Do you ever go out in public and feel caught in the headlights? Like a deer crossing the road when a car approaches?

It doesn’t take much to bring back that fear of danger coming toward you. Your legs won’t work and you can’t get out of the way.

Which Brings Me To This:

Someone emailed me last night about the post I wrote back in December in regards to Christine.

She was the blogger whose husband gunned her and her son down, then killed himself. Leaving behind three young children.

A woman stands on the inside while it rains outside. She has her hand on the window and she is in shadow, feeling caught in the headlights.

The woman who wrote to me said it had taken her all this time to get the courage to do so.

Because she could easily have been Christine. She has a friend who could have been Christine as well.

Caught In The Headlights, The Distance Between Yourself & Fear:

And no one knows how much distance you must put between yourself and the fear before you can even broach it. So I understand completely why she needed time.

Caught in the headlights…

It’s like staring at a gaping hole wondering if you’re going to get sucked into its vortex. Fear by proxy. It’s not only unsettling, but it brings back all kinds of fears that you barely keep tamped down as it is. 

You find yourself in a crowd and your heart is pounding so hard you can’t remember where you parked your car. Everyone must hear it, that pounding in your chest that seems so loud.

Is Everyone Watching You Or Are You Imagining It:

You feel like all eyes are watching you and your discomfort. And you begin to feel like a deer in the headlights, caught between standing still and running away.

But they aren’t staring at you. And it isn’t disastrous. Nevertheless, you realize that you are very close to tears.

And aren’t you going to look foolish with tears rolling down your cheeks while people walk past you carrying on casual conversations?

You are envious of them. Of their easy banter.

Stripped Of Feeling Normal & Stripped Of Trust:

Because you cannot feel like that anymore. It has been stripped from you. That ease with which you used to walk down the street, not a care in the world pulling you down.

A woman standing outside in the shadows. She feels caught in the headlights.

You are never the same. Not after months. And not after years.

Something has been taken from you and you will never get it back.

So you live your life on the periphery. On the edge of society.

People around you struggle to understand. And you have no answers for them.

You go out as infrequently as possible. And you stretch the groceries because you just can’t bear the thought of going out there.

When you’re in the grocery store you are on edge. Slyly peering sideways at everyone who walks past. Because you have lost the ability to be like them. Or to trust them.

It Doesn’t Take Much To Startle You:

When someone comes up behind you and tells you the fudge recipe is on the back of another brand, not the one you’re holding, they might as well have said there is a gunman on aisle two.

They were just being helpful. Friendly.

Caught in the headlights…

There was a time when I would have turned to them and smiled and said something witty. I would have thanked them and said “have a nice day.”

Sucked into the vortex. Yes, I know what that means.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

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  1. I love reading your blog and putting the puzzle pieces together as I have come 'late to the game". The cutest overload that is your space – I love everything about it! It's very cheerful. It reminds me that even on dark days, your surroundings make a huge impact in how you go on with life. Everything helps as part of the whole.

  2. Dear Brenda, I am a new follower and I came from Nancy blog. You are actually the first person that I have really meet that will totally understand me and the tears that burst out from time to time. We are indeed kindred spirits and I am so glad to meet you. I would love for you to read my story, it's on my blog. Thank you for letting me know that you are out there. I don't believe in coincidence. ~Hugs Jo

  3. I endured a long marriage that had been happy, but towards the end was extremely mentally abusive and drink played a whole part in his change of nature. I left, and it was hard, but my kids were being affected and starting to withdraw from life, so I had to do something..its very very hard,but now that there are societies helping women and men in this situation it might be a little bit easier than at my time. I am glad I moved away and got my kids back on track.. They still see their dad from time to time, and as he doesnt drink like he used to, they have reasonable relations with him.. When all that love goes because of the constant picking… it doesnt come back, its been destroyed by words and emotions. Doesnt have to be physical, mine wasnt but the constant belittling wore me down… This brave post says it all, have courage to face the future, its so much better than the past!!

  4. Hi Brenda
    Most of my life I've suffered with anxiety and didn't even know it but this past year it got so bad and have since been diagnosed with PTSD and generalized anxiety. It's something I wouldn't wish on anyone. I enjoyed reading your post (maybe that's not the right way to say it) and knowing what you write about and how it feels. Thanks for the post


  5. I think many times the one who is abused doesn't consider the fact that it is difficult for the family member or friend, too. Just like feeling someone saying a recipe is on a different brand package is the same as saying a gunman is in aisle 2, you can also take the silence or look on a family/friend's face totally out of context. I was abused severely. I have a few friends who went through abuse. There are times I don't know what to say to my friend because she didn't react the same way I did and vice versa. The judgment can come from both sides, not just from those who "don't get it." Maybe that person says nothing only because she doesn't want to cause further pain or embarrassment or just has no idea what to say. If you know what should be said or what you would like her to say in that situation, speak it. It might actually make the situation "workable". Sometimes, people need guidance in what to do or how to act in a situation that is equally difficult for both parties. Appreciate that the person is there with you and help her as much as you want her to help you.

  6. Thank you for this post! You are right, they just don't get it… will never be alright…. I couldn't believe one of my best friends told me to just "suck it up and move on"……nice sympathetic shoulder…….love to you…..

  7. Thank you for this post! You are right, they just don't get it… will never be alright…. I couldn't believe one of my best friends told me to just "suck it up and move on"……nice sympathetic shoulder…….love to you…..

  8. Brenda, your posts are helping women all over, look at how many are opening up and sharing their stories, gaining strength. From such a horrible situation something good is blossoming, thank you for being so open about your life.


  9. I'm at the point of finally legally breaking away for my spouse. Three children, ten years together and 4 married. Horrible incident after incident. I only recently had the courage to do something and I felt no relief. I felt worse now then ever. Everyone says they understand, it's effecting them in my extended
    Family but it's me and my children who are living this nightmare. Having fear instilled in you doesn't happen overnight. And I still want things to work with my husband though I know they never will. What made me call the police was not my concern for my own safety but seeing my children scared. That did it. And now I play both roles, at times I am the bad guy to my kids, he has even taken my car. For every woman out there reading this blog and or comments your not alone. And I know I have to know and keeping telling myself someday maybe not soon but someday things will feel at least better then this and for my sake and children's I am giving them a chance to have a healthy life

  10. I have been going back and rereading old posts of mine and comments from "old friend" bloggers that I had lost touch with. It's nice to come here and rediscover you, my friend. Hello again. I just wanted to thank you for your open-hearted honesty here in this place.

  11. 11 years of being belittled, called the most horrific names a woman could ever be called, living with an angry and abusive man…I got out and it took courage and I will never ever be with a person who even thinks to raise his voice at me and if that means I will never find a man, I don't care!!!! Through therapy, through my church and my little adopted wiener dog, I am finally at peace and my home is my sanctuary. I never look back….ever….always marching forward, even babysteps some days. Thank you Brenda for posting this. It is so important as women we keep this issue in the forefront.

  12. Well said, Brenda. I hope this post reaches someone who might need the courage to get out of an unhealthy or dangerous situation. Things rarely get better and people almost never change. Hugs to you.

  13. Brenda,

    I know this post is going to mean a lot for women who read your blog that are going through this or know someone that is. You have a way of describing your feelings in a way that people can so easily identify with and learn something from. In this post you sound really fed up and a little angry. I think of the five stages of grief, I'm not sure exactly when the anger steps in but it is a sure sign that you are making the progress.


  14. The people being critical certainly aren't "acting normal". What a joke! No one should feel they have to walk on egg shells for fear they will do something wrong all the time. Not worth being with people that make you feel that way. I've had a few of those in the past and glad they are exactly that, in the past. Everyone needs to feel that you can just be yourself and that should be enough.

  15. I know exactly how you feel!! I had a very traumatic experience and it took years to get over the fear. I'm OK now and more confident, but it has effected me and will always be a part of who I am. I am so glad you feel freer to be YOU now! The pretending is takes so much out of us!


  16. 1. Well done.
    2. Not everyone is judging.
    3. The judges don't count.
    4. I know this doesn't help but
    5. I hope it helps a tiny bit to know there are those out there with this attitude even though
    6. I have no real point of reference :/

  17. What's not to like about that kitchen-love it!
    I've not known anyone whose suffering this
    kind of abuse, but I do know that the longer
    a person lives in any dysfunctional situation
    it becomes their normal, which is why it is
    hard for them to leave
    an intolerable situation.
    Thanks for sharing this tough subject, Brenda.

  18. I feel for these women. Like I said before I knew 3 that died from the hand of their husbands. Who ever would think that I would know any much less 3. Just goes to show how many abused people are out there! 2 of them were killed trying to leave. They say that is often the most dangerous time. Prayers said for all who have gone through this or have gone through this. Bless you Brenda.

  19. The problem with me growing up in an extremely violent home is dysfunction seems normal when you grow up and get into relationships. The cycle perpetuates itself. I was married many years to a man with a profound personality disorder. Consequently I had (and have) many issues myself. 13 years ago I left and availed myself to all the therapy and help I could afford. It was worth it. No woman should have to live in fear. No man is worth it. No amount of money is worth it. Perceived security is not worth it. Owning yourself is worth it.

  20. I just love reading your blog…you are extremely insighful
    I am at that place… a horrible ending, but now a new beginning. I have no direction and I am motivated by fear. I don't want to be judged, yet everyone judges me and my children. One step at a time….

  21. My first husband's mother attacked me once and he did nothing. He was controlling when we were dating and emotionally abusive when we were married which slowly turned to physical abuse. I'm glad I was smart enough to not have children with him as who knows what would have happened. The last incident he had me held to the floor with his arm across my throat; I had a bloody, bruised lip and walked that night to the law firm where I worked and slept on the couch. 5 years of dating and 3-1/2 years of marriage before we called it quits. I should have never married him. My Mammaw said she didn't like him at all. She was a smart woman. After we divorced, other family members said they had to walk on eggshells when he was around. They never said anything to me about any of this when we were married. But they were all happy when the marriage ended.It was difficult at the time, but all just a distant memory now. You speak your mind, Brenda. That's what you are here for. Blessings, Tammy

  22. For some of us we can't always find the courage to end the relationship, even though we know deep down inside it's just not right. We may feel we can't support ourselves, the timing is wrong, our families won't believe us as he's such a nice guy, so we stay. For me I was lucky, it just took one black eye and I was out of there, but I had no children. I just new he'd never touch me again, ever. I've always felt from reading what you write, Brenda, that you would save some women and children. They might not see it at the moment that they have the strength to leave, but somebody out there will muster up the strength to get out thanks to you.

  23. People who have never been under the power of a cruel bully should be ever so grateful. My heart hurts for those that are still in that place, wondering if things will ever change. I have watched a couple of movies lately that are true stories of women, one woman was killed by her mother in law, her husband was too weak to stand up to his mother. And the other one was badly battered and she ended up killing her husband, but was found "not guilty" of murder, thankfully.
    Each one of us who lives a happy fulfilling life, needs to be very aware that not everyone we see and know has a "normal" happy life. I lived for eleven years hiding the verbal and emotional abuse that my first husband put myself and our children through. I thought I was doing the best thing by staying, but I should have left him before I had been married to him for even one year. It didn't take him long to show his true colours. I have forgiven myself, but it took me at least 20 years to do that.

  24. Well said, Brenda! I know from my personal experience with domestic violence that my life will never be "normal". There is always something that triggers an emotion or fear. I startle at the drop of a pin. I could go on, but I know that you (and the others here) understand. 🙂
    Hugs to You,

  25. Oh, my! This was a post. I think we've all felt a little or a lot like this at times. You know my heart goes out to you ].
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  26. What I find so horrible is that "it is never over". I think my family member has done an incredible job of overcoming her experience, but after reading this, I think I know understand some of her more recent decisions better.

    Thank you.

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