Advice: How do I leave?

Dear Emelia,

I am a musician living in Bali as a single mother making a living performing the traditional music of the country. I have totally immersed myself in the culture here, just me and my daughter, living off the sweat of my gigs. I have a great nanny and have set our life up in a very healthy way. I am proud of myself. I am even self-producing an album of my original stuff (my ultimate dream) from the money I make performing.

I have had a string of boyfriends but this current one is a particular doozy. He is 38 years old  and cannot support himself financially, has STILL not finished his Bachelor’s degree, doesn’t take care of his health and is very arrogant and manipulative. He finds creepy ways to push me down and constantly tries to get money and gifts out of me every which way. I also have this big gut feeling that he is not capable of being faithful. But every time I dump him, I feel like total shit. I mope around my house, feel no joy, food does not taste good, I feel like a fat horrible failure. Why is this? How can I move past it? We have the same circle of friends (in fact, his best friend is my audio engineer), so cutting him out cold turkey is kind of impossible, at least while my album is still in process. And aside from this small circle of friends, I don’t have anybody in this country. I am lonely and miss my friends and family back in the US.

But I am so scared of being a barista single mom on food stamps again, which I feel is my fate in America. I enjoy the financial ease that comes with living in this place, and being able to live just from my art. What should I do?  My jaw and lips hurt from perpetual frowning. 


You are in an emotionally busive relationship, its probably not your first and you need to get out.  Bam.

 I say this because you feel terrible with him and without him and your mental heath suffers considerably when he’s not around. You are clearly intelligent and powerful so why on earth would you continually let yourself be hurt and twisted by him?

 Because this relationship has moved into an addiction.

And this is going to sound weird but, your brain is now chemically relying on the rush of pain you get when you break up with him. Wha? So weird right. Why would I want this pain? Why would I create it? It feels terrible? 

Because addictions don’t care what the “feelings” are, they just want the “high” that they bring. And even if that “high” isn’t pleasant, it’s still getting you off. 

I know this because I do this with my grief. I’m now in the stage where I’m so used to feeling torn apart by the death of my mother that it’s deeply uncomfortable to not feel bad. You know what I’m saying? I’ve gotten used to the pain, so much so, that my brain chemisty prefers it to joy and keeps manufacturing the sorrowful feeings to keep the high going. I now have to conciously work at not being scared of the “good” feelings. I have to watch my patterns around thinking about her to make sure I’m not sinking into an abyss. I can’t wear her housecoat anymore as it’s a trigger. I allow myself only a few moments a day to focus on missing her. I have to pack my feelings up and only let them out when I’m able to feel them responsibly. You have to do the same thing with your man. It takes a lot of discipline and like loosing the last 10 pounds, it’s the hardest.

So what do you do about this? Like any addiction, you need to start small. I would say that if making your dream album hinges on seeing an abusive mate then it’s not your dream album.

You have to get him out of your face.

 If this means going back to the US for a year to recalibrate then do that. 

And let me bam you again. 

You are choosing him right now. You are not a victim here. Don’t tell me “cutting him out cold turkey is kind of impossible” that sounds like addict talk. Getting away from someone who mainupulates you so thouroughly that “every time I dump him, I feel like total shit. I mope around my house, feel no joy, food does not taste good, I feel like a fat horrible failure” is your only task right now. If you don’t, your album will suck, if you don’t your daughter will learn to let herself be treated like shit by men. If you don’t, you will be more and more miserable until you die (fer realz).

Go home. Snuggle in. Who gives a shit if you are a barista for a bit. You gotta save yourself before you get any deeper in and right now you’re on a ledge. 

You’ve got to re-program yourself.

First step. There are no reasons to see him or talk to him ever again.

You will have anxiety. You’ll be terrified. You’ll feel deeply uncomfortable in your own skin, that’s because you are detoxing. If it means you need to move across the world to do this- then do it.

Then, when you are free from the drug that’s eating your soul (fer srsly) you can decide if this paradise life is for you and it’ll be you talking, not your addiction.

What’s that beatiful saying “sometimes to walk forward you have to walk backwards first.” I totally bastardized that. 

Like you said, you have so much ot be proud of. But, you are also deciding to stay with a shit head right now. Like a diet, the first two weeks will be the hardest. Knuckle down. Face up.

It’s time for you to engage the superpower of discipline.

 Love you. 

You’re Golden. 

xo, Em