I would back away and he would pull me right back by ‘attempting’ to help. The cycle was vicious. Thru counseling I can finally forgive myself for ‘letting’ it happen and him for his choices. I also finally understood that his “answer” was always there even if he didn’t voice it, not doing anything was saying just as much. It is so tough when we have to leave knowing it is for best, yet praying that he will finally understand what we were trying to say all along. Only for him to slink back and tell everyone that we were the ones to give up. Thank you for the remarkable post!

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    • Oh, I feel and understand every single word. Thank you for this heartfelt and thoughtful reply. I am so sorry you’re enduring this and had to dance this painful dance. But it does make us stronger and we do gain more than we lost in the end. But it’s not easy or fun in the process. You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you continue to walk away from that cage. ❤

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  8. That song.. it fits the end to a relationship so well. The metaphor you use in the steel cage is so hauntingly true. It can become a cage, and you do want to escape together, intact but it isn’t possible if both parties don’t have the same goal in mind. I’m happy for you that you were able to escape and become the strong, confident, beautiful friend I know today. Just the fact when you asked him to listen to the song, the answer he gave. As I read this and reached that part, I was screaming inside “SHE WANTS YOU TO SAY SOMETHING!” You wrote a brilliant, heartfelt much needed piece for so many. And each time I read more of your words, I cherish our friendship and the person you have become going through these things. Loves.

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    • This gave me chills, as so many of your words do. Thank you Rachel. You are truly a beautiful, inspiring friend and I am proud to know you. Thank you for your insight, wisdom and constant encouragement. It truly means so much! ❤

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  9. I just found your blog. This was the first post I read. As I read I thought how much you were putting into words exactly what I am currently feeling/going through. When I hit the word narcissist my mouth dropped opened. Not b/c I was in shock you used it to describe him, but b/c that is the word I have used to describe mine for a while now. Eerily similar… Is that what that is?? When he moves out for the 118th time and after he is gone he calls to ask if he come back….when you say “are you crazy you just left and wanted to leave” he later uses it against you and says “I tried to come back home and make it right, you wouldn’t let me.” ALWAYS blaming you, never even acknowledging he left and desired to go at the time. Does no wrong. Is that what that is part of? Narcissism? I suspected it for a while now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like you’ve got a narcissist on your hands. And whatever the right term is for the messes we loved, it’s painful when they have such dysfunctional behavior. I’m so glad you found m and I hope you stick around a while. I’m sorry you’re going through this and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. This is not an easy path, but you will come out much stronger and wiser than you went in.

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  10. This is a beautiful and heartfelt post. That’s one of my favorite songs – I feel so emotional when I hear it. I listened to a lot and cried when I was pregnant. I love how songs move us all differently, one song can mean something totally different from one person to the next, offering different types of support.

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