Validation & the road to leaving the comfort zone (NOT MINE) behind

It’s been a while since I’ve posted - I’ve been pretty swamped with life and work. So if you’re a skip to the end sort, the thesis of this is as such:

The pressures of trying to carry the burden of not only financial responsibility in my marriage mixed with the necessity for my husband of living in the same house as my mother in law, has finally hit an irreparable and potentially freeing, breaking point.

I’m trying to decide what’s right for me with job opportunities, while also preparing to go to Canada. I have a conference in Toronto in a couple weeks (part of some of my work uncertainty - who am I going on behalf of? As I’m with two agencies and also represent a green coin) and then go to Vancouver for at least a month. My original plan was to drive with dog and husband, but my husband can’t justify the costs while he’s looking for work. Anyway, it’s a lot, sort of great that I’ll have untethered time with friends and family, but sad as I’ll miss him. He’s also exceedingly insecure about me and Canada, and worries that I won’t want to come back.

Reader: it hasn’t really crossed my mind that I wouldn’t come back till he said it. But his insecurity is both sad and kind of frustrating. I don’t feel like he’s done enough to try and find opportunities. I know, we aren’t supposed to “should” people or use our personal lens on others and expect to see the same thing. But I work really hard to stay relevant, avoid gathering career moss and am always aware that any contract I have could go away. The financial burden of this partnership rests solely on me, and that’s a lot, for both of us.

Anyway that’s a picture painted that some of you already are familiar with. Yesterday, we rescued two puppies from the house next to where we’re building. I love these dogs, brother and sister, sweetest dispositions. But - they are essentially wild, not fixed and getting to an age where it’s worrisome that hormones will take over and unwanted, incest puppies will happen. The owner agreed to let us take them and get them fixed and care for them while they heal, which is honestly a big triumph in my marriage. When I first suggested it to my husband, he was aghast and didn’t want to meddle, have our home uprooted and I think - at some level - he didn’t like my fixation on reproductive control. That’s a whole other ball of (barbed wire) wax.

We live above my MIL, who I’ve mentioned, really dislikes me. I work from home, so while our house is split in two totally separate living spaces, I pass her window every time I leave, which is often, and now more often because we have two extra dogs to care for.

Yesterday was a big day! A lovely article about my husband and my meeting went up, something I was excited but scared for, fearing repercussions from my violently abusive ex. But / knock on wood - so far the response from friends and total strangers has been nice. In any case, he and I talked a lot about our meeting, the hardships we’ve endured to be together, and were grateful. Also it felt like sort of momentous timing, as I’d gotten him to agree to taking care of these puppies.

But - when we got home with them (- Herculean effort on my part, getting social but wholly untrained puppies into a car on the side of a dusty highway - I’m CERTAIN that it looked like I was dognapping), I had to run upstairs to get stuff to clean the puppies. Husband opened the window I pass every time I leave, where she’s always stationed, with the TV blaring. I’ve tried to explain to him before how it’s not only out of my comfort zone to stop and say hi to a woman who makes it clear she despises me, but it’s hard as she’s hard of hearing, I have a soft voice, and she’s always got the TV on as loud as it goes.

Anyway I said hi how are you, smiled, and went upstairs to get scissors for the tags on the collars and leashes I’d bought for the puppies. Then - she bellowed out, with a very unpleasant look on her face, accusatory and unkind and petulant (petulant at 84 is a weird look) “HOLA.” And I said hola back, again asked how she was, but she’d already launched into a diatribe about me, in front of me, to her son/my husband. I understand Spanish almost 100%, while I’m lacking confidence in my verb conjugations and also having to yell, I don’t speak it with her very often. My husband looked pained and tried to explain I’d said hi but she hadn’t heard me, but she kept going. A solid 9 minutes of her talking about how rude I am, I live upstairs and never talk to her, what’s wrong with me etc.

It took much of me to refrain from explaining that I’m paying for her son’s existence, and I pay her bills, but what would the point be?

For me, it was a painful but important validation in front of my husband, that his mother is awful to me, this isn’t tenable, and things have to change.
We talked about it, he knows now, and what it means for us? I love him, I want to remain his wife, but I will not live in this house anymore. It means me paying for the house we’re building to ramp up even more, but it’s worth it. He also claims that this will be the push he needs to get out of his “comfort zone” and find a way to provide so that we don’t live in this house anymore.

I have talked at length with some friends about the impact that this has been taking on our marriage, and a friend asked, point blank if we’d have issues if I didn’t live above her. I know we’d still have issues, but not having to factor in being quiet and aware that she’s always there, making me feel like a trespasser, I believe we’d be better. And I believe it’s worth finding out.

But - the point is - the breaking point has been reached and as much as yesterday made me sad, hurt, frustrated, hopeless - it also was the validator I needed for my husband to see. I can’t keep this going and the status quo cannot remain as such.

I feel like a fraud, given all the people so moved by our story, but I tried to be honest in it, that we’d not always had it easy, and that every day we set out intentions with our partnership. That is very true, and after yesterday’s encounter, I think his intentions have gotten clearer.

How long will I stay away? I don’t know. At least a month in Vancouver, maybe longer. I am so angry, but somehow less so, now that he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Before, when I didn’t understand Spanish, he could act like I was wrong, but the look on his face, in his lovely eyes, when he saw that I heard and understood everything that was being said about me, in front of me, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the presence of two extra puppies who love me and trust me to help them, but I feel more grounded and capable of enacting positive change, even if it’s as small as preventing more Mexican street dogs. And rescuing the female dog from the fate of most female dogs here, which I won’t share because it’s grim and I have already written a small opus.

I appreciate having this space to gather and put my thoughts, and do not expect answers or even anyone to read this - it just feels good to get it out.

Now off to take some puppies for a scary but essential surgery. On the bright side there - other than helping the dogs - I think I have found an animal welfare group here that I can connect with my contacts in Canada who are looking for dogs to foster, care for and place in furever homes.

*EDITED: wow typos. Sorry - I wrote this on my phone! But bonus is puppies in pictures.


It was great to hear from you! I’ve been wondering how you’ve been doing.

Definitely have a lot on your plate. Such a great kindness to help those few pups, we can’t solve it all but those gestures really make a positive impact. Thank you for that.

I’m just starting work so I can’t chat but I’m glad you’ve found an outlet to chat/vent, we’re all here for you if you need us - in whatever capacity that is.

Stay strong & remember that you’re worthy of everything you want in life, you don’t have to completely fit in their molds. You just need to make sure to save some energy for yourself too!

All the best & keep in touch!


Kimber - it’s so good to hear from you and get an update! It sounds like there’s so much going on. Getting out to Canada will be great to clear your head. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve gotten to a point where you have clarity on what has to change in order to continue on. Time has a way of sorting things out. Your road ahead will be clear as life happens. Sending you so much XOXO!


Hi my friend. Thanks for checking in here with our group! You know my DMs are always open and definitely here for you. I am happy for you that you can come back home soon for a while and it should give your husband some space too to consider how things are and how they will need to change if you two are going to give a serious crack at fixing the marriage. I hear so much love through your writing - the love you have for your husband, the pups, and it’s just hard that love is being tested with not only the financial pressure and pressure of living in a foreign country and the child issue but with your MIL’s constant scrutiny. At least now your husband can see you cannot continue to live with her if there is any chance to make this work.

You have endured so much in your past and you deserve to find that loving, mutual, peaceful love. You have so much capacity to give and I hope you can find some clarity when you are away.


Oh man so much going on! Keep us posted on what you decide to do!

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Thank you - all of you, I feel so supported. And reading over this, I realize this is rather a lot. I think we (or at least I, shouldn’t speak for anyone else) often minimize how much we take on and sometimes putting it out in writing gives useful context.

This is a lot. Today while I was trying to leash the sweet squirming babies to take for a gentle amble, I was on the phone and replying to slack messages and a shirtless man with a machete came up to the gate and started demanding we hire him to trim our trees. We live on a pretty busy street and I’m often a goldfish - always visible. I explained while juggling dogs and work, my husband was at work and that I couldn’t talk, please leave me alone. He insisted and insisted and wouldn’t leave, demanded I produce my husband, money, or when he’d be back. I was shaking with rage, got him to back off, and then chased the dogs down again, took them for a very awkward walk (lampshade meet calf x 10000) while talking to a friend. He rightly pointed out that this is not okay, so I sat with the puppies and angry cried for a bit. The outside looking in with care is also a useful validador.

I told my husband, he’s going to speak to the guy, which again puts me in an awkward spot because he’s like the neighborhood machete guy who trims the trees (ALL THIS READS PERFECTLY NORMAL, RIGHT?). But I won’t have him at my house while I’m working from home and my husband is away.

Once again I’m stream of consciousness typing and once again, I’m sorry. This is all just so ludicrous. But - I’m made to feel like I’m the weird one for taking issue with this.

Last week I hid by the washing machine because an overly familiar older man who tried to kiss me was lurking out front of my gate.

In one month, I fly to Vancouver. In 17 days, I fly to Toronto.

I told my husband, while shaking and crying and explaining that I feel extra awful because his mother probably saw/heard, another way I feel trapped - I’m so unhappy. I don’t have any other way to put it except that I’m so unhappy.

And universe: (she types grandly) if you are listening, I don’t need any further validation. I’m good

Now here’s a puppy to break the tension.


thank you for the kind words!

I am glad to have support from you and others in this group.

hope all is well with you!

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Omg what the hell? A guy with a machete. Hello universe this is too much!!

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Hello cute puppy!!

The machete thing is unnerving for sure but I do also think people in other countries view those more as a tool than a weapon? It happened to me when I was traveling in southern africa where men walked around with machetes and seemed menacing but they were just doing garden work. Regardless it did sound a bit like he was trying to intimidate you as a foreigner and respecting what you’re saying to him. I do have other female friends from Canada and the US living in Mexico and they do have to act quite assertive often to stand up for themselves and project themselves. They’ve also built up good communities of support and are accepted as “locals” but still they are aware of being the “outsider”

I’m so sorry that you felt shaken up though please hang in there and stay safe. Canada welcomes you with open arms very very soon :heart_eyes:

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it is sort of normal - as @ModLila said - I was freaked out when I first saw it, suddenly men wandering the streets, actively looking for work and money (understandable), with giant machetes. It’s more how he used it to intimidate me, I have attached a picture to show you how close he gets to me.

I was very distracted, the dogs had never been leashed before - and they are recovering from major surgery and in a new environment. I was trying to juggle multiple Slack requests and was just overwhelmed.

Anyway - it’s just all too much, and I feel weirdly calm about this. I don’t know what the future holds. But I am entitled to feel as I do, before I worried about feeling entitled, but this mess has been validating. This time next month, I’ll be back in Vancouver, and yes @ModLila - will accept Canada’s open arms. Not that Vancouver is perfect, it’s its own hellscape, but one that I understand.

I totally understand the machete thing having lived in Central America, but it’s used as a way to kill random snakes and get through grassy paths, and obj gif needed in self defense, but it’s not as a weapon to threaten others. That is not normal or ok. You don’t need any more validation but I’ll just say that I don’t know how you’ve made it this far, you are a seriously incredibly strong woman! It is a lot. My machete pic when hiking in the jungle :slight_smile:


thank you for sharing this! you are so strong (inside and out). I wouldn’t mess with you!

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@as_per_danielle @SocalGirl @Nadien and anyone I am missing:
I’m so sorry for the lack of updates. June was a bit bonkers with preparing to leave for a tech conference in TO (which I should write about for the single ladies - or anyone wondering where confident, intelligent, employed, conversational lads are at!) and then for my long (how long!? don’t know) summer in BC.

  • still in Mexico, understands gravity of our situation, doing everything in his power to get us out of the house we’re in, into a new one and area, working hard on the house we are building, misses me but gets that I need to be away
  • I am well, had the JOY of seeing @ModLila in real life, and I am enjoying being my best version of myself, letting go as much as possible of the negativity I was living in for a couple of years, and recalling the good things about my life/our life

Everything is still sort of up in the air, with the difference of space - and quiet. I can figure out what matters to me from afar, while he figures out what he needs to - or doesn’t. I have been as clear as I can be, and for now, taking each day as it comes, trying to be my best version (read: truest) of myself for my friends and beloved, aging parents is what I am focusing on.

Hope all of your summers are going well! I will deep dive into things here I have missed. Work has been enjoyably manic in pace, so I haven’t been as active here as I’d like.


Thanks for keeping us all updated and including our crew here. It was SO GREAT to hang out with you in the real world :heart_eyes: and we will def be scheduling another hang when I’m back in town.

I love that you are having a great start to summer and being really true to you. The space you have apart right now is probably the best thing you can give to the relationship given the amount of work that needs to be done on your partner’s part. He is clear now on what it is that you need and want, and you can’t control what he chooses or chooses not to do about it. It must feel mentally freeing to have that load off you, even with the uncertainty that this brings.

Hope everyone else is having a fab summer so far too!

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@Kimber just checking in with you! Hope all is well with life. Any updates you would like to share?

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Hi @ModLila & the wonderful SS!
Where to start. Well - I had a great summer in Vancouver and enjoyed my monogamously single summer. What I mean there is running around, doing whatever I wanted, without any extramarital anythings. Just fun, flirting, and being wholly independent. It was glorious, and I loved feeling safe and welcome in my hometown and country of origin.
Husband is not quite as “changed” as he swore he’d be, we’re getting in preposterous arguments that I try and calmly address with what I think is respectful feedback. But - he’s 54 and sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with a petulant, at times manipulative, teen.

Our dog family has grown, it already grew to 2 when I got back, which I loved, but the 2nd puppy from the duo we got fixed came back to us yesterday, quite sick. Abandoned by a “gringo lady” (their words, not mine!), he needs intensive care, which luckily I can and want to provide.

However - I have been back for a week and have itchy feet and second thoughts.

The house we are building is beautiful but far from liveable. My mother in law returns on Sunday, and I am having intense anxiety/surprising resentment.

I’m looking into moving to Estonia, but now I have 3 dogs so that makes it hard to imagine, feasibility-wise.

Estonia, you ask? I met a character at the tech conference I was at in Toronto and he painted a fascinating picture.

Husband believes the key to his future is Canada. I have done a lot of intros that he’s left to languish.

Ask a simple question of me, get a mini opus.

How was everyone’s summer?

Life is…complex :slight_smile: I am so happy we got to meet up and I hope we will soon again wherever that may be (Canada or Mexico or who knows?). I’m also happy to hear you had your heart filled up by the sounds of things from your visit to home. A change of scenery is sometimes just what we need although.

I guess it’s too soon to tell what comes next since you’ve only been back for a short time. I know having the MIL back is going to complicate things even more and it sounds like things aren’t quite resolved yet on your husband’s side or within yourself either. But some progress is good…I feel like your house is symbolic of so much more than just the house and progress on that must be good.

When you say moving to Estonia, do you mean yourself only or with the husband and the dogs?

My summer has been hectic! Not to hijack your thread but I was starting to feel the summertime blues believe it or not. I never knew that was possible but I am happy September is here because I’m ready for back to school and business!!

Omg! I was literally just thinking about you yesterday and wondering what the update was! I don’t know how I missed your July post! Wow, that is quite a lot of activity and a lot to think through. You are definitely knee deep in the “mid life awakening”! This is your time girl. This is the time to decide how you want the second half of life to look and how you can show up the best you can in the world. Sounds like you’ve had some adventures! Sending you lots of positive vibes, energy, and can’t wait for the next update!! Let is know humid we can support you in any way!! :sparkles: