Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Open Letter to my Friend Airman

I have avoided saying anything up 'til this point, because I know it will fall on deaf ears...and possibly hostile ones.

I do not want to cause you more trouble, and nor do I want to do something that will fry the last tenuous connection in our friendship, but I promised you I would speak out.  I promised I would remind you.  I promised.  And I promised because you asked me to.  Don't let me forget, you said.  Promise me.  Remind me why I left.

My gut-level reaction is to not even bother.  After all, our friendship has drifted so far from where it was.  I'm no longer one of your five-finger friends.  Your husband does not value my opinions--indeed, he values none but his own--and I'm sure he would do or say whatever he needed to in order to convince you that I'm wrong.  Not only wrong, but stupid.  Why should I waste my breath when you'll ignore me?

But I promised.  Even my husband reminded me of that.  He cares about you, too.  He knows I don't take a promise lightly, even though he understood my hesitation.  You promised, he reminded me.  You need to consider that.

I promised I would remind you of why you left him.

I should have said something long before now.

I should have said something when you obviously were spending more time with him, more than just "because I like his company, when I can have it on my terms."

I should have said something on your third anniversary, a few weeks ago, when you said on Facebook about how much you love him and how much you realized you wanted to be married to him, and your other friends' collective reaction was, "Awwww, how sweet."

They were not the ones you called, in tears, to tell me the latest insults your "loving" husband had heaped on you.  They were not the ones you wrote to, via snail mail, to keep him from reading your private communications...because he was monitoring your cell's texts, your Facebook private messages, your Facebook wall, your email accounts.  They were not the ones who you begged to remind you of why you left.

They can think it's sweet.

Because they didn't provide a shoulder for your tears, advice, sympathy, empathy, righteous indignation on your behalf over his treatment of you.

That was me.

I'm not egotistical enough to believe I'm the only one you vented to.  I know I wasn't.  I also know I'm not the only one concerned over your announcement on Facebook that you're moving back in with your emotionally- and mentally-abusive husband.  But I took calls, I cried with you, I cried for you, I chatted with you on Skype.  I did my best, despite the 300+ miles between us, to be there for you.

I also know that these friends who commented about how sweet it was that you still want to be married to your abusive husband are likely more his friends than truly yours.  And, true to form, they wouldn't think for a minute that the man who calls you "kitten" has also called you terrible names; told you you're worthless and can't do anything right; told you that you're such a horrible mother that your son will be a criminal, your oldest daughter will become a hooker, and your middle daughter will run away by age 15; that you're so inept your dreams will never amount to anything; and that you are a complete and utter failure.  This is the same man who's told you that it only took you a year to learn how to wake him up the right way.  This is the man who tells you that you can't even do laundry right, and calls you by your daughter's name to emphasize his point that you're too stupid to be a functional adult.  This is the man who wants to determine who can be your friends, and doesn't trust you enough to have any friends that he doesn't rubber-stamp.  Especially friends who are men.  I'm pretty sure I am also on his list of unapproved friends.

This is the man who will spew out vitriol on anyone who dares to disagree with him.  This is the man who can't handle anyone who disagrees with him, so he belittles them and makes fun of them and calls them names and insults them.  And he does this to people he actually calls his friends!  Those who disagree with him, especially in areas of religion, are branded as stupid and mindless at best, child abusers at worst (yes, I have not forgotten his Facebook post, claiming that those who raise their children in the church are committing child abuse).  I have not come across another person yet who has been so angry, all of the time, at so many people, like he is.  He has bashed your heritage--a heritage that, while I disagree with its tenets, is still your heritage and I respect that--so much and so well that you have now turned your back on your faith.  He's alienated you from your family, and, I think, deliberately so.

He forced you to write apologies to friends for "lies" that you told them.  I got one of those.  You weren't confessing anything I didn't already know; there was no "wrong" between us in that respect.  But he told you that you were such a horrible person and had lied to so many people for so long that you needed to apologize to five friends a day for an entire week, in writing, for your "lies."  He monitored your Facebook messages and email accounts to make sure you apologized to enough people each day.  If you didn't show the messages to him to prove you did it, he was going to leave you, take you to court, and do everything in his power to hurt you.

He scares your three oldest kids.  They don't like him.  I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like anyone you married that isn't their dad, but I know they don't like him.  Little kids are pretty good judges of character, and while your middle daughter is older than all three of my kids, she's still young enough that she's not fooled by your husband.

He blames you for everything that went wrong in your relationship.  Oh, I'm sure there's plenty of blame to go around.  There always is in a marriage.  But that doesn't excuse his abuse.  It doesn't excuse him congratulating you for taking "only a year" to learn something he thinks you should have mastered long before.  It doesn't excuse his micro-managing of your friends and his isolation of you from your family.  It doesn't excuse his constant belittling.  It doesn't excuse his controlling behavior.  It doesn't excuse his emotional abuse that's so severe that you wish he would just hit you, because the physical pain and the bruise would at least give you proof of what he's doing.  It doesn't excuse his threats to emotionally rape you in court, filing for sole custody of your daughter because you're such a terrible mother and person...and then emotionally rape you some more.

A man who truly loves you would not say such things.  A man who truly loves his daughter wouldn't use her as a threat.

In the last three and a half to four years, I have watched the abuse cycle move through your relationship half a dozen times.  You've left him several times, and each time, you've gone back.  Because he's promised it's different now.  He's promised he's changed.  He's promised to go to counseling with you.  He's promised he loves you and he would never, ever hurt you again.

I wonder how many times he will promise this stuff before you realize that he's lying.

He's lying this time, too.

Unfortunately, you're swallowing it whole.

I wish you wouldn't.

I wish you would realize that you're so much better off without him.  His approval is nothing.  His word is worthless; he's proved that.  You should not be basing your life around this man.  I know, because you share a daughter with him, that you cannot ever eradicate him fully from your life.  But you shouldn't think so little of yourself that you should believe his lies, believe that your marriage to him is the sole source of your security and self-worth, believe that this man is all you deserve.

You are worth so much more.  So. Much. More.

I wish you could see that.

I wish you could believe that.

And I wrote this to remind you, like I promised, like you asked me to, of why you left the last time...so that you could remember why you weren't going to go back.

Please don't go back.

You're worth so much more.