Feeling Trapped

She sat at a red light, waiting to turn on to the freeway. As she waited, she went through her ‘To Do’ list in her head.

Pick up the dry cleaning

Stop by Wal-Mart and buy toilet paper and dog food

Go to the gas station and get a car wash

Go to the grocery store and…

She saw him. Sitting in his work truck at the red light waiting to get off of the freeway. He looked the same, but different. She hadn’t seen him in years, and seeing him now, she looked at him the way a stranger might.

He sat in his truck and was probably going through his mental ‘To Do’ list. He looked the same age, but his hair was longer. He looked a bit heavier. He was flattening out the hair that made up his goatee, stroking it from his nose to his chin; something he did when he was nervous or thinking. He had no idea that she was looking at him.

It had been years since they’d spoken. Four? Five? She actually was shocked to see him, although they both traveled in the same community and social circles still. She wished they could’ve remain friends, he did not. He wanted her for his own, not as a friend. It was his pride that wouldn’t allow them to even speak on friendly terms or as strangers might. He wanted her, but because he couldn’t have her under his conditions, he wrote her off completely.

Never mind that they had dated for five years before they married. That they had grown up together – they started dating when she was a junior in high school and he had just graduated. They were kids when they became a couple. When they married, they were still too young. And every single sign that was given to her said “DO NOT MARRY HIM”. But young love is stupid love, and she thought that the problems she had before they married…the drinking, the lack of respect, the emotional and physical abuse, the dictatorship that they called their relationship (him being the dictator of course)…that would all change once they got married and became one.

It didn’t. Just as everybody told her, it wouldn’t change. But how could she believe anybody else? Why would she? They were in love, and that was all that mattered, right? But if you don’t even understand what it means to love, how can things change?

She wondered what would happen if they ever ran into each other at the grocery store? Would he stop and chat? Would he turn away as if he hadn’t seen her? They still knew what was going on in each other’s lives…they had the same friends and he still kept in touch with some of her family, and she spoke to his brother occasionally.

“How are your kids?”

“Do you still have the same job?”

“Still living in the same place?”

“It was nice running in to you! Tell your parents I said hello”

She doubted it. She figured that he would take the easy way out and turn the other way.

But what would she really want to say to him? In a letter maybe, what would she say? Her true feelings? Would she sugar coat it or let it all go? All those old feelings of being trapped and unable to fix it came flooding back.

Dear Ex,
We should never have gotten married in the first place, but I felt trapped. We dated for five years. It was a rough five years, and we should have broken up. But I kept hoping you would change; that things would get better. That you loved me enough to compromise on the few things I asked you to do. But you wouldn’t.

So after five years, it was either shit or get off the pot. Get married or break up. But I couldn’t imagine life without you! I accepted your proposal.

Do you remember a few days before the wedding when we talked about not getting married? I wanted to say “let’s call it off” so badly, but I couldn’t. All that money, all the people with travel plans and gifts for us? I would hate to inconvenience them.

But do you know what? In the grand scheme of things, I’m glad that everything happened the way it did. I appreciate my life so much more now. I have a man that loves and respects me…he taught me how to love myself and understand that I AM WORTH IT. I have value, I have worth. People do want to hear what I have to say and value my opinion. I am not just an extension of him, I am a strong, beautiful, smart woman and deserve to be treated that way.

It hurts me to know that you didn’t understand this. It hurts me to know that you wouldn’t even try to make changes simply because you loved me and because I asked. I didn’t ask you to change anything that would make you less of a man or less of a person.

Yes, I understand that I have blame in this, too. You were never going to change and you said it over and over again.

And so when I finally got up the courage to leave? Finally got a little self respect? It had nothing to do with you…it was all about me. I could not and would not live that way any longer.

And I am so thankful for how things worked out.

All the best,


  1. Good job, Natalie! It is so odd to run into someone from the past and you captured that well, and also the anger she obviously still feels toward him.
  2. Laurie Wallin says:
    Nicely done! You really captured this moment with the power of story. I totally felt all that awkwardness in the moment getting on the freeway with her. Hope you'll keep up the fiction writing!
  3. The Empress says:

    The best part about this post??

    How many times you say "This is Fiction!"

    You crack me up.

  4. NanaDiana says:
    Ah...fiction to you - but the truth for some of us! Nicely done...as if you had been there- Hugs- Diana
  5. Ooo, girl! I liked this. I could totally feel the emotions. It is such a weird thing to run into someone from the past.
  6. Great job! I love the line "young love is stupid love", because how many of us can relate to that in one way or another? I'm glad that it's fiction, but I think you very realistically capture that line between regretting the past and knowing that it has led us into our current (better) lives.
  7. great work. You could feel the emotion as she watched him and all those feelings came flooding back

    I haven't even started my RWH piece yet! 'Tis on my "to do" list for today LOL
  8. BalancingMama (Julie) says:
    Great post! It was so real.
  9. You write a mean story, my lovely friend.
  10. Very well written! I always wonder what I would say if I ran into my ex. But that is not an issue since there is over a 1,000 miles between us and we have no common thing to bridge that gap.
  11. Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points says:
    Very nice, you!

    An excellent painting on a small canvas.

    Hard to do!
  12. theworkinghousewife says:
    I like it! Your writing is awesome!
  13. Wonderful writing! I was totally hooked from the beginning. I have a bad habit of not reading a post if it looks long because I don't have a lot of extra time, but you totally had me and I had to find out how it ended! Kudos to you!
  14. Vicarious Chelsea says:
    You say this is fiction, at yet parts of it describe certain experiences in my life perfectly. Many many of us have had these similar learning experiences. Great post!
  15. That was so good! I wanted to keep reading. I want more! I want more! I want more!
  16. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to a story like this. I think so many of us know at least 1 person who either did call it off just before walking down the aisle, or wish they had.
  17. Together We Save says:
    Awesome story!! You are a great writter!
  18. This piece speaks right up off the page.

    Well done, you.
  19. blueviolet says:
    That was amazing.
  20. Midwestern Mama Holly says:
    I once tried to run my ex over with my car.... there really isn't much to say after that except maybe "Are your reflexes still lightning fast?"
  21. This is me. Thanks for putting it into words, even if it is fiction to you.
  22. Beautiful job, Natalie.
    You are such a lovely writer.
  23. You captured young love gone wrong so perfectly.
  24. Very very good. There are women everywhere that can relate, have been, or are there.
  25. Not Just Another Jennifer says:
    Well done!
  26. Witchy Crazy Mommy says:
    Just beautiful! If this were a book, I would read it from cover to cover! More! More! More!
  27. Oh, you got some skills. Great piece of work.
  28. Girl, I'm crying. In starbucks.

    I can relate to you on soooo many levels.

    I have just gotten out of "that" relationship and though I am yet to find the great guy that you have, you make my optimistic.

    I am so glad I found you and I am excited to follow ya!
  29. Anonymous says:
    One mans loss is another mans gift.
  30. Beautiful and courageous. Touched me to the core. And you know, I think the character of the Ex sounds familiar to so many women. The Bad Boy we're attracted to but know is unhealthy for us.
  31. Your fiction is so so true for some of us Natalie. Let perverts be perverts... We have the right to enjoy and celebrate our worth. :-)
  32. So well said-this couldn't have been easy to put down into words, but you did-and it's good!
  33. Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip says:
    What a beautifully told and extemely heartfelt story. So many women can relate to the feelings you expressed and it is so wonderful that your character was able to get out of her situation and look back at it with so much wisdom after the years had passed. The message is so powerful. We all need to know that we are worth it. That we are beautiful, special, important. No one deserves to be abused, whether emotionally or physcially. Thank you for writing this very empowering story and sharing it with all of us. I love you, Nat!
  34. Kristi {at} Live and Love...Out Loud says:
    Natalie, I love your fiction pieces. You're such a great writer. You had me convinced til the end that this was written about you. lol
    Stopping by from the StumbleUpon group. :)
  35. Alexandria says:
    Really really good!
  36. The mad woman behind the blog says:
    You know its good when your readers say "wait, you just wrote me story!"
    So very well done. I kept waiting for it to turn more sinister but glad that it didn't.
    At least your post SOUNDS like real life. My RWH post MOSTLY happened and doesn't sound real at all!
  37. Beautiful. And never ever forget: you are "a strong, beautiful, smart woman and deserve to be treated that way." xoxo
  38. Well done, my friend, well done. You really get a sense of the emotions behind her past relationship and what motivated her to move on and get her life back.

    And I'll just bet she did.
  39. The Drama Mama says:
    This was fantastic. You definitely had this down. It takes a lot of courage to walk away, and you truly presented a courageous character.
  40. Cook of the House says:
    Great story. It seems that there are quite a few of us who can relate.
  41. I always love reading the stories of the ones who were wrong. Because the ones who were wrong taught us valuable lessons about what we will accept. What we will tolerate. What we will not stand for. What we need. What we want.

    And who we want to be.

    And so if it wasn't for the ones who were wrong?

    We would never be ready to recognize the ones who are right.

    Happy sighs that your character learned her lessons and was ready when the right one came along.

    Well done.
  42. Great job on this, ugh the goatee I can just picture him!
  43. I love the detail about him smoothing he goatee when he's thinking...that's a perfect detail of how she knows him, has a history with him.

    I'm glad she moved on and got out.