I’m frustrated that I have so much traffic coming to this blog (about 750,000 page views this month) and I have this post about domestic violence at the top spot in my blog. It’s the first thing everyone sees about me. I want the post to go away. I want to post about how to write a resume in five easy steps. People love lists.

If it weren’t that I’ve already blogged about sex abuse, my miscarriage and my divorce, I’d worry that my blog will never get past the topic of domestic violence, and I’ll face blogger doom. But I know from past experience that being genuine with other people helps one’s career get stronger.

Someone wrote in the comments section that there is no domestic violence, there is only violence. But that’s not true. Because domestic violence is the violence that’s hard to walk away from.

I’m not walking away from the Farmer right now. I want to say that I’ll leave if he does it again. I want to say that if he pushes me or shoves me or hits me, that all that stuff counts as abuse. It’s hard for me to believe that it counts; I didn’t believe my dad was abusing me even when the police were taking me away.

But I have hundreds of you telling me in the comments section and in your emails that this is not right.

And I know that even if I’m messed up, I don’t want my sons messed up. If it happens again I think I could hide it from everyone, you, my sons, my brothers–they called me to tell me to leave. I could refuse to tell anyone, and do this whole messed up relationship in private. I know people do that. But I know it would show, on me.

When I was practicing cello with my son a few nights ago, I said, “Don’t look at me. Look at your bow.”

And he said, “I’m looking to see if you’re smiling. You never smile.”

I know I am not hiding anything.

So maybe what is left for me is that I can be the expert on not hiding.

I got offers from all over the world for places to stay. Finland, Pakistan, Brazil. It’s unbelievable, really, how many people offered up their homes and their guest houses to me and my sons. And about fifty people who I have never met in person told me I can call them if I need someone to talk to. I have very few close friends, so the offers meant a lot to me.

I called one person: Amanda Hite. I have met her a couple of times. She is a straight shooter and a little callous, so I knew that if I started being a crazy, crying nutcase on the phone, she’d handle it. Also, she works for herself, so I thought it might be fine to call her with no notice in the middle of the day.

I told Amanda I can’t leave because I don’t want to raise the boys alone, and I know I’ll never put them through another marriage again if this one doesn’t work, and they love the Farmer. They call him dad.

Amanda was adamant that if the Farmer touches me again–in anger–I should leave, with the boys. “Just for 30 days,” is what she finally said.

I can do that. I have a friend in New York City. Lisa. She has an extra bedroom in her apartment. She’ll let us stay. She doesn’t know she’s part of the plan. Until now. Amanda says that during those 30 days, enough people will call me and convince me to leave for good. I think that’s probably true.

Amanda is a recruiter, but she is a consulting recruiter. She spends her time trying to get people to be honest about why their recruiting sucks so that she can help them fix it. Most people who say they need help with recruiting blame the candidate pool, or the jobs they have, or other, external factors. Amanda helps them to take responsibility and be honest about their problem.

I’m drawn to her because that’s my message here on this blog: face your problems with honesty. So I want to tell you that I am terrible at intimacy. I don’t think I’ve ever done it, ever. I’m not even sure what it is. And I don’t think I need to tell you that the Farmer has no idea what it is, either.

So we are in twice-a-week therapy. And maybe we will learn something. Maybe we will save ourselves, and the boys and our family. Or maybe we are just in the middle of a cycle of abuse.

It is my hope that this blog will keep me honest, and that the next time, I will leave.

245 replies
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    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      And that’s why she didn’t write about this before–because she knew that people shy away from difficult or depressing subjects. 

    • Shandra
      Shandra says:

      I think the idea that only positive energy is the only thing people need is kind of toxic to getting things done, for real. In my office I am sure there are people dealing with this kind of thing. Plus, sometimes you need to be critical to create a better product.

      Decision-making and working with people is complex and I appreciate the realness, myself.

  1. janibowe
    janibowe says:

    It’s pretty hard to fix a problem long-term if you aren’t honest with yourself, so you’ve got that going for you. Here’s to hoping that therapy helps heal your marriage to the point where violence is a thing of the past…and that smiling is a more frequent occurrence.

  2. guest
    guest says:

    For me, your blog has always been about honesty, and I read it because it reminds me to be honest with myself and with others about myself.

  3. redrock
    redrock says:

    …and you did not know it differently when you were abused as a child, it was normal to you; only someone looking in from the outside was able to see it. So, it is much the same for your kids: they think this cycle of shouting, forcing, pushing emotionally and physically is normal. Having half a family can indeed be better then having one complete family in a vicious cycle.

  4. Yuse L.
    Yuse L. says:

    Not to be insensitive, but could we get the career advice and lists back? You know we are off topic when most links in the latest post point to other drama-laden posts : (

      • Mark Wiehenstroer
        Mark Wiehenstroer says:

        I’m glad you decided to do a follow-up post in a relatively short period of time addressing the issues brought up in the previous post. You didn’t leave us hanging over the weekend regarding this drama and wondering how you were doing.

      • Guest
        Guest says:

        It’s actually quite on topic career-wise for me, as I’m a stay-at-home mom and aspiring writer living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, with an alcoholic husband I’ve considered leaving (and in doing so would put the writing on hold to be a single mother). The resume and interview and colleague/boss-relationship posts are interesting, but these “personal” posts are more valuable to me. As our home support network is a vital part of anyone’s career, I think the posts are perfectly on-topic for most people.

  5. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    It’s my impression that “intimacy” comes in all flavors. Would agree with me, that you have a deep and close relationship with your sons? That it’s honest and loving?

    Also, I can’t imagine your blog being any more intimate. You hold nothing back. Many of us know you now. And love you, in sort of an intimate way.

    Irv

  6. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    It’s my impression, Penelope, that “intimacy” comes in all flavors. Would you agree with
    me, that you have a deep and close relationship with your sons? That
    it’s honest and loving?

    Also, I can’t imagine your blog being any
    more intimate. You hold nothing back. Or or seems that way. Many of us know you now. Or think we do. And we love
    you, in sort of an intimate way.

    Irv

  7. Shandra
    Shandra says:

    Whether or not you stay honest with the blog or because of the blog, I hope you do stay honest with yourself, and I hope the therapy helps with that. I also hope you remember that knowing when to quit and when to stay is tricky in the workplace, trickier in marriage – but makes all the difference in one’s career & life.

    I think Amanda is dead-on with her advice.

    For the boys…it is hard. If you think the Farmer is the kind of person you want your kids to have in their lives, there are probably ways to do that even if you guys separate. Without vilifying him though I do want to note that one thing I think is really important in fathering both boys and girls is that the father (or father figure) teaches them what to expect – from themselves, if boys, and from men, if girls. I am sure the Farmer realizes this too, and I hope the therapy helps. (It’s true for mothers too, of course.)

  8. Misslaurem
    Misslaurem says:

    I know that when you respond to someone in crisis you are supposed to give helpful advice and not make it about yourself. In this case I hope what I’m saying comes out clearly anyway.

    After growing up in therapy as a great kid, great student, never getting in trouble, always trying to prove, prove, prove to my parents that I was worthy of their love which led to a cycle of semi-abusive to full on abusive relationships it culminated in an almost 4 year cycle of abuse with one man. Next time, next time, I said, as I was being flung off the porch. This is the last time, I said, as all of my belongings were thrown out into the rain and the middle of the street. Next time you grab me, next time I’m locked in the bathroom, next time you throw my birthday gift I bought for myself with my own money “from you” because you are broke at me. The dogs need a yard, I can’t afford an apartment on my own, but he can be so sweet, and on and on. I knew I would never have children with him because of the way he treated me and our dogs. I didn’t believe it could be different – nice guys in magazine stories were so far away from life as to be meaningless. Oh, and I never told anyone about any of it.

    Then one day I realized that I felt nothing. And I started looking for an apartment I could afford. And I moved out “temporarily.” And as Amanda said, within 30 days, it didn’t even take people calling me, I figured it out on my own. And one day I met a guy and he was nice and we took it slow and two years later I know he would never hit me, never push me, it would never even cross his mind to harm me in any way. And I’m almost tearing up thinking about it because I didn’t think life could be like this but it is. You have options and even though I’m not really religious, I’ll pray for you just in case it helps.

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Your sons love him now. But if they see him hurt you very often, there’s a good chance that they eventually won’t, and in fact will want to defend you against him.

    Either that or they’ll lose respect for you for not standing up to him.

    I hope that the therapy helps, and that you two are able to create a partnership together. 

  10. Stacy
    Stacy says:

    Leave…right now. You belong in NYC. The boys will be fine. They already have a father. In fact I think you should leave them with their father and then come to NYC for a month. This will give you time to think about what to do next.

  11. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I know you can get through this, with the Farmer – if that’s what you want.  You need to accept your part in the domestic abuse.  I wonder if it would hurt your feelings if the Farmer said, “if Penelope says fuck again, I’m going to leave”.  I know this isn’t the equivalent to pushing and shoving, but what you confessed in your previous post does show that you are one of the two people who are guilty of domestic abuse in your household.  I would hazard to say that most people are guilty, and this includes me.

    Also, I think you need to consider this newer relationship in your life in a separate light from your relationship with your Dad.  This is a relationship between two consenting, intelligent adults, so everything is different.  I’m glad that you write how you are willing to forgive the unforgivable.  I think you will need this attribute again and again, but also – the Farmer may need it with you.  This is part of the love equation.

    It’s sad to see someone who has inspired me so much in my own path have a stumbling block.   Please get through this and continue with all of zillions of things you are up to.  I love reading your blog, no matter what the content..

  12. Amsciint
    Amsciint says:

    Penelope,

    Here’s what you don’t understand — and apparently no one else understands, either:  It’s chemistry.  Biochemistry.

    You and the farmer both don’t have enough of one particular [element, molecule, compound, call it waht you want].

    That substance is what breaks down adrenaline.

    Every time you and he get into even the smallest disagreement, the adrenaline — in both of you — jumps way up.  And stays way up.

    Too much adrenaline.  Got it?

    So . . . what is this substance that breaks it down?  I’ll be more than happy to tell you, if you get in touch with me.  You can see the e-mails ‘behind’ these postings, right?

    But.  From what I’ve seen so far, you have exactly no interest whatsoever in chemistry, biochemistry, biological chemistry.  Call it what you want.  “I only eat power bars” pretty much says it all.  You might as well say, “I have no clue and I don’t want even one.”

    I know of a woman who is distraught because her husband has diabetes and Alzheimer’s and his bones are getting weaker and weaker.  She gives him 3, 4, 5 (I don’t know) prescription meds a day.  And wrings her hands about what’s happening to him. But will she give him even the simplest B-vitamin complex?  (AllBee with C is recommended even by Luddite medical professionals.)  No.  Because she hasn’t learned anything about chemistry-biochemistry-etc. and she doesn’t plan to. 

    You and the farmer need help.  But the help you need, to start with, is only one single piece of very simple chemistry.

  13. Rrm
    Rrm says:

    I hope you can see how amazing you are.  I am involved with women who fight domestic violence.  Most women are not honest about it or open about it.  You are unique.  You are facing it and talking about it and not hiding from it.  I am guessing that there are A LOT of women reading this post eating up every word you are saying about your life.  You won’t see any comments from them because they are scared.  But you give them hope that maybe if you and your sons not only survive this, but are better because of it, then there is hope for them also.  Your honesty becomes their honesty.  You are writing what they wish they could say. 

  14. Rrm
    Rrm says:

    I hope you can see how amazing you are.  I am involved with women who fight domestic violence.  Most women are not honest about it or open about it.  You are unique.  You are facing it and talking about it and not hiding from it.  I am guessing that there are A LOT of women reading this post eating up every word you are saying about your life.  You won’t see any comments from them because they are scared.  But you give them hope that maybe if you and your sons not only survive this, but are better because of it, then there is hope for them also.  Your honesty becomes their honesty.  You are writing what they wish they could say. 

  15. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    Of course your sons love the Farmer. They’re children and children fall in love easily compared to adults. It’s only natural that you don’t want to break their hearts by leaving a man that they also love.

    Unfortunately, this may be one of those teaching situations so frequently mentioned by old people. Your sons must learn that when someone they love hurts people, especially their family, that they need to end the relationship. Hopefully, your sons will learn to end toxic relationships. Ending toxic relationships stops the cycle of abuse. And, yeah, it’s gonna suck but sometimes life sucks.

  16. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    Of course your sons love the Farmer. They’re children and children fall in love easily compared to adults. It’s only natural that you don’t want to break their hearts by leaving a man that they also love.

    Unfortunately, this may be one of those teaching situations so frequently mentioned by old people. Your sons must learn that when someone they love hurts people, especially their family, that they need to end the relationship. Hopefully, your sons will learn to end toxic relationships. Ending toxic relationships stops the cycle of abuse. And, yeah, it’s gonna suck but sometimes life sucks.

  17. writer
    writer says:

    I recently read a book that gave some advice for recognizing and avoiding sociopaths (not that I’m saying anyone involved in this story is one– bear with me) and it gave the RULE OF THREE. Once can be an accident, twice can be a bad mistake, but THREE times is a sign that it’s time to get away.

  18. writer
    writer says:

    I recently read a book that gave some advice for recognizing and avoiding sociopaths (not that I’m saying anyone involved in this story is one– bear with me) and it gave the RULE OF THREE. Once can be an accident, twice can be a bad mistake, but THREE times is a sign that it’s time to get away.

  19. Marg11
    Marg11 says:

    Needless to say, your last blog was heart breaking…mostly because you constantly say how bad you are at intimacy, yet you seem to crack open the most hardened heat…with your quest for sweetness in family life. That is more intimate on an interpersonal level than most people ever achieve. Maybe you are bad at being out of emotional pain. I wish you freedom from the pain…but one Wife/Mother to another…it is a long road.

  20. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    I hope that we (I) can serve as the mirror you need.  It is a heck of a responsibility but, the more honest you are, I’m sure the more true will be the reflection. 

    That said…

    Intimacy is about boundaries.  It requires that there are some things that are only for you and the person with whom you are intimate.    Do you and the farmer have any boundaries that are for the two of you alone?

    What if the therapist says you cannot write about your marital problems on your blog?  Would you pick your blog…or the farmer?

    Even though the drama gets huge page views, I want you to know that those who really care about you and respect you will stay with you without it…and your numbers will still be huge.  You’re that good.  Believe it. 

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

    • thatgirl
      thatgirl says:

      Excellent points all!

      I agree with Amy–we would read you, and be your community, even if writing about your marriage became off-limits. It is a potential, helpful compromise in bringing peace to your home, while you figure out a communications style with the Farmer that both of you practice, and leaves you both feeling respected.

      And for those who chastise Penelope for writing about her home life, she’s practiced a bit of truth in advertising when she describes her writing as the intersection between work and life. Try to be more forgiving when one takes over. If you cannot, don’t bother to write a comment. Wait for a column to which you don’t feel the need to post damning things. It’s not constructive to anyone, and it only points to one’s need to bully another.

  21. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    I hope that we (I) can serve as the mirror you need.  It is a heck of a responsibility but, the more honest you are, I’m sure the more true will be the reflection. 

    That said…

    Intimacy is about boundaries.  It requires that there are some things that are only for you and the person with whom you are intimate.    Do you and the farmer have any boundaries that are for the two of you alone?

    What if the therapist says you cannot write about your marital problems on your blog?  Would you pick your blog…or the farmer?

    Even though the drama gets huge page views, I want you to know that those who really care about you and respect you will stay with you without it…and your numbers will still be huge.  You’re that good.  Believe it. 

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

    • Areddingfield
      Areddingfield says:

      I agree with Amy.  I  think it is self sabotaging to Penelope and her marriage by discussing these abuse issues in her blog.  The farmer has no way of airing out his side without getting sucked into this public train wreck.  Although I think Penelope is a great blogger, I feel that in order for her to work things out, she has to communicate and work out her marriage on an equal footing with her husband. 

      By airing her issues out like this, her husband will feel like there is no where for him to go without people judging him.  Penelope is being judged as well but she chose this for herself by writing about her personal issues in her blog.  If they really are living in a small town, this must make it very difficult for her husband. 

      Look at what happened on “Real Houswives of Beverly Hills,”  with Taylor and her husband.  He committed suicide.  It is difficult enough to be going through bad times without someone following you and making things worse by blogging about it or making it into a tv show. 

      I enjoy reading Penelope’s blog and thinks she has good career advice but for the sake of her marriage and self respect, I think she ought to handle it without destroying her husband.  The children already have a relationship with him and this could scar the children.  It seems easy to vent, and if this were anonymous then so be it.  However, it is very clear who she, her husband and her children are.  Where they live, etc. There are photos, names of locations.   

      Is this really fair to her children, her husband, etc..?  How is this going to play out later, if she decides to stay in the marriage?  What if she leaves her husband but still wants to keep in contact with him because the children love him.

      Penelope is a smart and sophisticated lady.  I don’t think this is a cry for help, or a need for public consensus because she supposedly doesn’t have any close friends.  I do admire Penelope for her savvy but sometimes being clever is not the same as having wisdom, especially in this situation.

      I sympathize with anyone who is going through an abusive situation, however, as a grown, educated, woman…one does have choices in life. 

  22. Tattoo55
    Tattoo55 says:

    Just because we haven’t met you doesn’t mean we don’t know you! Or wouldn’t be beside ourselves if anything happened to you. 

    Good Luck.

  23. Tattoo55
    Tattoo55 says:

    Just because we haven’t met you doesn’t mean we don’t know you! Or wouldn’t be beside ourselves if anything happened to you. 

    Good Luck.

  24. Jeff Fearn
    Jeff Fearn says:

    I wish you and your sons the best.  I agree with your concern about the impact of what you are currently going through might have on your sons.  And yes, you most likely can’t hide anything from your sons.  Just remember that they love you.

    I am not so sure that you should leave unless you really feel that you are in physical danger.  Would getting a restraining order help?  If not, and if you feel you or your sons are in physical or serious emotional danger then take Amanda’s advice and get far out of range.

    Best to you and your sons.  Take care of yourself and them and that desire to take care of yourself and them needs to be what guides you in the near term.

  25. Jeff Fearn
    Jeff Fearn says:

    I wish you and your sons the best.  I agree with your concern about the impact of what you are currently going through might have on your sons.  And yes, you most likely can’t hide anything from your sons.  Just remember that they love you.

    I am not so sure that you should leave unless you really feel that you are in physical danger.  Would getting a restraining order help?  If not, and if you feel you or your sons are in physical or serious emotional danger then take Amanda’s advice and get far out of range.

    Best to you and your sons.  Take care of yourself and them and that desire to take care of yourself and them needs to be what guides you in the near term.

  26. Mtart
    Mtart says:

    Penelope…Tough times, tough decisions.  Having a “pause” like a 30 day hiatus can only bring you clarity and peacefulness.  Take it!  If you decide you want to  go back and try to work things out – so be it.  If you decide you need more time – take it.  If you decide I am done with living in fear and sending the wrong message to your sons about how a man should treat a woman – Bravo…I am not unbiased as a survivor of abuse.  I send you lots of healing and loving energy …

  27. Mtart
    Mtart says:

    Penelope…Tough times, tough decisions.  Having a “pause” like a 30 day hiatus can only bring you clarity and peacefulness.  Take it!  If you decide you want to  go back and try to work things out – so be it.  If you decide you need more time – take it.  If you decide I am done with living in fear and sending the wrong message to your sons about how a man should treat a woman – Bravo…I am not unbiased as a survivor of abuse.  I send you lots of healing and loving energy …

  28. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I feel the same way, about intimacy.  There are a few friends that I consider very very good friends, but when we’re together it feels as if there’s a wall up, like there’s a sort of awkwardness to us.  And I just went to England for a week, and nearly cried on the last night for the few people in my life who have really been honest to god friends at the different stages in my life but are now 3000 miles away.

    About domestic violence, I think it must be far more complex than it seems when you watch “What’s Love Got to Do With It” at 12 and your mother tells you if any man ever does that to you, come straight home, and in your naivety think, ha! if any man does that to me he’ll be sorry.  My friend had a boyfriend who gave her a few good bruises, and when she googled him a rape report was the first thing that came up, but now he’s creeping back into her life.  And I have a boyfriend that has punched walls, so the danger there is to just think well is it a man thing?  But of course it isn’t, it can’t be, right?  No matter how difficult we may be to live with…  

    Whatever you decide to do, just think of all the people that have or would ask for your autograph in grocery stores and in gym locker rooms, and that respect and love you, not whether you write about resume tips or domestic violence but because you write about them both, and everything else.

  29. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I feel the same way, about intimacy.  There are a few friends that I consider very very good friends, but when we’re together it feels as if there’s a wall up, like there’s a sort of awkwardness to us.  And I just went to England for a week, and nearly cried on the last night for the few people in my life who have really been honest to god friends at the different stages in my life but are now 3000 miles away.

    About domestic violence, I think it must be far more complex than it seems when you watch “What’s Love Got to Do With It” at 12 and your mother tells you if any man ever does that to you, come straight home, and in your naivety think, ha! if any man does that to me he’ll be sorry.  My friend had a boyfriend who gave her a few good bruises, and when she googled him a rape report was the first thing that came up, but now he’s creeping back into her life.  And I have a boyfriend that has punched walls, so the danger there is to just think well is it a man thing?  But of course it isn’t, it can’t be, right?  No matter how difficult we may be to live with…  

    Whatever you decide to do, just think of all the people that have or would ask for your autograph in grocery stores and in gym locker rooms, and that respect and love you, not whether you write about resume tips or domestic violence but because you write about them both, and everything else.

  30. Helen
    Helen says:

    I think it`s important for us all to explore these topics.  It reminds us that Penelope Trunk is not sitting up on some high mountain top dispensing advice on how to handle our lives and careers without living a real life herself.  This is as real as it gets, and I appreciate it when people share their difficulties as well as their successes!  Otherwise I feel like I am some horrible failure and think that everyone else is doing it better than I am.  I appreciate your honesty Penelope.  What you are going through is very difficult, and I am glad that you came back and told us what you are going to do/not going to do, whether generally people agree with you or not.  There are reasons you are staying, and I hope you both can work this out to your mutual satisfaction.  If you feel you must leave, you will know when that time is right.  I know that with your whole `high acheiver` complex, you want to explore every avenue to work this out before you decide to make the big leap, if it comes to that at all.  Just keep listening to yourself.  Your gut will tell you which way to go.  I think I understand where your head is at.  Just  please, please, please, make sure that if you feel that you must go, then do it and don`t let fear of failure hold you back.

  31. Helen
    Helen says:

    I think it`s important for us all to explore these topics.  It reminds us that Penelope Trunk is not sitting up on some high mountain top dispensing advice on how to handle our lives and careers without living a real life herself.  This is as real as it gets, and I appreciate it when people share their difficulties as well as their successes!  Otherwise I feel like I am some horrible failure and think that everyone else is doing it better than I am.  I appreciate your honesty Penelope.  What you are going through is very difficult, and I am glad that you came back and told us what you are going to do/not going to do, whether generally people agree with you or not.  There are reasons you are staying, and I hope you both can work this out to your mutual satisfaction.  If you feel you must leave, you will know when that time is right.  I know that with your whole `high acheiver` complex, you want to explore every avenue to work this out before you decide to make the big leap, if it comes to that at all.  Just keep listening to yourself.  Your gut will tell you which way to go.  I think I understand where your head is at.  Just  please, please, please, make sure that if you feel that you must go, then do it and don`t let fear of failure hold you back.

  32. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Have you thought about the very real possibility that you could lose your children for subjecting them to the violence in your home? That, in a huge way, is a form of child abuse and many family law courts will step in and remove children from homes where DV is occurring. (as they should)
    It happened to me. I thought I was the one taking on the abuse, but in reality, my children suffered just as much, if not more, than me.  Not to mention the emotional absence they experienced as I struggled with my own issues and focused primarily on my mate (to keep peace – ha). I was so blind to what I was doing to them. As much as I hated him at the time, I appreciate the effort my ex-husband put into legally intervening and fighting for full custody of our children. Even while the court battle was raging on, I was trying to justify why I kept giving my abuser (live in boyfriend) the benefit of a doubt and stayed. imagine losing custody of your children. Choosing an abusive relationship over your children is a monumental horror to accept when it is all said and done.
    LEAVE
    Not for yourself (whom you are incapable of taking care of at this time) but for your boys. Violence in relationships is a destructive force that leaves a permanent mark on our psyche.
    Let them stay with their father while you work on you – away from the farmer.
    Honesty is the understanding that the cycle you are living in will NOT change until your life has changed dramatically.
    Good luck

    • sandbalance
      sandbalance says:

      This is true. When I was a family reunification social worker, I worked with a family where the children were in foster care because the children were exposed to domestic violence. Failure to protect one’s children from witnessing child abuse can be grounds for the state to intervene.

      Of course lack of contact with mandated reporters (teachers, police, health care providers, child care providers) reduces the likelihood of the matter coming to the attention of the authorities.

      • Anonymous
        Anonymous says:

        Which is why some avoid putting their kids in day-care, or sending them to school. Not all, of course, but some for sure. I’m guessing you agree with me, by reading into your post.

  33. Nana
    Nana says:

    It is very difficult to walk away from something that is good (sometimes) because that is all you have to hold on to, the good.  But, the bad, if it get’s bad enough, can kill you.  It can kill your kids. I was in an abusive relationship.  I was miserable, sick and scared 99% of the time but, that 1% when things were good, well, it fooled me into thinking things could work out.  I don’t honestly know what gave me the strength to finally say enough is enough, but I did.  It was so liberating and empowering.  Now, I am in a good marriage with a good man who everyone loves.  I can hardly remember the times before I knew him.  He does not scare me, or bully me, or imprisson me.  He lifts me up most of the time.  Sometimes he just holds me up.  Sometimes he just stands there and waits to catch me when I fall. 

    You can stop the cycle but, you have to have taken enough and put a stop to it.  Whether you walk away or make him leave, or work things out, if you believe in yourself and your own self worth, you will do it.

  34. Evy
    Evy says:

    Pen, If this experience pushes you into therapy, I am delighted for you.  Really and truly.

    I wanted this for you all along.

    Please for the sake of that smart, musical, honest, observant little boy and his brother be TOTALLY honest with your therapist.  Do not hide anything.  Ever.  If you do, you are wasting your time, money, chance and opportunity to finally face up to what happened to you and the consequences to you and your boys.

    If anyone, anywhere has thought that what happened to you as a child and adolescent was abuse, tell the therapist.  All the details.  ALL!  If he or she doesn’t seem to register it, say it again, as many times as it takes for it to be registered.

    I have told you about my abuse.  I had to be in therapy for years before I could figure out how to choose people who didn’t hit me.  I am still working on recognizing people who abuse me emotionally.  One of the worst emotional abusers in my life is ME.  I cannot leave myself behind, so I am getting retrained.  Or trying to be.

    You are a smart woman.  Me, too.  

    You are an emotional idiot, or if there is something dumber than than idiot, it, too.  I was, too.  I am getting somewhat better about my ability to understand and handle my emotions and, therefore, other people’s emotions.  You have a lot of work to do.  It doesn’t go fast.

    For your boys, you must do the work.  

    Stay away from your dad.  Maybe your mom, too.  Discuss contact with them with your therapist.

    After my dad died, thank God, I committed myself to therapy.  It isn’t easy or fun.

    At one point, my therapist asked me whether I had noticed that every time, EVERY TIME, I spent any time around my mother, I spent the entire next therapy session talking about suicide.  Why, no, I hadn’t noticed a thing.  

    Being sexually abused as a child can render a person blind to their own behavior.  In my therapy, I have known many, many other incest survivors.  Blindness to self is standard in abuse survivors, not just sexual abuse survivors.

    Your honesty may save you and your boys from the consequences of your being abused as a child.

    Twice a week therapy sounds excellent to me.

    Get in there and do the emotional work, woman.  Your boys depend on you.

    If talking to me would do anything positive for you, I am here.  I will send you my phone number separately.  Since you are in therapy, I am happy to talk with you.

    Hugs and love abundant blessings,

    Courage, my brave one,

    Evy

    Anyone who wants to tell P. or me that abuse doesn’t happen, isn’t so bad, etc; shut up, please,  Go talk to yourself.  I am not going to waste my time and mental energy on you.  She shoudn’t either.  My opinion.

    The people who knew my father closely, never doubted me when I began to talk about what he did.

  35. drunicus
    drunicus says:

    If I ever am in a disagreement with someone who’s out of control, I walk away.
    The alternatives involve hefty legal bills, expensive lawsuits, or the even more dangerous environment of
    prison (and once the police are called
    for a domestic violence incident, there’s a good chance, particularly for men, of prison). Really really bad things like rape from an HIV carrier can happen to a man in prison.
    It’s very difficult for many people to forgive or regain trust after an assault or an affair or financial strain.
    And it’s also very difficult to find a good partner, or to weather the financial and emotional hell of divorce.
    So think for a bit (not too long) about what’s best, which is not necessarily about who’s right or who’s in the wrong.

  36. drunicus
    drunicus says:

    If I ever am in a disagreement with someone who’s out of control, I walk away.
    The alternatives involve hefty legal bills, expensive lawsuits, or the even more dangerous environment of
    prison (and once the police are called
    for a domestic violence incident, there’s a good chance, particularly for men, of prison). Really really bad things like rape from an HIV carrier can happen to a man in prison.
    It’s very difficult for many people to forgive or regain trust after an assault or an affair or financial strain.
    And it’s also very difficult to find a good partner, or to weather the financial and emotional hell of divorce.
    So think for a bit (not too long) about what’s best, which is not necessarily about who’s right or who’s in the wrong.

      • Pen
        Pen says:

        I think the commenter is probably a man who is saying he walks away rather than getting violent because the consequences for violence can extend to prison (and in prison bad things can happen, such as rape).

  37. Lisaajb
    Lisaajb says:

    I am so glad you’ve found a way for you to move forward. For me, moving forward was leaving. I guess that may not be what you or the Farmer need. But you’re taking steps in the right direction. I hope that you stick with your plan. And I don’t think your boys will be messed up. They’ve got an incredibly strong mom who loves them like crazy and I’m sure they see and know that. Hugs.

  38. Sboilesen
    Sboilesen says:

    I missed your post about the violence. And a big lump is in my throat now when I hear about it. Domestic Violence is the cruelest assault against women and childen. And those who advised you to leave are correct. It probably won’t stop. It will most likely get worse. And if its your boys you are worried about, think about this. They are learning how to be abusive toward women by watching you get abused. Is that what you really want? Leave now. Love your children and show them how they should behave in the world. They will be fine.  You will be fine. Otherwise the cycle will continue to turn. 

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      I really think you are right. And I think this is something that will resonate with Penelope. Even if the violence subsides, if the dysfunctional relationship continues, it will have a similar effect on the children. I’m pretty sure that even if this episode of DV isn’t because of a continuing cycle, being exposed to it while growing up is a sure-fire way to bury it inside for later years, kind of like a dormant virus waiting for the right conditions to activate.

  39. Garrett
    Garrett says:

    Why did you get involved with someone who can’t process his feelings? Why would you invest yourself and your family in that kind of deal? 

    How can any of this be a surprise? 

    You must have known that inability to communicate (in BOTH partners) makes a healthy long term relationship very unlikely. 

    This is a corner you’ve painted yourself into. 
    You moved your family in with him. You knew what you were getting in to. 

    Now you have an army of people who blindly support you even though they’ve only heard one side of the story. 

    What does the farmer have? 

    Doesn’t the man who your boys call dad deserve some voice or consideration here? 
    Are you saying that the farmer has shown some incidents of physical ‘abuse’ but you’ve Never shown him any sort of abuse? 

    • Diana
      Diana says:

      Why are you bashing Penelope and blaming her for this? How long have you been reading her Blog? are you aware she has Asperger’s and as a result has difficulty with intimacy? Farmer knew this from the beginner. It was up to BOTH of them to adjust for that. he did not.
      Please do not say she is painted in a corner, you make it sound hopeless. It is ALWAYS possible to leave an abusive relationship, and staying in one that is failing to improve is very unhealthy for the boys and for Pen.
      Pen, I am not following whether this has turned physical; it is late and I cannot see the screen. If it has, I am telling you it is time to get out. Have you been fully honest with the therapist? Is the therapist fully vetted for this type of marriage problem and if so, how so? IF these are yes answers and you are comfortable there, great. If not, something else must be done.
      I am a survivor of an abusive spouse. I volunteer now to help other women in my community. You have my email. Send me a note, I will be happy to message with you further or send you my # to talk.
      More later. xoxoxo Diana

  40. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I just want to say congratulations to both of you for being in twice a week therapy. I think that says something great about both of you–and that matters as much as all the hard/terrible stuff that’s been happening too.

  41. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Many women, let me say many strong, independent women get themselves into this situation. I have a son and I was a single Mom for 12 years before I met someone and felt like… “finally, I don’t have to be alone, bear all the responsibility alone, have someone to talk to, do things with, feel what it’s like to have a real family”. I put my rose colored glasses on and dove head first into a mess. My ability to create a wonderful story full of expectations in my head fogged up the truth. The reality was, I paid for most everything, did all the housework, shared my home and time with him and his child. Took care of them and watched as my precious time with my own child went by the wayside. The story is too long to account. But the end of the story is like this. My marriage lasted 4 months, I woke up and saw the mess I made, my fault, my problem. I kicked him out. Paid for the divorce and even though the mistake cost on many levels. I’m free, I’m fine, my son is fine and it’s staying that way. I haven’t been able to see the benefits of marriage, now and I wish I could. I come from parents that married when they were 19 and stayed together. Why couldn’t I have figured out their secret? But I’m sure that’s also my problem. So, Penelope, you have to have more money than I have. Your kids will be fine when you are. Pack up and go back to where you were most happy. Find balance by proving to yourself you CAN do it. Believe me, the picture of home schooling kids and living on a farm is one that makes me long to live back when marriages were partnerships, where people had defined roles. My life is not like that. Life is not like that anymore. It’s a sad truth, at least they got to experience it a little. Right now show your sons you are a strong and protective mother. Childhoods go by quickly, you don’t want to regret more than you have to.  

  42. Awiz8
    Awiz8 says:

    Predicted it a year ago, including the trip back to New York. I’m surprised that the Farmer just simply hadn’t put them out at the bus stop and let P figure out then and there what she wants to do.

  43. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    This is my first post although I have been following you for a while.  I have my own literal Farmer, I run my company from home, helping people online with a young kiddo at my feet and not been immune dark days where otherwise good, loving souls crack & snap.  

    Maybe this will also help with your plan for going forward…

    The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. GottmanAs I know you do your research, this book based on decades of research on happily married couples and pretty much calls traditional marriage therapy a crock…and not all marriages are meant to work but even those with worst problems or lack of hope, can and should be saved.

    I found to really be different than the usual message and therefore was incredibly helpful and our eventual alternative (and end) to therapy.  

    Maybe you will find there is still enough to work with to move forward with your Farmer as I did – or not…but I think it will give you some insight & support towards making the best decision for you and your boys.It probably best to just check out the reviews and details on Amazon instead of me going into all of it…but I think it offers something for every married couple – happy or not, no matter the situation…http://www.amazon.com/dp/0609805797/?tag=ptrunk-20

    Wishing you the best… V

  44. alley
    alley says:

    It’s always interesting to see readers’ negative/rabid reaction when they dont like a post or stream like this one because it doesnt conform to what they want to read on this blog.

    I’ve never been fired and I dont blog; I dont live on a farm or use social media in my work & I’m not looking to change careers.  That said, no matter what PT’s topic is, I always find myself asking: “What would I do [in this situation]?  How would I frame my decision-making process [to address the problem]?”   Penelope’s words never fail to make me think.

    Not because every topic she writes about is relevant to my personal situation, but because I learn – mostly about myself – from reading & contemplating the insights here.

    That’s the reason I’ve closely followed this blog for two years & will read PT’s musings – irrespective of the content – for as long as she chooses to share ….

  45. Joanne J-K
    Joanne J-K says:

    I came upon this blog just a few weeks ago and somehow managed to miss any and all references to Asperger Syndrome – until your last entry.  I am the step-parent of a now young adult man with AS so I think that I know a little more then a little about this topic.  I would like to suggest that although the comments that the last two posts have generated are probably heartfelt and sincere, I also think that many of the suggestions just won't work for you. 

    You write," I am terrible at intimacy"  – really?  Is this a newsflash for you?  Of course you suck at intimacy; you probably can't read facial expressions or body language either.  What about empathy or true compassion?  The Farmer stepped over the line but since most people really don't understand the impact of AS on a person, no matter how many times you try to explain it, it is understandable that he would lose his mind trying to have a relationship with someone who lacks the capacity to understand what someone else might be thinking or feeling.  You suffer from "mind-blindness. 

    Now as far as the therapist is concerned, if this individual is not only well versed in the complexities of AS but also experienced in dealing with people on the spectrum you can pretty much call it a day and move on to someone else.  Trying any type of cognitive therapy with a professional that does not specialize in adults with AS will prove to be an uphill battle.  Do yourself and your family a favor and find an expert.  I wish you well. 

    As for my step-son, he is very bright and I hope that someday he will be self sufficient but I also hope that no one ever makes the mistake of thinking that he could possibly love them like they would need to be loved.  He couldn't.  It is sad but knowing it up front might just keep him from a lot of pain in the future.

    • galynn
      galynn says:

      Please find someone who knows AS.  Most therapists do not, and how they work with you makes a difference.

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