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.


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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