Is Solitaire Really “The Only Game In Town”?

23 Nov 2011


Do you remember the old song “Solitaire”?  Solitaire was, apparently, “the only game in town”.  But what makes it very like an abusive relationship may not be quite what you think.

Have you ever spent time playing Solitaire on the computer?

After my abusive husband left, I used to play it until late into the night.  I did it to numb the sense of rising panic.   I did it again, this summer, when my partner was so ill.

Today I discovered, quite by chance, that despite all the newer, better games you can play, I’m not the only one.

But for me the really interesting thing about Solitaire is this.  I know it’s a mindless game – and there are times when ‘mindless’ is good.  But I have my limits.  I get to the end of a game that didn’t work out, and a pop-up tells me there are no more possible moves – just in case I was too dim to work it out for myself.

And then comes the killer line: the pop-up asks me, would I like to replay that game!! 

At that point, I have been known to mutter: “I’m not a complete idiot.”

I know that, if I were to restart the game, it probably wouldn’t work out any better.

There are certain pointless experiences that are not worth repeating.

And yet, as emotionally abused women, we’ve all done it.

We’ve all reached the end of our abusive relationship, reached the point of saying: “Enough…”

And then what happens?

Our abusive (ex)partner does his best pop up impersonation, and asks us if we’d like to restart the relationship.

Logic – and sanity – might suggest our only reply would be a very firm: “You’ve got to be kidding!   Hell could freeze over before…”

But what do we do? 

Usually we go back, to see if we could play the same hand any differently.

Often we go back again, and again, and again.

And the same hand plays out in the same desperately disappointing way – which was the only way it could play out.

Why am I saying this to you, now? 

Because it’s That Time of year, again.

We’re going into the Holiday Season.

And the Holiday Season is the hardest time of year to be alone.  It’s the easiest time of year to feel like a F-A-I-L-U-R-E.

Which means it’s also the best time of year to slip into denial, ‘remember the good times’ and give Mr Pop-Up Abuser another chance.

I don’t know what you’ll be telling yourself, as the Holiday Hysteria takes a stronger and stronger hold on the collective psyche.  But here are a few labels I guess you might be using to beat yourself up – they’re certainly the ones I used to beat myself up:

  • Failure
  • Loser
  • Not good enough
  • Pathetic
  • Reject

Let’s be absolutely clear about this:

You are NOT a failure. 

You’re a ridiculously nice woman who landed up in a relationship with a man whose behavior was toxic.  That toxicity led to the failure of the relationship.

As a nice woman, you are prone to emotional wobbles, and self-blame.  It’s sad, but true.  It doesn’t have to be like that.  There are things you can do to kick that tendency.  But, right now, that’s the way it is.

You need to know that.

It’s not a crime.  And it’s not The End of the World.

It is a damn nuisance if you let Mr Pop-Up Abuser worm – I use that word advisedly – his way back into your heart over the holiday season.

If he’s at a loose end, right now, and wants to be looked after over the next month or so, he’s probably thumbing through his well worn copy of The Abusers’ Handbook right now, studying the Chapter entitled “Feeble Kiss and Make Up Lines”.  Before the holiday season is over, you might well hear any, or all of these lines:

  • “I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.”
  • “We can still have a great future together.”
  • “I’ve seen the light.”
  • “I love you, and want to make you happy.”
  • “I need you.”
  • “I want to be a better person, but I can’t do it without your help.”
  • “Can’t we give the relationship another try?”
  • “I’ve changed.”

So, if you’re telling yourself the only way you can be happy over The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year is if you have a partner, you’ll be very, very vulnerable.

You’ll also be totally WRONG.

You know what he’s like: your world is meant to revolve around him.  When it doesn’t, because you have family, or friends, who have more deserving claims on your time and attention, he’ll morph back into Mr Nasty…

And it will ALL be your fault, again. 


Of course, you can play that hand of cards again, if you choose to.  But it won’t work out.

It’s Thanksgiving now.  You can tell yourself a sad story about being a relationship zero, or you can give thanks for having survived so much, and starting to see a way forward.

Christmas is hurtling towards us.  You can tell yourself the old story about it being too sad not to be in a loving relationship at Christmas; or you can rejoice at being spared the attention-seeking behaviour, the temper tantrums, the spoiling techniques.

The New Year beckons.  You can go into it bearing yet more of the emotional bruises he dishes out.  Or else you can make it a brand new start.

This is the time of year when sentiment runs away with people.  If you don’t want it to run away with you, think Solitaire.  There are no more moves left.  Do you really want to restart the game?

If you’re tired of Solitaire being the only game in town, you CAN change that.

If you’re tired of hoping for ‘Better Luck Next Time’, CLICK HERE



Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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