Feeling Trapped? Learn How to Get Unstuck

Do You Feel Trapped In Life? 

If so, you’re not alone. I see it all the time: people who show up for growth-oriented therapy and life coaching often do so because they feel trapped and stuck and they do not know how to move forward.

They say in their first online coaching session, “I feel trapped in my job,” or “I feel trapped in my marriage,” or “I feel trapped by my life.” What they’re saying is, “I’m unhappy, but I do not see a path forward.” Although they desire change very much, it really feels like, in every direction, there is a barrier or an insurmountable obstacle. It’s like they have no good options. They are paralyzed.

So they sit on my couch or on my computer screen, feeling beaten down, helpless, tense, and often certain in the futility of any effort to create change.

Then we talk; we usually talk about their many, many, MANY obstacles.

  1. A career coaching client talks about how much they hate their job but can’t find a different one for various reasons. “This other job won’t pay as well.” “I don’t want to have to go back to school.” “I’ll be totally starting over!”
  2. A life coaching client might talk about how they want to create better habits and make positive life changes but haven’t been successful yet, so therefore they can never be. Everything they try to do fails. They have stopped trusting themselves to do what needs to be done to create positive change. They have tried it all. Nothing works. They can’t xyz and have so many reasons why. 
  3. A relationship coaching client needs me to know their relationship feels toxic, not emotionally safe, and not satisfying. Communication is terrible. They want so much to love and be loved but feel helpless because their partner won’t change. But on the other side, getting divorced feels like signing up for a whole new set of terrible problems. And the kids. And the money. And the heartbreak. They feel trapped in a bad relationship that they can’t fix, and they can’t leave.

What to Do When You’re Feeling Trapped

In all of these situations — while the specific circumstances leading these folks to feel trapped are different — the result is the same: it feels like the door to their ideal path has just slammed shut and now they are facing a wall. A high, high wall.

Emotionally, they feel helpless and that their problems feel too big to overcome. Every opportunity quickly becomes a snarl of more problems and negative outcomes, and paralysis takes over.

“Being stuck” becomes a purgatory and, as you can imagine, fertile ground for depression to sink roots that wrap them up in tight black vines of hopelessness. It’s hard to go through, and even as a trained therapist or coach, it’s hard to watch.

Why does this happen? Most importantly, how do you move past feeling trapped and set yourself free?

Why You Feel Trapped: The “Black and White” Trap

The truth is that when I sit with my therapy or coaching clients, I become very, very aware that:

  1. Their adverse circumstances are very real 
  2. They may not have great options, and they do have to make hard choices
  3. They have more options than they think they do

If your immediate reaction to that last part was, “NO, I DO NOT!” Please, hear me out.

In my experience as a therapist and life coach, and an empathic observer of humans, I have learned that there is a very specific way of thinking that inevitably intensifies the feeling of being trapped, and will always make you feel helpless and overwhelmed by obstacles: black and white thinking.

Black and white thinking severely limits available options.

If you’re feeling paralyzed, stuck, or helpless there is a good chance that, at the core, and without even realizing it you might be engaging in “all or nothing” / “yes or no” / “this or that” /  black and white thinking.

When a black or white thought process is active, everything becomes an “either / or.”

“I need to get into this graduate program, but I can’t afford it so I’m destined to stay in this unhappy career forever.”

“I’m going out on dates but not meeting people I feel a connection with, so I’m going to die alone.”

“I must feel better in order to do something differently.”

“My partner needs to change or I can’t be happy.”

All options are starkly opposed in black and white, and have the power to either save or crush us completely. Words like, “Always,” “Have To,” “Can’t,” swirl inside your head. It’s exhausting.

Whenever someone gets into a stuck, helpless place it’s almost always because they perceive too few options. Things become polarized: black and white, yes and no, good or bad.

They have more options than they think they do. It is actually never black or white. Even if they have to choose between two options, they still have a great deal of opportunity to cultivate differences in the way they think about those options, and the way they feel about those options.

But when people are feeling trapped, they do not see that. They can’t. And we’ve all been there: Stuck, disempowered, and feeling trapped.

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How to Get Unstuck

The black and white mindset that underpins feeling trapped is why people so often need the support of a great, growth oriented therapist or a dynamic life coach to get unstuck. They are not trapped so much by their own circumstances, as they are by their own mental process. However, because we are all limited by our own perceptions, the mental walls we unknowingly create are very real, and very high. It is nearly impossible to scale them alone, without outside perspective.

Great therapy or coaching can sometimes reveal different options and solutions. But what it always does is help you create inner flexibility and a fresh perspective that sets you free from the inside out.

Many decades of research into cognitive-behavioral therapy have shown that the basis for much human suffering can be found in unhelpful ways of thinking. Also, when people can cultivate more helpful ways of thinking they feel happier, more content, and more empowered, whether or not they change their circumstances (though often, feeling better mentally and emotionally helps people create actual change).

This is important: Psychological health and happiness is found through mental flexibility, creativity, and openness.

There is always a middle path. When you tap into your own inner power and resources, you will find it. Then, you have so many more possibilities.

How To Liberate Yourself Mentally and Emotionally, When You’re Feeling Trapped

I am going to tell you a secret. I will preface this by saying I’m aware that what I’m about to say can feel impossible when you’re trapped in black and white thinking and not sure how to move forward. If you can’t do this on your own, it’s a good call to connect with a therapist or coach who can help you do this. But here it is:

If you don’t like the options you currently have, insist on more.

Whether you believe this to be true, it is: You have more options than you know. Some of your options may be a bad idea. Some options may be fantastical. Some of your options may go against your core values. Some of them may be so ridiculous they are not even worth entertaining.

But under the heap of terrible, dumb, unthinkable options, there may be a few that are worth entertaining. But you can’t get to those options, unless you give yourself permission to be creative, be weird, think about things you don’t usually think about, and insist on more.

This openness to any and all options is the psychological process of liberating your mind from entrapment. Only when you can set yourself free psychologically, are you able to move forward, literally.

Here’s an example:

Did you ever read the story when you were a kid about Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator? (It’s the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I know you’ve heard of.)

Anyway, at the end of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, if you remember, Willie Wonka has made Charlie the heir to his magical candy empire, and is going to take him on a tour of his new dominion.

They get into the Great Glass Elevator, which Charlie assumes, sanely, will carry them up or down to different levels of the factory. (Up or down. Black or white. Sound familiar?)

However, the wall of the elevator is covered with buttons. Strange buttons. Buttons indicating that this elevator will go not just up or down but diagonally, in circles, side to side, and more.

Willie Wonka gleefully pushes the big red “Up and Out” button which sends them crashing through the roof of the factory and into outer space. OUTER SPACE! What kind of elevator goes into outer space??

One of the characters asks this reasonable question:

“And what keeps it up?” said Grandma Josephine.

“Skyhooks,” said Mr Wonka.

Skyhooks. Skyhooks, as far as I know, are not actually a thing. Perhaps they will be (I have not personally rummaged around in Elon Musk’s desk drawers to look for the notepad with the “List of Things to Think About” I’m sure he keeps.)

But the point is that you, too, get to make it all up as you go along.  We all get to design our own reality. We all get to choose how to be our best self. Just like Willy Wonka, nothing exists anywhere — certainly not in your life or mine — unless we think about making it happen first. The rules that govern our lives are largely our own construction. You have many, many options — we all do.

Getting Unstuck: Cultivate Creativity And Mental Flexibility Like it Is Your Job

Here’s what getting unstuck from the outside actually looks like when you do it.

The next time you’re feeling trapped, try taking out a piece of paper and writing down as many alternative options as you can think of. Make them as zany and wildly unrealistic as you possibly can, just to loosen up the thin-lipped British governess that has taken up residence in your head— the one holding two alternatives out to you on a silver tray. Slap them out of her hands and get weird. Brainstorm with abandon.

“I could sell all my possessions and move to a little village in Armenia. In three years I will be mayor.”

“I could quit my job and live in a tent in my next-door neighbor’s backyard.”

“I could make [insert goal here] the sole mission of my life and number one priority every day.”

“I could stand up in the middle of my next team meeting and scream cathartically, throw a chair at my boss’s head, and walk out.” (Not advised. But you could.)

“I could apply to a different school, or change my major.”

“I could break up with this person.”

“I could read some books and learn how to do this thing that seems so impossible. Other people can do it and I can too.”

“I could make it a goal to meet four new people every week.”

“I could save x amount of money every month for the next year, and do the thing I really want to do.”

“I could get rid of my television and use all that extra time to pursue [something important that you feel you don’t have time for].”

Operant point: every sentence should start with “I could.”

Of course you will immediately hear the snarky voice of the uptight, uber-rational British governess telling you all the reasons that you can’t.

The correct response to her is, “Shh. Skyhooks.”

Break Free: You Are the Author Of Your Life Story

The truth is that you can actually do pretty much anything you want.

You CAN decide to take out a massive loan and spend every cent riding motorcycles around Australia for the next six months. You could simply stop paying the mortgage on your house and use the proceeds to finance a diet of nothing but the most expensive chocolate money can buy every single day.

You can. No one is stopping you.

Of course, there are consequences to every decision that you’ll have to sort through, obviously, but just getting in contact with the fact that your options are immense is enough to break through the paralysis that is choking your life and creating the stuck-ness that you’ve been feeling lately.

In addition to some foolish ideas that might very well destroy your life if you follow them, your creativity and openness to new ideas will also generate some reasonable, healthy, fresh and exciting new options for you too. Trust me.

What are the skyhooks that could lift you up-and-out of the tiny little cognitive box you’ve been stuffed into?

What could you do?

If this conversation has sparked some new ideas in your mind, or even made you curious to hear more, I hope you check out the podcast I recorded on the same subject about what to do when you’re feeling trapped (below). In it I share even MORE advice for how to get unstuck and break free — either literally, by changing your circumstances, or mentally and emotionally when you can’t.

I know that this article and the podcast are not in any way, shape or form a substitute for working with a therapist or life coach (which is what most people who are profoundly stuck really do need). However, I hope this conversation helps you find your way forward, even if it’s just to take the steps to get in touch with a great therapist or coach who can walk with you, help you break out of black and white thinking, help you brainstorm new possibilities, and cultivate the inner strength to transform your life from the inside out.

That is what you deserve!

 xoxo,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Life Coaching Questions

24 Comments

  1. I love your suggestions. I am stuck in a situation of financial abuse and working on ways to earn money secretly. The thin-lipped governess is sayng that I will have to report it on tax forms that my abuser has access too. But I’ll keep trying to think more flexibly. I could try to earn enough money to get away before taxes are due next year, I suppose.

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been working hard to earn pennies a day and losing sleep over feeling hopeless all night.

    1. Emily, what a terrible situation. I’m so sorry you’re going through that. So, caveat to all of the above: If you are in a legitimately abusive relationship, you need more than creative thinking and fresh energy to get out of it. You might need practical support to create safety and get away from this person. As you brainstorm options I’d like to encourage you to consider enlisting the support of a domestic violence center such as http://www.thehotline.org. They may be able to help you find more options than you currently perceive, as well as provide material resources, legal resources, etc. (If our “thin lipped governess” has all sorts of reasons about why that’s a bad idea, you shush her!)

      Best of luck to you Emily…
      Lisa

  2. Could you give me any advice on how to stop feeling so trapped in my situation? I only just turned 18 and I am completely stuck in the house, I was home-schooled from an online program and I just graduated. My parents never took me to get a learner’s permit, nor do they let me near a car, and since I’ve been home-schooled most my life, I don’t have any friends to give me a ride. The only place I can go is work at Burger King and there is a man there who harasses me so badly that I have horrible nightmares and auditory hallucinations. My parents pressure me to work as much as possible even though they know that there is a man who has physically assaulted me and harasses me constantly, and they make me feel awful about the financial situation. On top of that, I have an addictive self harm problem that I haven’t been able to talk about. (My family thinks self harmers just want attention and my sister told me she wished I would cut myself up and die…soooo not the best people to talk to I guess) Anyway, my situation with me getting in my head and feeling utterly trapped in this house and in this mess of despair is getting to the point where I don’t feel completely hopeless 24/7 but I just can’t stop thinking about wanting to die and ways to do it. I just want to feel a little bit of control in a positive way instead of just constantly reverting back to an addiction to “save me” until it kills me.
    Thanks for writing this article. It really did help a little.

    1. Oh no! Flower!

      Okay, first of all, I’m really glad that you are reaching out for help. This is a very serious situation, and I’m glad that you have the wisdom to know that it’s time to get professional help. However, Growing Self is NOT the place to do this important work.

      Here’s what I recommend: Do a Google search for your local community mental health center, and call their main number. (It may be their “intake line” or something of that nature).

      Let the person on the phone know that you’d like to get into therapy (being sure to mention the issues that you shared here, so that they know how serious this is and get you in right away). Also let them know that transportation is an issue. You might ask to talk with a caseworker who can help you get set up with supportive services such as transportation, Medicaid benefits (if you don’t have Medicaid).

      The great thing about working with a community mental health center is that they have a ton of services: They can help you with vocational training if need be, they can provide you with a higher level of care, they can help you with addiction issues as well as mental health issues, and they can also potentially support you in moving out and living on your own if that’s what needs to happen.

      In the meantime, please call this number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255, or here’s another hotline number that you can text: Text CONNECT to 741741

      Please let them know how you’re feeling and what’s been happening. They may have more ideas and resources for you than the ones I’ve shared here.

      I’m so glad that you are seeking support Flower. You deserve it and with the right help your life (and the way you feel) may be very, very different in the coming months and years.

      Your life is just beginning Flower. The past belonged to your parents, but your future belongs to you. I’m glad you’re taking positive action to create a different path for yourself.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Lisa Marie Bobby

  3. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for a great article. I have been feeling very stuck and lonely for a long time. I feel like no one understands me, even when people tell me ‘you’re a strong woman’. I have 2 kids and my husband lives overseas because of visa issues. we have two little boys so I’m saddled with the sole responsibility of taking care of them and making all the decisions. I feel so stuck in my job and I can’t really look for another job due to immigration problems. Every second I’m thinking of gazillion things and its really weighing me down. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone because it’s either don’t care or will think I’m just seeking attention. Sometimes I wish I can just relieve myself from all the pain, worry and hopelessness that I constantly feel. But I think of my kids and the fact that they will have to live without their mother I just feel the urge to keep pushing forward. My kids are my life and I do not want to see them hurt.

    Thank you so much for this article. Makes me feel that there’s always a solution

    1. Malory thank you for reaching out and for sharing. I can completely understand how the circumstances you describe would feel overwhelming and “trapping” to anyone. Tough stuff! I am concerned though about the way you phrased “wanting to relieve yourself from the pain” and that you didn’t because you didn’t want your kids to live without a mother. Implying that you’re thinking about killing yourself? If that is the case Mallory this is a crisis situation and you need to get professional help immediately. I know you feel like you can’t talk to anyone, but you must: Your life may depend on it. Please call the national suicide hotline number 800-273-8255 and let the person who answers know what is going on. They will be able to help you get connected to a licensed mental health professional locally. (NOT online). I hope you make the call Mallory. You and your kids (and your husband) need you to reach out!! xoxo, Lisa

  4. I have a daughter it has an eight-year-old daughter. She was divorced. We all live in the same small hometown. She feels trapped because she’s dating someone that will be moving 6 hours away from where her daughter goes to school and her entire family is. She would love to have a different life outside of the small hometown. And her. Could take her anywhere. But with custody sharing. She feels hopelessly stuck and trapped. In this small Hometown. What advice can I give to her. She would like to continue growing her family and being a loving relationship. But she just doesn’t see opportunity and such a small community. And really enjoys bigger communities that have more to offer. Help. I feel so sad for her.

  5. Dear Lisa,

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice.

    When I was in university I feel in love with this lovely boy and on the last year of uni (2008) he told me that his parents had forced him to marry a girl of their choosing (this is very common in my culture). He tried to get out of it, but his family cornered him and forced him to say yes. We could not contact each other after this as it would anger his parents, and it is frowned upon in our culture.

    After university i found several jobs and moved out of my parent’s home. I developed depression and have been suicidal at times. I did receive therapy, but it only helped to some extend. My parents and my siblings do not understand as they don’t believe in mental health as its often not acknowledged in my culture. This has caused my depression to worsen over the years.

    Earlier this month (March 2020) the boy from university popped up on my friends suggestion list on facebook and I added him. When we started talking it felt like we had just finished uni and 12 years had not gone by. He had not married the girl due to certain situations in the family such as family death. He moved to study medicine in Europe, as it was a way of getting out of the family environment. When i contacted him he was in his last year of uni with a final exam due. Within 2 weeks of talking and making plans to meet up he told me that his father has arranged a marriage proposal to the SAME GIRL!!!! Apparently she has been waiting for him and her family have been in touch with the date for sometime. He does not want to go through it but again he is being pressured and does not see a way out of it.

    I feel like history is repeating itself and the same actions and conversation are being said and there really is no hope. Because of the current situation with COVID-19 i really don’t want to speak to family and friends as they are worried about their own issues. Because of this i feel alone, stuck and abundant. I feel really stuck in my head and i am unable to sleep and i am consistently crying. My depression has also gotten a lot worse.

    What do i do? How do i fix this situation?

    1. RGB, I’m sorry to hear about the pain that this has caused you. In my experience if someone wants to be with you, they’ll move heaven and earth to make it happen. I’m hearing that you are getting a lot of excuses. One strategy to get to the heart of things that I’ve learned over the years is that if you look to what people do, rather than what they say, you’ll learn the truth. If words say “yes” but actions say “no” you’d be better off listening to what is being communicated through the actions. I also sincerely hope, for your benefit, that you’re getting involved in evidence based therapy for the treatment of your depression. I hope that by focusing on your own emotional wellness, it helps you cultivate positive relationships in your life with people who are able and willing to love you back – the way you deserve to be loved. xoxo, Lisa Marie Bobby

  6. Here’s one for the book: I dated a man for 14 years. He had a wife abroad who eventually arrived in US – we continued the affair. During those years, I would ask when we were going to marry; always an excuse. He told my father that we would marry, which was a lie. The affair ended. Within 600 days, he met and married a woman.
    I thought I would die. Guess what? We continue with the affair – I AM THE QUEEN OF BEING STUCK! I have ordered the online class for unsticking myself. I know, I could benefit most.

    1. Oh Patricia! Okay, this is not “being stuck.” This is being addicted to a toxic relationship. For real. Please go to the bottom of the post and type “toxic” in the search bar, and read some of the articles and podcasts I have there about toxic relationships and see what you identify with. And have you read the Exaholics book?? (If not please do, I think it will be really enlightening for you). I hope that as you learn more about what’s really happening here you connect with a good therapist or coach who can help you break this unhealthy attachment. You deserve so much better than this. Wishing you all the best, Dr. Lisa

  7. I love your suggestions. I am stuck in a situation of financial abuse and working on ways to earn money secretly. The thin-lipped governess is sayng that I will have to report it on tax forms that my abuser has access too. But I’ll keep trying to think more flexibly. I could try to earn enough money to get away before taxes are due next year, I suppose.

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been working hard to earn pennies a day and losing sleep over feeling hopeless all night.

  8. Emily, what a terrible situation. I’m so sorry you’re going through that. So, caveat to all of the above: If you are in a legitimately abusive relationship, you need more than creative thinking and fresh energy to get out of it. You might need practical support to create safety and get away from this person. As you brainstorm options I’d like to encourage you to consider enlisting the support of a domestic violence center such as http://www.thehotline.org. They may be able to help you find more options than you currently perceive, as well as provide material resources, legal resources, etc. (If our “thin lipped governess” has all sorts of reasons about why that’s a bad idea, you shush her!)

    Best of luck to you Emily…
    Lisa

  9. Could you give me any advice on how to stop feeling so trapped in my situation? I only just turned 18 and I am completely stuck in the house, I was home-schooled from an online program and I just graduated. My parents never took me to get a learner’s permit, nor do they let me near a car, and since I’ve been home-schooled most my life, I don’t have any friends to give me a ride. The only place I can go is work at Burger King and there is a man there who harasses me so badly that I have horrible nightmares and auditory hallucinations. My parents pressure me to work as much as possible even though they know that there is a man who has physically assaulted me and harasses me constantly, and they make me feel awful about the financial situation. On top of that, I have an addictive self harm problem that I haven’t been able to talk about. (My family thinks self harmers just want attention and my sister told me she wished I would cut myself up and die…soooo not the best people to talk to I guess) Anyway, my situation with me getting in my head and feeling utterly trapped in this house and in this mess of despair is getting to the point where I don’t feel completely hopeless 24/7 but I just can’t stop thinking about wanting to die and ways to do it. I just want to feel a little bit of control in a positive way instead of just constantly reverting back to an addiction to “save me” until it kills me.
    Thanks for writing this article. It really did help a little.

  10. Oh no! Flower!

    Okay, first of all, I’m really glad that you are reaching out for help. This is a very serious situation, and I’m glad that you have the wisdom to know that it’s time to get professional help. However, Growing Self is NOT the place to do this important work.

    Here’s what I recommend: Do a Google search for your local community mental health center, and call their main number. (It may be their “intake line” or something of that nature).

    Let the person on the phone know that you’d like to get into therapy (being sure to mention the issues that you shared here, so that they know how serious this is and get you in right away). Also let them know that transportation is an issue. You might ask to talk with a caseworker who can help you get set up with supportive services such as transportation, Medicaid benefits (if you don’t have Medicaid).

    The great thing about working with a community mental health center is that they have a ton of services: They can help you with vocational training if need be, they can provide you with a higher level of care, they can help you with addiction issues as well as mental health issues, and they can also potentially support you in moving out and living on your own if that’s what needs to happen.

    In the meantime, please call this number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255, or here’s another hotline number that you can text: Text CONNECT to 741741

    Please let them know how you’re feeling and what’s been happening. They may have more ideas and resources for you than the ones I’ve shared here.

    I’m so glad that you are seeking support Flower. You deserve it and with the right help your life (and the way you feel) may be very, very different in the coming months and years.

    Your life is just beginning Flower. The past belonged to your parents, but your future belongs to you. I’m glad you’re taking positive action to create a different path for yourself.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Lisa Marie Bobby

  11. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for a great article. I have been feeling very stuck and lonely for a long time. I feel like no one understands me, even when people tell me ‘you’re a strong woman’. I have 2 kids and my husband lives overseas because of visa issues. we have two little boys so I’m saddled with the sole responsibility of taking care of them and making all the decisions. I feel so stuck in my job and I can’t really look for another job due to immigration problems. Every second I’m thinking of gazillion things and its really weighing me down. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone because it’s either don’t care or will think I’m just seeking attention. Sometimes I wish I can just relieve myself from all the pain, worry and hopelessness that I constantly feel. But I think of my kids and the fact that they will have to live without their mother I just feel the urge to keep pushing forward. My kids are my life and I do not want to see them hurt.

    Thank you so much for this article. Makes me feel that there’s always a solution

  12. Malory thank you for reaching out and for sharing. I can completely understand how the circumstances you describe would feel overwhelming and “trapping” to anyone. Tough stuff! I am concerned though about the way you phrased “wanting to relieve yourself from the pain” and that you didn’t because you didn’t want your kids to live without a mother. Implying that you’re thinking about killing yourself? If that is the case Mallory this is a crisis situation and you need to get professional help immediately. I know you feel like you can’t talk to anyone, but you must: Your life may depend on it. Please call the national suicide hotline number 800-273-8255 and let the person who answers know what is going on. They will be able to help you get connected to a licensed mental health professional locally. (NOT online). I hope you make the call Mallory. You and your kids (and your husband) need you to reach out!! xoxo, Lisa

  13. I have a daughter it has an eight-year-old daughter. She was divorced. We all live in the same small hometown. She feels trapped because she’s dating someone that will be moving 6 hours away from where her daughter goes to school and her entire family is. She would love to have a different life outside of the small hometown. And her. Could take her anywhere. But with custody sharing. She feels hopelessly stuck and trapped. In this small Hometown. What advice can I give to her. She would like to continue growing her family and being a loving relationship. But she just doesn’t see opportunity and such a small community. And really enjoys bigger communities that have more to offer. Help. I feel so sad for her.

  14. Dear Lisa,

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice.

    When I was in university I feel in love with this lovely boy and on the last year of uni (2008) he told me that his parents had forced him to marry a girl of their choosing (this is very common in my culture). He tried to get out of it, but his family cornered him and forced him to say yes. We could not contact each other after this as it would anger his parents, and it is frowned upon in our culture.

    After university i found several jobs and moved out of my parent’s home. I developed depression and have been suicidal at times. I did receive therapy, but it only helped to some extend. My parents and my siblings do not understand as they don’t believe in mental health as its often not acknowledged in my culture. This has caused my depression to worsen over the years.

    Earlier this month (March 2020) the boy from university popped up on my friends suggestion list on facebook and I added him. When we started talking it felt like we had just finished uni and 12 years had not gone by. He had not married the girl due to certain situations in the family such as family death. He moved to study medicine in Europe, as it was a way of getting out of the family environment. When i contacted him he was in his last year of uni with a final exam due. Within 2 weeks of talking and making plans to meet up he told me that his father has arranged a marriage proposal to the SAME GIRL!!!! Apparently she has been waiting for him and her family have been in touch with the date for sometime. He does not want to go through it but again he is being pressured and does not see a way out of it.

    I feel like history is repeating itself and the same actions and conversation are being said and there really is no hope. Because of the current situation with COVID-19 i really don’t want to speak to family and friends as they are worried about their own issues. Because of this i feel alone, stuck and abundant. I feel really stuck in my head and i am unable to sleep and i am consistently crying. My depression has also gotten a lot worse.

    What do i do? How do i fix this situation?

  15. RGB, I’m sorry to hear about the pain that this has caused you. In my experience if someone wants to be with you, they’ll move heaven and earth to make it happen. I’m hearing that you are getting a lot of excuses. One strategy to get to the heart of things that I’ve learned over the years is that if you look to what people do, rather than what they say, you’ll learn the truth. If words say “yes” but actions say “no” you’d be better off listening to what is being communicated through the actions. I also sincerely hope, for your benefit, that you’re getting involved in evidence based therapy for the treatment of your depression. I hope that by focusing on your own emotional wellness, it helps you cultivate positive relationships in your life with people who are able and willing to love you back – the way you deserve to be loved. xoxo, Lisa Marie Bobby

  16. Here’s one for the book: I dated a man for 14 years. He had a wife abroad who eventually arrived in US – we continued the affair. During those years, I would ask when we were going to marry; always an excuse. He told my father that we would marry, which was a lie. The affair ended. Within 600 days, he met and married a woman.
    I thought I would die. Guess what? We continue with the affair – I AM THE QUEEN OF BEING STUCK! I have ordered the online class for unsticking myself. I know, I could benefit most.

  17. Oh Patricia! Okay, this is not “being stuck.” This is being addicted to a toxic relationship. For real. Please go to the bottom of the post and type “toxic” in the search bar, and read some of the articles and podcasts I have there about toxic relationships and see what you identify with. And have you read the Exaholics book?? (If not please do, I think it will be really enlightening for you). I hope that as you learn more about what’s really happening here you connect with a good therapist or coach who can help you break this unhealthy attachment. You deserve so much better than this. Wishing you all the best, Dr. Lisa

  18. I’m glad you found it helpful in some way! Thank you for taking the time to let me know. Please do share it with anyone you think might benefit, too. That’s why we do this! Kindly, Lisa

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