The Intangible Tangibles

It used to look like this.

Missouri House before

Now it looks like this.


They used to look like this.

Boots Hello

Now they look like this.

Holey boots

The house and the boots were both tangible connections to my step into freedom from domestic violence. Now the house and the boots are being replaced. They are as intangible as the memories attached to them.

It’s sad. I’m sad. I’m surprised at how sad I am at hearing the house has been leveled.ย The house was old, built in 1951. It was out of date and (I’m pretty sure) not entirely up to code. The windows leaked, the doors leaked, the lights buzzed when you turned them on, and the whole heating and air system blew out from the center of the house so the rooms weren’t necessarily comfortable no matter what the thermostat was set at. It wasn’t a house to stay in forever. It was a starter house. It was our house (even as a rental).

When I escaped Donkey, the kids and I first lived in a domestic violence shelter in rural Missouri. We stayed there as long as we could – six weeks. I didn’t want to leave. It was safe. We were protected. The location was confidential and even my Mom didn’t know where we were. Once our time was maxed out, we moved out of the shelter and into my sister and brother-in-law’s home on the outskirts of St. Louis. I found a job and five months later we moved into The Brown House. There we lived together, the three of us, the new nuclear family, for a year and a half, until Donkey’s abuse once again turned our world inside out.

Every time we visit St. Louis now, my daughter asks to drive by The Brown House. It is dear to us. My son has only vague memories of it, and I think maybe he remembers more of the feeling than the location. My daughter and I feel connected to it. It was our Freedom House. It is where loved bloomed and outgrew the walls. It is where safety and security coupled with laughter and health to birth our new normal.

It was where we built a family garden together.

TBH garden

It was where we cooked together and ate together.

TBH meals

It’s where we celebrated holidays together.

TBH holidays

It’s where we played outside together.

TBH nature

It’s where each day ended with bathtime and bedtime.

TBH bath bed

It’s where we could be a mess and make a mess.

TBH mess

It’s where we could be ourselves.

TBH selves

It’s where our new life began and ended. Now the life that was is no more. Now the house that was is no more. Now the intangibles are what’s left as the tangibles disappear.



  1. Hi Melanie, thank you for a wonderful and very touching post. This is so sad. Are your children still with your abusive ex? Heila

    1. Thank you Heila. The kids do still live with Donkey. It’s impossible. He’s abusive to be and a jerk to the kids (probably abusive, just not physically yet).

      1. Hard to understand the judges or whoever made that decision. Hope you’re managing somehow … ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. The judge is a moron. He made a mistake, a big mistake, and jeopardized the future of two beautiful children. I’m managing because time has soothed some of the anger, and because I haven’t given up the fight to get them both back to a safe, loving, and supportive environment.

          1. Good that you haven’t given up the fight! Hugs.

  2. Beautiful post. I just hoped I had something more sensible to say then: can’t wait to see your new shoes.

    Yay transistions!

    1. Thank you Purni. I haven’t replaced the boots yet, but I think it’s time. They’re not comfortable anymore and the season is changing and I need some good, comfortable, and warm boots. It’s time for another chapter.

  3. It looks like a lot of fun and love happened in that house. Maybe that was its purpose; its last official purpose, to facilitate that for you. Now there are memories waiting to be made elsewhere, more growing, more loving, more fun and then more changes. Such is life; bittersweet sometimes.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. A lot of fun and love did happen in that house. We grew as a family and as individuals. Life is bittersweet. On one hand I’m sad because it was so important to us. On the other, I’m glad because that was a tumultuous time and where we lived when Donkey took the kids away.
      Thank you Carrie.

  4. What a beautiful touching inspirational post. I believe that house was your safe haven, and you can definately see that there was lots of good times and love in it. Thank you for sharing your family pics,,I love the one of your son in front of the tv,,so cute.

    1. Thank you. That TV picture is one of my favorites. He hasn’t changed much either. He’s still a boots boy, but he’ll keep his underwear on now (but still firmly in the no-clothes camp).

  5. Tears too early in the morning. I am saddened that at this time those amazingly beautiful children are not with you to make new memories. BUT, its amazing how the universe works and I believe that eventually-hopefully sooner than later-you will get that chance to make new memories once again. I love baby girl twirling, and that handsome man naked in front of the tv? Um is he related to my kids? My daughter loves to be naked with only her crocs…

    1. I had the whole office to myself yesterday, so I let myself cry over it all. I was taken back by how sad I was at the news of the house, and then I went through all the pictures I have from that time (which is over 400, holy moly) and I cried til I had no tears left.
      That TV picture is so classic to my son. Boots and nothing else. He’s still like that almost two years later, but he’ll wear his big boy undies with his boots now.

  6. Bob, the Dad of a Daughter of abuse. · · Reply

    At least he’s wearing HIS boots in that pic. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. He does look just as adorable in mine as he does in his.

  7. *hugs* The positive intangibles are the things that matter, in the end. Now with this blog post, you’ve preserved them. That’s beautiful. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh Rara, thank you. Things never last as long as memories. The memories can be taken anywhere, but the things associated with them can’t always be put in a pocket and carried around.

      1. Exactly! That’s the great thing about memories — they can be pulled out and examined or cherished at a moments notice– no need to drive to them. ๐Ÿ™‚ (and thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

    2. P.S. Congrats on the Freshly Pressed honor today!

  8. My heart goes out to you xo

    1. Thank you Zoe. You’re so sweet.

  9. Big hugs. wonderful post and I hope you get your kids back. Where they belong.

    1. Thank you Jackie. I hope they come home to me too. It will happen, as long as I don’t give up on the fight.

  10. Bittersweet intangibles. Life wouldn’t be the same without them. They are a reminder of the risk and reward of pursuing life instead of being pursued by it. Your boots, the brown house and all those memories speak of the life you are pursing. It’s worth every tangible step.

    1. I do try to pursue life, though I sometimes feel life is pursuing me. I’ve lost so much, and these are being added to the list. I’ve also gained. I have these memories of those two wonderful, and safe, years we had together and no one can take that from me, not even Donkey.

      1. Without question those memories are yours to enjoy and cling to. You earned them; you deserve them. It really does pain me to consider what you’ve lost. I am so sorry for that. But I also know you have so much more ahead, for yourself and your children, that โ€” just like the life you are pursuing โ€” Donkey will have no claim to.

        1. I do have a whole life ahead of me, and I plan to live every moment of it. Donkey can’t take that from me. Nor can he take that I’ve taken my loss and used it to end some of the silence and bring awareness to domestic violence.

          1. Cheers to that. And to you.

            1. Thank you. Many times.

speak loudly, donkeys are sleeping

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