Look at this picture. I love this picture. I am carefree, pulled together, and a little bit like a farmer but not too much.

I keep thinking I want to put this picture online. And then I think, I can't. I'm too sad. I need a picture of me moping.

This feeling reminds me of when I was younger, it was very hard for me to get a job, and also hard for me to keep one. I was job hunting all the time.

Job hunting is an insane way to live. You are a depressed, scared, unemployed person and the key to getting out of it is to make yourself into a happy, confident, go-getter.

When I was job hunting, I had tricks for giving myself confidence. I'd try to schedule interviews in the late morning. This would give me time to get my spririts up, but it would not require me holding them up for too long — for say, an end-of-the-day interview.

Other stuff I would do that works:

Go to the gym. The emotional boost you get from the gym can last a few hours if you work out hard enough. When I'm at the gym to change my mood, I do intervals.

Shower and put on makeup right away so that I know the day is serious and there's no crying.

Don't eat. If you don't eat, you are happier. This is not true for people who are starving and dragging themselves across the desert in search of a refugee camp. You know that. But you might not have known that being hungry helps you focus and connect with other people. It's probably a survival instinct. If you don't have berries you have to get someone in the group to give you berries. (Which, come to think of it, is not far from the workplace interview situation.)

I am trying to remind myself that I am great at turning things around. Every time I thought my life was hopeless and I'd never get a job and I'd never be happy again, I’d always get a job. Eventually. And things would turn around. At least for a little.

Today, when work isn't going well, I have this magic place I can go in my head where I just trust that things will work out. I will figure out a better way to make money, I will find someone I want as a business partner. People will forget that I did something stupid. These are things I tell myself.

The most powerful career tool I have is faith in myself. It allows me to move through ups and downs with the grace I did not have when I was younger.

But I don't have that with my personal life. You know that feeling you have that you are going to die if you don't get a job? That's what I have almost every day living with the Farmer.

Some days are good. And I try to write about those days. I want to show you the same optimism with my personal life that I have with my career.

But I actually feel hopeless. I have that feeling I used to have when I was unemployed. Like I wished the world would end. I think I am not alone — other people have this feeling when they are unemployed. But people do not talk like this when they are unemployed because they'll never get hired.

I know that if I don’t do anything to make a change, then nothing will change. So today I decide that we should talk. He is in the field. Baling hay.

So I walk out there, a few feet onto the field, which is the universal signal on a farm for “I want to talk to you when you come around to this side of the field.”

The Farmer gets out of the tractor to talk with me. But after a couple of minutes he realizes he doesn't want to talk with me. (We have this problem a lot.) So he walks away, gets back on the tractor and starts to drive off.

I walk in front of the tractor so he will stop and talk to me. He drives it into me, so I jump on top of the front. He keeps driving. It is very hard for me to keep from falling off.

I am screaming, “Stop driving!” and he is ignoring me.

I think that's the picture of our relationship, right there. I want to talk, he doesn't, so we do terrible stuff together. I put myself in danger, and he goes along with it by saying that I'm crazy.

We repeat this cycle over and over again. (Here’s another example.) And the people who are suffering the most are the kids. They did not see the field today. But I’m not kidding myself: There is no way we are hiding the larger problem from them.

It's insane that I just opened up a huge discussion about homeschooling when I don't feel like this is the right home for the kids. It's insane that I'm starting a company when I know the company will take time away from my marriage when marriage is already sucking.

I feel insane right now. The only thing that grounds me is my ability to earn money. I know I can do fun, meaningful things in my career, and even though I’m not great at money management, I can support my kids.

The person I want to be is the person who believes in the strength of my family no matter what confronts us. I want to feel, in my heart, that things will be fine, and then it’ll show in my face all the time. But I am only that way about my career. I wish the skills were transferable, but I don't think they are.


248 replies
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  1. Kay Lorraine
    Kay Lorraine says:

    Yes, we have all been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. Marriage is a tough game. It goes up and down. One of the things that will help you a lot is establishing some ground rules. For instance, Don’t ask the farmer to stop and talk about life when he is in the middle of bailing hay. Don’t jump on the front of a moving tractor.

    On the other hand, if you have a wife who has jumped on your tractor, she’s pretty serious about the conversation so don’t keep driving!

    Don’t break lamps over your head.

    At the same time, don’t leave your wife (and kids) alone while you go off to sulk at mommy and daddy’s overnight.

    You guys need to sit down with a marriage counselor and make some rules AND STICK BY THEM. That’s what my husband and I did and it’s worked out a lot better. Try it.

  2. Tatiana
    Tatiana says:

    Actually, a few months ago, I wanted to submit a post to Brazen Careerist about how much I fucking hate job hunting. I hate being unemployed. I remarked about my desperation and utter feelings of hopelessness. The people who responded said it was normal (to be lost/not know where I’m going), but most of the time I feel like I’m drowning, like I’m suffocating.

    I hate being unemployed. I hate looking for a job. I hate not knowing what the hell I’m doing or where I’m going.

    I don’t have the feelings of confidence that you’ve talked about in this post. I don’t know if things are going to work out. I’m hoping they are, and I’m working on it. But… I’m not sure what’ll happen. :/

  3. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I think you need to talk to Jeanenne. She may be able to lift your spirits. This post is definitely a follow-up post to the recent ‘How to see the need for change’ post. I didn’t comment on that post as it seemed your words were composed for yourself for something to believe in (your best attempt for looking at something optimistically) rather than what was really what you believe or want (“in your heart”).
    I think you are launching new stuff on your site, starting a new company, etc. to keep yourself so busy so as not to have to think too much about your relationship with the Farmer. Many people do this and for some people it works and for other people it doesn’t. I think you fall into the later category because that’s who you are. You know yourself. So maybe the best advice I can give is to know the Farmer as well as you know yourself and take it from there.
    I also love that photo of you on this post. It would be a nice change to have that photo in place of the existing photo in the header. Something different.

  4. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    I don’t know if this applies to the Farmer but I’m the one who shuts down in my marriage, not my husband. My husband would never step in front of my tractor–he’s too practical and restrained. But he comes after me and even when I turn him away, I still want him there. It’s a strange, painful state of wanting to get away and not wanting to be alone. It’s so hard. I don’t think the Farmer really means to run away from you. He is still here, after all. I just think, if he is anything like me in this regard, that it’s so hard to be confronted. And it’s a way to test if that person will continue to come after you even when you’re scared. I’m glad my husband comes toward me when I turn away. Even though it’s my nature to at first want to get away from him, I still need him to try to get me. That’s how I feel loved. The Farmer’s parents have abandoned him in many ways, right? I’ve been abandoned by a parent and other people. I think that’s the wound it’s coming from.

  5. Paul Hassing
    Paul Hassing says:

    Sorry you’re sad, P. By gum I’d like to read a post or two from The Farmer! Any chance? He’d get to tell his story and let off steam. You’d get to ‘talk’ to him indirectly (like folks did in the old days via letters). And his take on matters would probably double your readership overnight. Is possible? P. :)

  6. Jill
    Jill says:

    Oh Sweetie, I’m sorry things are so hard. But your timing sucks.

    Men talk better when they are busy with a task- but not their job. Give him some clothes to fold, or take him fishing, or ask for help in the garden… something where he isn’t so task oreinted and can share some attention with you.

  7. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I know that this is a very serious post and that you’ll get alot of insight into what you should or shouldn’t do about your marriage. But I couldn’t help but chuckle. The field visual makes me laugh.

    {But for the record I really hope you make it with the farmer}

  8. Davers6
    Davers6 says:

    Some thoughts that MIGHT help get you and the farmer talking…

    1) I assume you know what YOU want to get out of the conversation, in other words I assume you know what will a successful talk look / sound like TO YOU … is that correct? Until you can answer ‘yes’ to that, STOP trying to talk to him!

    2) YOU really need to figure out what’s in it FOR HIM? How does your talking improve upon HIS silent serenity?

    3) Final KEY point … we guys only need to use up FAR FEWER WORDS every day than you gals. Women seem to universally nneed to use up 10,000+ words a day. We guys only need to use maybe 2,000 words a day. Any guy who talks MORE than that on an everyday basis is NOT a normal guy.

    So … IF you can get your daily word usage down to maybe 5,000 words he MIGHT double his word up to maybe 4,000 words per day. But please do try very hard to answer for yourself WHAT’S IN IT FOR HIM … and until you know that, the conversation is going nowhere.

    I hate to brak it to you, but MOST normal guys would rather stick giant knitting needles into their brain through their eardrums rather than “let’s talk”, and no amount of YOUR talking will change that.

  9. Justin Kownacki
    Justin Kownacki says:

    Some people are great at relationships. Some people are great at business. Some people are great at faking that they’re great at both when they’re only good at one and work double-time to save (or avoid) the other. And some people just suck at everything.

    I think all of those are just perceptions we have based on how we expect (or want) other people to view us. In truth, if you’re shitty at work, love, friendship, whatever, that’s probably okay. The world needs people who are good at whatever they’re good at, regardless of how bad they are at everything else. And if you really ARE bad at everything, there’s probably a book in that idea.

  10. Bridget
    Bridget says:

    Boy are you one lucky girl. Look at all this fantastic support, and all the wonderful suggestions. I do think the most valuable thread is that he is working and not receptive to talking while working. As a matter of fact, if I were him out there bailing, I would be doing a lot of thinking. So as his partner I might like to talk to him before he goes into the field and then wait until he thinks about it to respond.

    Obviously you deal with situations by venting them through friends-us, and then you have a better perspective. He might be the type that needs to think it through for himself and then let you know what he has decided.

    I am a big advocate of when the conversation gets heated and I would be inclined to say something or think something irrevocably bad – table the discussion, agree to a time to meet in the future. That way you have heard what your partner has said they have heard you, no shots have been fired. You can look at their position in comparison with your position and see what sits with you and what doesn’t.

    Also,since you miss a social life you should go have one.

  11. Anita Junttila
    Anita Junttila says:


    Don’t listen to people telling you that you are bi-polar. Penelope, insanity happens. No, I’m not being trite. I have three sisters and a mom and we let it all hang out. We are not the type of family who pretends everything is o.k. when it’s not. Nuttiness and feeling hopeless is just how some days go. Whenever I’m feeling hopeless I call my mom. I’m crying, upset, I want to leave my family (we are a blended family and the amount of conflict is not easy on our marriage) and I’m feeling lost. She always tells me it’s o.k. women are emotional we go through our crazy times and that it will pass. She tells me of a time in her life when she was a screaming lunatic and “that’s just how it is with us women”. She says always says this in a matter of fact tone with her finnish accent and I always feel better. Sometimes she tells me to be quiet and meditate or take a homeopathic remedy – prayer helps sometimes too. But, in the end, Penelope, we are women and it’s how we roll. We have to talk, and talk and get it all out even if there isn’t a solution in the end.

    When I meet other women who, at times, feel they have to be ‘nice’ all the time and end up on antidepressants I just want to tell them to get mad and break something.

    Thanks to my mom, she gives me permission to be pissed or really scared and sometimes that’s all we need.
    love, Anita

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:

      Aw, your mom sounds like an angel. I’m a mom now and I’m going to remember what you said about her. Since my 5 year old is already throwing crying fits in her room (nobody loves me!! It’s ALL my mom’s fault) I could use some comebacks for when things calm down.

  12. Mary Budge
    Mary Budge says:

    I keep thinking of your previous posts on how the Farmer has been so kind and thoughtful with your boys and it would be an absolute shame if things didn’t work out for you all. It sounds like the Farmer is an introvert. Introverts are a special breed (I know, I am one), have you thought of trying to reach out and communicate with how an introvert is comfortable communicating? We need to process things first. Check out this great article from the Atlantic about introverts. http://tinyurl.com/ykcb89w

  13. Howard Stein
    Howard Stein says:

    Do you read all the comments? Just wondered. Penelope you want certainty. And there is only one thing we need to learn. To be comfortable with uncertainty. Simple. But difficult. I enjoyed the post.

  14. shim aka NappyKitchen
    shim aka NappyKitchen says:

    “I walk in front of the tractor so he will stop and talk to me. He drives it into me, so I jump on top of the front. He keeps driving. It is very hard for me to keep from falling off. I am screaming, “Stop driving!” and he is ignoring me.”

    This part of your post just gave me the creeps. What you both did is so dangerous.

    This made think of that old 1991 Reese Witherspoon movie called ‘The Man in the Moon’ where her love interest falls from his tractor and is smushed by it.

    Anyway, like a few other have said, the grass really is NOT greener. I heard Joyce Meyer say the other day, that the grass is not greener on the other side because if you go to the other side, you still have to mow the grass. I find that she has a point.

    Hang in there.

  15. Socorro
    Socorro says:

    Ay, yay, yay. That is Spanish for Oye Vay. You did better when Melissa was there. You need another friend. The Farmer has to work and won’t stop to talk to you. You need a friend to listen to you.

  16. Diana
    Diana says:

    Dear Pen, look back at your earlier posts not too long ago. You were sure the farm was a great place to raise your kids. You sounded so content. What happened?

    Something that brought my marriage some much needed intimacy was writing notes and letters to each other. Choose a topic, a safe one at first, and both of you write to each other for 15 minutes or so. Then read each others letter. Try to do this every day. Write with love and compassion. Tell each other how you feel.
    This is a guaranteed way to bring you closer and effectively communicate. Please try it!

    And remember, you have 10s of thousands of people who care about you very much and want so much for you to be happy. You are an important part of our lives.
    Love, d.

  17. Leah McClellan
    Leah McClellan says:

    Hi Penelope, Just want to say that the whole post sounds like my marriage, which is now an ex-marriage. That’s not to say yours will be, but people have their patterns and we keep doing the same thing over and over, in the same way, and yeah, it gets crazy.

    Some of the advice sounds good, especially about the timing. Then again, in my marriage, it didn’t matter how/when I approached (or how many months/years we spent in marriage counseling, reading books etc). He wasn’t able to talk–at all, with anyone, really. I’ve accepted that now, but I didn’t back then because I just didn’t understand how that could possibly be. But married people do need to discuss things, and making a marriage work definitely takes some work sometimes.

    I wish you the best with this!

  18. Noelle
    Noelle says:

    I was curious when you decided to move to the farm. I recall you did it for the kids, yes? And didn’t the Farmer first come into your life via your blog?

    I’ve been equally curious about the fact that he now has issues about your openness here. He knew exactly what he was getting into.

    You have vast internal struggles but you keep finding strength within to deal with them. You gave yourself some great advice as you usually do.

    Let me state clearly that I empathize. It feels overwhelming. And i read all of the linked posts, and the links within those. I think I can share an opinion.

    Every person you know, or think you know, or encounter in life has some kind of struggle they are dealing with. The ones who keep quiet about it, either cheerfully or otherwise, have made a firm decision that it will not rule them. They face their duties and carry them out.

    I think it’s great you are starting a business right now! It’s clear you need a place to put your focus and attention. It will ground you.

    I agree with the comments that point out timing of “talks”. But I wonder if you are feeling so alone because when you moved to the farm, you had the expectation of being cherished and all of the warm, romantic associations if living in the country with this strong man have not materialized. You moved there to be taken care if at a time when you were exhausted and penniless. And instead you have more obligations as a farmer’s wife and none of the warmth you hoped for.

    Although it’s clear you are going to great lengths to be heard your message if need is not getting through. He’s not hearing what you say as much as how you are saying it.

    It doesn’t help that he has a rift with his family now, with you at the center. I can hear his frustration and resentment.

    And, of course, the kids are there. Your own pain from childhood was so intense you’ve blacked-out years of your own life. You know you don’t want your kids to have this kind of pain.

    Ah, Penelope. I want to give you a large, warm hug and rock you.

    I don’t have a solution for you, except to say that you need to do two things and they will be hard:

    1) get your attention off of yourself and your inner world, when it comes to your daily life. Plain activity will ground you. Do menial tasks and don’t think while you do them. Spend enough time outside. Go for walks. And don’t think.

    2) find a professional to dig unrelentingly into your past and memories so you can heal yourself. You need to especially dig deep into those areas you don’t recall or feel bemused over. There’s a sleeping volcano in there and a treasure of love waits for you on the other side.

    (((( H U G ))))

      • Noelle Hughes
        Noelle Hughes says:

        Not sure which book you are talking about, unless you were joking. What I read were all of the other posts linked within this post, and the links within those posts as well.

        Penelope, I enjoy your writing very much. Keep swimming!

  19. Wenko
    Wenko says:

    Hi Penelope,

    People rationalize too much. Esp. smart people. Sometimes we don’t need to rationalize everything, sometimes all we need is to love and take care of each other as a family.

    A career and a family life is not the same. With family you don’t need to feel competitive. You just need to be there for each other no matter how bad it looks. You don’t have to prove to anybody that you have the greatest husband or child. We need our family to support us and love us no matter how crazy we are.

    You are very lucky to have the farmer to have accepted your kids and your insanity hehe. Maybe all you need is to just stay put and be there for one another. You don’t have to be happy as in jolly all the time. You can just appreciate each other’s company and be grateful that the kids have parents to love them.

    Don’t worry too much. Your kids are fine and happy. They are not rationalizing you guys. Kids are simple even if they are not dumb. On the other hand, adults like to complicate things and end up fucking up there lives and their family.

    Things don’t need to be complicated, try it as your everyday mantra. ;)

    Rooting for you!

  20. Wenko
    Wenko says:

    Hi Penelope,

    People rationalize too much. Esp. smart people. Sometimes we don’t need to rationalize everything, sometimes all we need is to love and take care of each other as a family.

    A career and a family life is not the same. With family you don’t need to feel competitive. You just need to be there for each other no matter how bad it looks. You don’t have to prove to anybody that you have the greatest husband or child. We need our family to support us and love us no matter how crazy we are.

    You are very lucky to have the farmer to have accepted your kids and your insanity hehe. Maybe all you need is to just stay put and be there for one another. You don’t have to be happy as in jolly all the time. You can just appreciate each other’s company and be grateful that the kids have parents to love them.

    Don’t worry too much. Your kids are fine and happy. They are not rationalizing you guys. Kids are simple even if they are not dumb. On the other hand, adults like to complicate things and end up fucking up there lives and their family.

    Things don’t need to be complicated, try it as your everyday mantra. And note to self, not everyone is happy but we can choose not to be miserable and difficult ;)

    Rooting for you!

  21. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I think the reason that you don’t believe in the strength of family is because your own one let you down so badly. And when your family lets you down, the scars last a lifetime. Careers are not the same, because they’re about you and it’s easier to have faith in yourself than it is to have faith in other people. Especially when other people have already let you down.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yeah. I think that’s true. I was going to email you privately to tell you I think it’s true. Sometimes, truth is so hard to hear that I can’t even acknowledge it in the comments section. Most of the comments here are true, though. And many people have emailed me to say “wow, you’re so lucky to have so many people giving you good advice.”

      I wonder what people do to get faith in other people…


      • smile
        smile says:

        maybe stop doubting them?… and try to begin appreciating more their presence in your life.

        currently struggling with this myself…

      • Kiki
        Kiki says:

        Penelope, it’s true that if you had an insecure childhood where people let you down, you’ll have trouble as a grownup trusting others. But it can be done. To get faith in other people, you must give up trying.


        And I promise you, you’ll be filled with a peace and security and a connection to everything else that completely eclipses our petty notion of trust, which we so want to exist between our frail, broken selves.

        THIS connection, this peace, comes from a greater trust–a trust that what is already in you is magnificent and glorious and whole and perfect already.

        The truth and irony of life is that by letting go, bending, and giving in we become stronger–more free–than we ever could have imagined.

        Love hums along those open lines well. You’ll see a huge improvement in your relationships with other people.

        So have faith in *yourself.* Let go of what you think you need from everyone else. Just be. And let that complete, whole person that is already in you shine.

        God bless you, Penelope.


      • Laura
        Laura says:

        How to have faith in others, my opinion:

        Empathy. You have faith in yourself. Other people on some level are just like you. You might say you can’t relate to others, and that their motivations completely evade you, but it only takes a little creativity to see how people always use the resources they have to make what they think are the best choices they can. Everyone doesn’t always have the same resources or the same thought processes, and sometimes they get it really wrong, but everyone starts out the same and on some level we share the same pain and the same drives. On some level we behave rationally. If you have faith in yourself on any level, you know what is possible for every person.

        Also: I feel like that feeling terrible is pretty normal, it is one of the things that make people keep going. But that doesn’t mean that things really are terrible. Throughout history things have always been just in general much more terrible than they are now. But for the people that lived through it, that level of terrible was just average; you adapt to what you’ve got, and there is always something new (or the same old things) to feel terrible about. But emotions manipulate us. It’s like being in the matrix. So make sure to reality check in order to clearly identify problems and solutions before assuming a cause and effect relationship between them and your emotions. I like to practically prepare a power-point on my personal problems and how I propose to solve them before I even approach other people that are involved. I know this is kind of neurotic, but I feel like it helps me filter my personal crazy and keep it away from the people I care about. Problem solving Laura is all business.

      • brooklynchick
        brooklynchick says:

        If you figure out how to develop faith in people (especially men), let me know. From what I’ve read on the blog, my own family of origin let me down not nearly as much as yours did. In my limited experience, *time* with someone does develop faith. Each time we get the flu and that someone shows up…each time we have a death in the family and the person shows up. Etc. YEARS, I am talking, not months. I don’t know how long you were married to your boys’ dad, but you seem to have developed faith in him as a good dad in his own way, yes? At least enough faith to be civil with him, which is a HIGE accomplishment.

      • Latha
        Latha says:

        I agree that coming from an abusive and/or dysfunctional home does not make it easy to have faith in other people. However, look at the evidence around you. Despite your family of origin, you have a wonderful supportive group of people around – your ex, your work partners and mentors, your husband (I remember the pig post too among others), your new neighbors (with whom you watched the Royal Wedding, your friend the hairstylist, all your loyal readers and cheerleaders. Doesn’t this massive evidence have even a little power to dent the lack of faith that your parents/family of origin engendered in you? Look for evidence, positive proof that can help build your faith in people. You don’t have to look far. We are all around you. And you know what, you built this social support system yourself. That can help you strengthen faith in yourself too. Career, family, farm, school, people are people, honey. And you have the ability to build and sustain strong, loyal, and sustainable relationships. Do not ever forget that! Take care, Penelope.

      • Sarah
        Sarah says:

        In response to the people who pointed out that you don’t have issues trusting people like Melissa, they’re dead right. And I think that’s because she’s not family. I think with your background it’s easy to trust outsiders, if only gradually (I’m thinking here about the teacher who made you call the police).

        I don’t know how to learn to have faith in people, but I’m pretty sure that at some point it involves practicing, so maybe you could try to fake it. Maybe it’s like confidence: if you fake it, you will eventually develop it. Perhaps what you should focus on is the behaviours that come from trusting someone. But like I said, I really don’t know what I’m talking about here.

        And for the record, emails are always welcome. :)

      • Shandra
        Shandra says:

        I have a quirky life where trust has been just the hugest issue ever in many many ways.

        What I’ve learned is this:

        – learn to sit in the space just before giving your trust – where you are not withholding it, but you are watching and listening – rather than bouncing from “trust/no trust.”

        – most people are worthy of some degree of trust

        – ultimately, if someone is not trustworthy, I can handle the fallout…so knowing that, I can choose to trust and just deal if I’m wrong. It’s okay to be wrong. It doesn’t make me a terrible human being.

  22. Carl
    Carl says:

    Melissa being there was taking your attention away from other things that were bothering you. Now they are coming back, no big insight there.

    Men are problem silvers, does the farmer feel worse after your talks? Is that why he’s avoiding the talks? Frame your discussions in a way that doesn’t make him the problem, acknowledge that you’re not asking him to fix something you want him to understand how you feel.

    He can’t fix your insecurities but you can blame him for making them worse, even if you aren’t saying so. Don’t blame him.

    You are a very bright attractive woman, write that down and repeat it to yourself everyday.

  23. S. Miller
    S. Miller says:

    You like to talk. The farmer doesn’t like to talk much. Most of the time this works because he can listen for a little bit of time.

    Because you like to talk, you would like someone to listen more than the farmer can. I think Melissa was doing that. But now that she is gone, you don’t have an extra listener so you seek out the farmer when he is busy. This is not good for the relationship.

  24. Carl
    Carl says:

    I just read your mail bag section and the one about your child hood. You’ve put slot of energy into putting your life together, be proud of that, be proud of your kids and being a good mom.

    My first wife was abused by her dad, it came out in her mid 30’s and 40’s, unfortunately she let alcohol be the medication for many years, they both took a toll on us and our kids.

    Has the farmer ever talked to a therapist who has worked with women that were abused as kids?

    Is he willing to do this? Just wondering.

    My perspective on your writing just took a shift. Keep up the writing, tell the farmer you love him. Appreciate that he has taken you and the kids into his life. Take a deep breath and appreciate being alive, having food on the table and a great place to live.

  25. Don B.
    Don B. says:

    I agree with Elizabeth and others. Consider a new approach to the field approach. Arrive with a cool drink and mention you are sad and would sure like to talk later. Leave it at that. He will worry, try to go over things in his head and spend time thinking as he works. He will become bothered enough that when the hay or the day is done he will be ready. If I were him I would come in cool off and clean up and then take you by the hand and say let’s talk. With training he will learn to do this. Then make sure he is comfortable to lower tension. I liked laying down with my head in her lap looking up. Then talk away. He might fall asleep if the talking goes for hours but that is okay. Find a way to talk. In the meantime try to enjoy what appears to be a great life for you and the boys. Reread the 4H post on selling the hog. Let the clouds clear and enjoy a long beautiful sunset. I sure hope happiness finds you soon, wraps you up and doesn’t let go.

  26. Twister
    Twister says:

    Not that I’m an expert in relationships, but maybe you need to think of communicating with your husband as a “skill you need to learn” rather than “something you are bad at”

    Like all the effort you put into becoming a better communicator in the work place…remember hiring people to refine your image, your handshake, and your walk? You need to put exactly that much effort into your relationship. Then you will be good at talking.

    Good relationships are HARD WORK not because all relationships are difficult, but because you work hard to make them better every day.

  27. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    First, thank you so much for your honesty. It is such a gift to all of us.

    I think you and the Farmer are really good together. I think you love each other. I think the core of your problems — whether they are personal or professional — are about fear.

    What you are afraid of professionally is easy to understand and easy to articulate. ie not getting a job, not being able to make enough money.

    But what you fear personally, that’s not as easy for you to understand. Are you afraid you are not good enough for the farmer? Are you afraid of the day he will no longer be in your life?? Maybe you fear boredom?

    If you didn’t act the way you now act, then what are you afraid will happen?

    I don’t know the answer — I have no idea. But if you could figure out what it is that you are afraid of…that would be a giant step towards changing everything else about your relationship.

    Been there.

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  28. Caitlin McCabe
    Caitlin McCabe says:

    Penelope this post made me laugh out loud and at the same time, I really am so proud of you that you just keep trying to communicate.
    When you stop going out onto that field and throwing yourself in front of a tractor to talk that will really be the bad moment for the relationship. You keep showing up, I like that about you.

  29. smile
    smile says:

    But is there really a larger problem? Or is there just an insecurity? If he can’t feel something, it doesn’t exist for him. No use in talking about something that doesn’t exist, he’d say. But it exists in your head. And couples that fight these ghosts together, become stronger.

    I hope you will find a way to start a talk without the ‘guilt part’ in it. And I really hope he’ll find the will to listen and try to understand.

  30. secretaspie
    secretaspie says:

    You and I have much in common: age, number of kids, Asperger Syndrome, relationship difficulties etc etc.

    And yet even I can see that the farmer and you are acting like children. Your pain is evident: he’s not listening to you and doesn’t want to listen to you, and seems to only want to engage with you on his terms. It’s like a power struggle. It’s crazy – and immature!

    I don’t know if you are wrong together, but I do know you are BEING wrong together. He’s being obnoxious as hell but you are doing something I do when faced with a confrontation: become childlike. “It is very hard for me to keep from falling off.” That is one of the most childlike statements I’ve heard from you – I’m not saying childish, note.

    I cannot believe no one is outraged that a husband effectively nearly ran his wife down with a tractor – that’s so outrageous, it’s abuse. Yes, you were silly to get in front of it but I would imagine you didn’t think he’d do what he did. I’ve literally thought of almost nothing non-stop since I read that. What if you HAD slipped off?! He’s a farmer, he knows all about farm accidents.

    That said, let the man work – if he had a nine to five, you wouldn’t interrupt his day to talk about personal matters, would you?

    You two … you worry me.

  31. Swanwick
    Swanwick says:

    This situation worries me enough that I am writing to you for the first time after reading your blog for over 6 months. My marriage has been through hell the last three years, and I think about leaving every day. I don’t, though, because it definitely would not be the best thing for my two children. I absolutely can’t leave him knowing that AND knowing that he is a good man (with many faults). It sounds like your situation is similar – your children are thriving and the farmer is a good man, but the situation is faulty. Find a way to survive. Dive into work and find some friends to distract you. It has to be hard where you live to find people you have anything in common with – but try. When you get down, think about your children.

  32. redrock
    redrock says:

    maybe the farmer just can’t deal with the drama of intense talks in the middle of the workday? Do these talks ever resolve much or are the just like the same thing over and over and over again and he is trying to avoid the pain of another talk with incredible emotional intensity?

  33. Anhelo
    Anhelo says:

    You have Aspergers. I am schizotypal. I understand your struggle. And I am unemployed too. Regular people will never understand why you have to act this way. But it is because you act this way that you can, at least, enjoy of what this blog brings to your life.

  34. Kat
    Kat says:

    Hi Penelope – what you do reminds me of something I do: when I get upset I need to feel my partner provides emotional support – not by solving my problems but just by saying, “don’t worry it’ll be okay.” So sometimes, if I don’t get I will push his buttons (sort of like it seems you do to the farmer). It’s a way to get a reaction out of him, no matter what the cost…because you feel like you are drowning and rather than helping he is staring with indifference (you think). Meanwhile: in reality, many men have a communications style that drives them to NEED to solve problems in conversations. When they feel they can’t, they feel frustrated.. maybe even useless. Have you ever just told him: look, when I’m upset I know it may not make sense to you but I need you to listen and do THIS (for me it’s a hug, for you – whatever works best).

  35. Jani
    Jani says:

    *le sigh* My post was supposed posted as a general response to you, P, not to whomever I ended up replying to.

    ADD is at it again.

  36. Don C
    Don C says:


    I think you may be wrong – about the skills not being transferable. I’m starting to think they are. As someone having relationship problems myself, I’m only just scratching the surface on these ideas. I don’t have anything deeper than that – just a gut feeling that I’m on to something.

    Good luck – I know how hard it can be…..

  37. Noel
    Noel says:

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned already, but have you ever thought about trying some marital counseling? Sounds like finding a time/way to communicate has been difficult, and sometimes an outside eye can make a huge difference. Just saying.

  38. kareneck
    kareneck says:

    I am so sorry to see you are feeling this way, and I know how it feels. But please try to step back for a moment and give yourself the advice you would give someone else in your position. Stop the crazy-making behaviour with the farmer, let him to his work – €“ men need their tasks and to work out things when they are doing them. You are drowning and pulling him under with you, and he's going to fight it. And this dynamic will not support either of you.

    You grew up in a crazy family and lived in frenetic NYC, and there are a lot of distractions there to keep you from being with yourself. Now you have a loving family that you have created in a quiet place, and I think you need more stimulation. When you are looking for new opportunities and work, make sure you find something that allows you to spend one week a month in NYC, Chicago, or some other big city. (Workshop tour? Seminars for starting businesses? Speaking at bookshops?) It will give you that balance of stimulation and the appreciation of the farm. One of your friends can watch the kids, and you can barter something fabulous from your experience that they need.

    It is unrealistic to expect that you will get everything you need from living on a farm, regardless of how much you love you share with the farmer and your kids. You've already decorated and gardened and goated, and you are going to go nuts thinking about organizing the barn. Go and find the next thing. Your reserach leads you to some interesting places, look there.

  39. Galpin Subaru
    Galpin Subaru says:

    There was a time where I was also hunting for a job and it was really depressing because there was intense competition. I have to respectfully disagree about not eating making you happier. I’m an emotional eater; eating makes me happy. I connect more with food than people.

  40. sarah
    sarah says:

    Nothing kills a relationship quicker than pouting and not talking… wish the farmer appreciated what a special person you sound like.

  41. Nichole@40daysof
    Nichole@40daysof says:

    I had a feeling this was coming when Melissa left. Your buffer is gone. I think you did the majority of all this talking with Melissa. Now that she is gone, it’s the farmer’s turn again and he can’t handle it. I have no idea whether is appropriate or not that he can’t. But I think you need to figure out if all the talking you think you need to do with the farmer is really because you want to talk to him specifically, or do you just want to talk and he’s the only grown up around. I hope it gets better.

  42. Susan Tiner
    Susan Tiner says:

    I like Lisa’s idea of inviting more guests to the farm.

    Lots of comments here note that men aren’t talkers and don’t like being interrupted at work. I would add that in my experience men like to solve problems and tend to see feelings themselves as problems. It might be helpful to brainstorm some possible solutions in your own mind before trying to talk to the farmer. If you start a discussion with possible solutions in mind, you won’t need to focus so much on feelings because you’ll have already made some decisions them, about how you want to cope with them.

  43. haitiangurL
    haitiangurL says:

    You never cease to amaze me… this is exactly what I am feeling today…

    “But I actually feel hopeless. I have that feeling I used to have when I was unemployed. Like I wished the world would end. I think I am not alone – other people have this feeling when they are unemployed. But people do not talk like this when they are unemployed because they'll never get hired.”

    And your right I can’t tell this to any of my friends or family. Its bad enough now every time they see me, I get the same damn question – how’s the job hunt going? I’m not going to my nephew’s birthday party this Saturday because I’m afraid if someone ask me that again, I’m going to overturn the table with the goddamn birthday and walk out!

    I wish they would just wait for me to say something about it. As if I got a job or an interview wouldn’t say anything duh? Why not quietly slip me a $10 or a $20 and just tell me to hang in there. Now that would be nice and truly, truly appreciated….

  44. canoe girl
    canoe girl says:

    Men hate "talking". Talking things out under stress is a female thing which helps us feel better. Men like doing things and fixing stuff when they are unhappy or stressed. Ask the farmer to help you with something around the house and I am sure he will comply. It might help him with the stress he feels enough to at least listen to you.

  45. Sadya
    Sadya says:

    There are far too many generalizations in the comments. All men are…all farmers are…. It’s just a set of people with two very difficult communication styles.
    Does failure frighten you? Do you keep thinking about the worst case scenario? You know maybe you don’t have to feel so fatalistic about the whole thing.
    In my attempt to make you feel better I’m gonna say the farmer is an emotionally unavailable prick. What’s his excuse? His family let him down only recently.

  46. Kathryn C
    Kathryn C says:

    I think if you were giving yourself advice you’d tell yourself to not look for “the perfect fix.”

    Meaning, when I’m down I let myself wallow for a bit then I get so tired of myself that I have no choice but to fix it. But, when I try to fix something when I haven’t embraced my miserableness, I’ve found that it doesn’t get fixed any faster. I’d embrace your feeling of hopelessness instead of trying to search for a specific solution…don’t fight it and don’t beat yourself up, you’ll turn it around eventually, it will come to you. You know you will.

  47. satchmo
    satchmo says:

    Your husband almost ran over you with a tractor. Any other details are irrelevant. Deal breaker.

  48. tcd
    tcd says:

    Have you considered doing those things that parents do with kids for interruptions….

    Perhaps you and the Farmer could trade beans/painted rocks/whatever for time talking. Then you both know that your time has to really count. You get 3 beans a day; each bean represents one 10min conversation. He gets 3 beans a day for a free 1 hour delay.

    You know that you will get to talk to him and he can’t just fob you off forever. He knows that he can delay conversations, but not indefinitely, but enough to clear the field or get the pigs fed without interruption.

    He knows that you won’t do this to him 18 times that day, so if you want to use a bean at 8am, he isn’t already thinking that this will be conversation 1 of 100 and totally shut down.

    Make your time/beans count. Then when you are feeling crazy, and you want to jump in front of the tractor, and use a bean, he will know it's actually important.


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