I try to ignore my spouse when he comes looking for a fight. He’s craving chaos, so he provokes me by picking on the kids. I intervene, de-escalate, and tell the kids in his presence: it’s not about you; pray, forgive, and move on. I’m wriggling out of my spouse’s grasp and moving forward without him. The marriage is over, but the toxic relationship remains. I have no money because I pick up the pieces financially, which stresses my finances and keeps me broke. The kid’s needs are endless; my spouse only does so much until he snaps. I get cheated out of my fair share regularly. I am too broke to leave, which is part of his plan to keep me stuck in the muck with nowhere to go.

I know I’m not wanted in my home; I feel it daily. I feel trapped and isolated in my bedroom upstairs in the corner of our house. My spouse shouts to the rooftop: this is my house! No, it’s my house too, and he has the resources to move out right now but refuses to leave. He taunts me and offers me money to get out of his sight, then laughs at me when I take him up on the offer.  I have outlets for an escape, but that’s temporary. I have nowhere to go except back to the dysfunction.

Just because I have nowhere to go doesn’t mean I have to be miserable all the time. My circumstances are not ideal, and my relationship with my spouse is over, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a way to be content. I want out, and until that happens, I’m determined to improve my bad situation. I live in the present, not the past. I work on myself physically, emotionally, mentally, mind, body, and soul. I’m a work in progress. I rewire my thoughts about myself from negative and critical to positive and affirming; ideas that propel me forward instead of backward. I am somebody. I am a good person and a good parent.  I’m responsible for my life. I’m proud of myself for walking and eating better. I let go and let God while I wait. While I wait, I practice love, faith, peace, and hope. I forgive myself for mistakes and evil acts.  And one day, I hope to ask my spouse’s forgiveness for bringing my mommy and daddy issues into the marriage that rendered me half, not whole.

I create a life of my own, independent of my spouse. I set boundaries when encountering my spouse and try to keep them this time. I ignore negativity, resist hostility, respectfully disagree, communicate without blaming, watch my tone and leave the house if that doesn’t work. I focus on myself and mind my business. I figure out my needs and fulfill them. I say no and mean it without feeling guilty. I won’t be uncomfortable making somebody else comfortable.  It feels like I’m preparing for life after marriage despite having nowhere to go.

I save money by cooking more and taking leftovers to work. I stopped buying things I didn’t need and started paying off credit cards.  I unclutter my room, purge my closet and donate. I buy a withering plant on sale to nurture. I pull up my blinds and let the sunshine, sunrises, and sunsets in. I open my window, hear the birds, smell the fresh air, and exhale. I light a scented candle and turn on music. Despite having nowhere to go, I feel good and grateful in my sanctuary upstairs in the corner of our house.