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Your Emotionally Abusive Husband Doesn’t Get to Define You

Your Emotionally Abusive Husband Doesn't Get to Define You

This is the second of a series of articles where I hope to tell my own story of getting away from emotional and spiritual abuse using Sara’s songs as my backdrop (check out the Spotify playlist for women healing from abuse). Through her music, Sara Bareilles held my hand and walked me all the way through.

Your Emotionally Abusive Husband Doesn’t Get to Define You

Every year without fail we watched The Wizard of Oz on television. When Dorothy woke up in the land of Oz, and everything was in full color, it seemed like an honest-to-goodness miracle to my young brain. I didn’t understand movie magic, but I certainly understood its effect on me.

The same night I discovered the music video, Brave, on YouTube, I also found Sara’s music video, King of Anything. While Brave made me cry, King of Anything made me laugh.

And of course, when she goes from the black and white cafe where she’s stuck talking to a narcissist to a wild world of exploding color and total freedom, I had that same feeling I got as a child watching Dorothy wake up in Oz.

I was watching a miracle.

I think this was my very first glimpse of what could be. I related to that girl stuck in a black and white cafe hearing the same insane conversations on repeat. For decades.

The idea that there was a world outside of that cafe intrigued me.

A world of color? A world of beauty? A world where I was free to be myself? Where I could show up without feeling shame?

Was it as simple as just getting up and walking out?

I wondered.

Who Cares if You Disagree?

I cared.

All the humans had to agree with me, or that meant my opinions were bad. I mean, doesn’t that make sense? If my opinions were good, then everyone would agree!


Nope, a lot of folks disagreed. And yup, I cared.

But what if I didn’t care?

Suddenly, not caring became an option. A scary but tantalizing option. What if I was okay with just being me?

You are not me.

What if it was good that I was me, and they weren’t, and we were all separate, and that was all okay?

Maybe I could start caring more about myself and less about whether or not people disagreed.

The door of my prison popped open just a crack.

You Dare Tell Me Who to Be?

I had been defined by everyone important in my life. They told me who I was. They thought they knew. Like – they were TOTALLY CONVINCED they knew.

When I tried to protest, they told me why I was wrong about myself, and why they were right.

And I went along with them because they were the kings of anything.

The kings all know, no?

But Sara’s song.

My goodness, it was so in your face.

How dare you think that you can tell me who I am or who I need to be just to make you comfortable or happy? How dare you?!”

Yeah! How dare they!

All the little kings had handed me the masks they wanted me to wear and the roles they wanted me to play, and I thought I had to wear them or get in trouble. But seriously? I was in my late 40’s, for crying out loud.

And I was sick to death of playing all the wrong roles in their dramas.

Face down in the mud? Yes. But I could feel my feisty comin’ on.

Thank you, Sara. I’m think I’m ready to grow up.

It’s My Turn to Decide

I was still at the beginning of what would be an almost two-year physical separation, and I had a lot of decisions to make. Decisions about who I really was. Who I wanted to be. Who I no longer wanted to be.

Just like the girl in the song, I had spent my whole life trying to make everybody happy. And just like the girl in the song, I just hurt and hid.

And hurt and hid.

And hurt and hid.

And waited for permission to decide things for myself. You know. Permission from the kings of anything.


By the end of that two-year hell, I decided it was my turn to decide, and I didn’t need anyone’s permission to be the badass adult God made me to be.

I no longer sit in the black and white cafe staring out the window at the cars that pass by listening to another little king blab about who I am.

Instead, I’m out living my beautiful life in full, freaking color.

Because c’mon already.

Who made them king of anything?

Not me.

And also (in case you’re still struggling with the brainwashing) not God.

Fly Free,

Natalie Hoffman

King of Anything

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside
So many things I’d say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ’em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time,
And try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fastI hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost with no direction
But you’ll never see
You’re so busy making masks with my name on them in all caps
You got the talking down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
While I just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Let me hold your crown, babe

Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Sara Bareilles
King of Anything lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Flying Free Sisterhood

An online coaching, education, and support community for women of faith in destructive relationships.

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    July 11, 2020

    Wow what a beautiful song. Made me cry good tears.

  • Avatar
    July 11, 2020

    I love this!! Just what I needed this a.m.

  • Avatar
    July 11, 2020

    I sang this song for several years , out loud as I hiked and tried to strengthen and reclaim myself as I prepared to leave a 27 yr marriage of covert passive aggressive Narcissistic abuse. At the time I didn’t have those labels I only knew that what she was singing was speaking to me on a visceral level! It was my dynamic meditation… and still is when I have to watch him do the same manipulations to my now adult children ! Thanks Sara! Thanks Natalie and thanks to Munner Fox who first innocently labeled him as “ King Ken”

  • Avatar
    July 10, 2020

    I love this so much.

  • Avatar
    Susan Cooke
    July 10, 2020

    My favorite line is “ride off into your delusional sunset.”

  • Avatar
    Kelly Orr
    July 10, 2020

    Yes!! Good for you, Natalie!
    This song was a great inspiration for my kids and me, too, as we went through the same un-brainwashing time in our lives.
    Thank you, Sara Barielles, for saying what we wanna say – what we *can* say!
    And thank you, Natalie, for sharing this part of your journey and for all the soul-fattening and encouraging ways you help us get our faces out of the mud!