Pinings — Advice by Sherry Hughes

Back In The Same Place

Dear Pinings,

I am back in the same place I was in over two years ago and it feels terrible. Iíve moved back in with my mother and little brother (heís 18) and am back at my old job. Three years ago, I met the man of my dreams. We met at a wedding and fell in love fast and hard. He was friends with my cousin, who had nothing but good things to say about him. I was working full-time and going to school at night, but after we started dating, more and more of my time was taken up by himógoing to see him 200 miles away every weekend and calling him and talking for hours. I ended up moving there to be with him about 6 months after we met. I wish Iíd never done it.

At first everything was wonderful. We had romantic dinners, he brought me flowers, we traveled. I found a job I liked and started to check out transferring to a new school. Everything started going wrong after the first few months. He didnít have any tolerance for my sloppy habits. He insisted I keep everything put away, all the time (heíd have a fit if I left my mail on the shelf unopened, for example.) When it came time to unpacking my things, there wasnít really enough room for everything. Instead of making room, he said I should rent a storage unit.

Later, when I started to talk with him about schools, he wasnít very encouraging, but I didnít give it much significance. Then, when I went to sign up for my first class there, he accused me of wanting to meet other men. I was shocked, because heíd never shown this side before. And honestly, Iím as loyal as the day is long.

The worst part of the whole thing was that if I didnít comply, heíd punish me by sleeping on the couch or leaving the house and not coming home for several hours. It was awful. I hardly knew anyone in that city and felt abandoned. He rarely apologized for his actions (even if he was really nasty or called me names) but expected me to be all lovey when he came home.

Iím sure by now you get the picture. I knew it was going to get worse. I told him I was willing to work on things but quickly realized that he was a control freak and that I spent most of my time feeling afraidó to say how I feel, to put things where I wanted, to pursue my interests. I just knew it was all wrong.

Now Iím backóand Iím glad to be done with that relationship. The problem is that I see people and they wonder what happened and I feel like a loser. I donít know why, but I feel like such a huge failure. Iím not saying I was perfect in the whole thingóI made plenty of mistakes. But I really believe that some of the stuff happening was about emotional abuse Ö and without going in to long, boring details, people donít understand. And yes, they ask. When I left here, I really thought I had met Mr. Right. And I told everybody! I feel like such a fool. And to top it off, I miss him sometimes. I donít miss the jerk he turned out to be, but I miss the good stuff, when he was kind and fun.

Any insights that might help me would be greatly appreciated.

- Cecily

Dear Cecily,

First of all, you are to be congratulated for getting out of what was clearly a bad situation as quickly as you did. Iíve been in an eerily similar situation before and it took me way longer to get up the courage to get out. And I felt some of the same things you are feeling now.

Of course you miss him. Clearly, you cared for him. Missing him doesnít mean you want him back. It means that you miss the good stuff you shared together. Thatís normal.

And I also understand the way you feel in terms of feeling like you failed in some way. That probably has a lot to do with your let-down expectations. You thought it was going to be happily ever after, and itís not. And when people want to know what happened, itís not just about him being a jerk, itís about the whole thing didnít work out. Thatís hard, and sometimes, for whatever reason, it feels embarrassing.

Give yourself a break. As you learned, there are worse things than being at your momís house living with your little brother. You could be living with a control freak who treats you badly.

There are many lessons to be learned from all of this and unfortunately some of those lessons are fairly painful. Take some time for yourself and time to heal. Get to know someone well before moving on to the next step (are you ladies listening out there??) And get rid of the bat you are using to beat yourself up. Everyone makes mistakes. Youíll find someone who loves you well someday. Now that the jerk isnít in your life, youíll be available.

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers. Reach her at


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