TO A PUMPKIN EATER
"Let me tell you, living in a pumpkin shell isn't much fun. I know; I've lived in one for over eight years. My husband, Peter, is not a bad person, but I cannot stand being cooped up in that hollowed out shell of his. It's getting to me. I need to escape somehow, but I don't know where to turn. My friends, who used to come by but don't anymore, would tell me to leave him. I've told them what I am telling you; I'd have nowhere to go if I left Peter. I am afraid to leave, but it hurts to stay in his pumpkin shell.
"My friends have also tried to help me understand why Peter acts the way he does. The best we can determine is that he is insecure about his ability to keep me as his wife. Therefore, Peter's insecurity forces me into his shell-a pumpkin shell no less! He locks me up to control me. I feel trapped by his so-called love for me. When I try doing something about my life, Peter gets suspicious. You can't imagine how it feels to have these orange walls closing in all around you. There is no escaping Peter's prison of protection. I'm in his shell for life. I can't grow or even go anyplace without him getting upset. Why can't he understand that my life is hell? I'd rather be dead than alive inside that pumpkin shell."
Is this simply a silly story from a nursery rhyme or is it an all too real description of life for many women? Would that this were limited to the pages of Mother Goose. Unfortunately, this story is real life for millions of American women. The only thing that changes is the size, shape, and color of the pumpkin shell. Some pumpkin shells are tenement flats and others are Main Line mansions. Whether plain or opulent, it matters not to the prisoner. Many women live lives not much removed from the experiences of Peter's wife.
What can you do when you find yourself married to a man like Peter? If you find yourself cloistered inside a pumpkin shell of existence, there are many things you must do now. Express your feelings about your situation. Slavery isn't in vogue nor is it constitutional in America. You should not be expected nor required to live in that type of servitude. If you have tried before and your pumpkin eating captor hasn't listened, find a friend who can help you draw up plans to get you out of your shell of slavery. You can get out-if you choose to do so.
Once you physically are able to get out, get yourself into counseling. Group or individual therapy is essential so that you don't return to your abuser or find a different abuser. There is an old Scandinavian proverb that states when someone kicks you, it is that person's fault. But, if you get kicked again, you both share the fault. That is tough talk coming from a male and one who hasn't been abused, but it is nonetheless true. You must take the responsibility for your life and well-being. You must cease being the victim. I've counseled hundreds of women who have been abused emotionally, sexually, or physically. One time is too many times. Do not ever tolerate it.
"He put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well." Now, there is a male-chauvinist statement. No one is ever kept very well in an abusive situation. Don't allow someone else to keep you. You keep yourself. That's your job and your job only.
One excuse some pumpkin shell women give for remaining in an abusive relationship is that they believe they won't be able to find another person to marry. My response to that is "great." Why do you want to endure abuse for the benefit of having a husband? And, after all, there are men out there who can care without controlling. You need to exit the abusive situation and control your own life.