CW: Spousal abuse
I used to have a friend who, so far as I can tell, had never been in a relationship that wasn’t abusive. He was very open about it, telling stories of physical altercations of varying types – everything from being slapped to an ex running over him with her car. (“I went up and over the hood and she kept driving.”) He was dishearteningly matter-of-fact about it all.
Over the years, I encouraged him to leave the relationship he was in at the time, suggesting resources for men escaping domestic violence, and offering him a place to stay while he got back on his feet. I wasn’t pushy, only gently mentioning such things after he’d relayed another tale about whatever awful thing his girlfriend had done to him this time.
If I’m honest, I didn’t hold out much hope. His tactic to end previous relationships was to apply for a transfer within the company we worked for, more to a different city, and tell his girlfriend she wasn’t welcome to come. But we were now living in his hometown, so it seemed unlikely he’d leave.
However, much to my surprise, he did eventually tell me he’d had enough with his current girlfriend and was going to take steps to end things. Once again I offered my support – told him I was proud of him, said to call me if he needed help, and all those things one does when one wishes one could do more. And then I chewed my fingernails and worried, because I couldn’t see his girlfriend taking this well, and waited for our next phone call.
When that call happened, this is what he led with.
I’m getting married.
Yep. “I’m getting out” had changed to “Will you marry me?” And I get it. I understand why people in abusive relationships stay, and I know that they’ll make these kinds of broad direction changes in overcompensation for having had the thought of leaving in the first place.
Understanding doesn’t make it any easier to take, though.
It’s because it was hard to take, in fact, that I put this quote in the book in the first place. It was to serve as a reminder that no matter how much I might want to help someone, and no matter how much support I offer, sometimes they won’t make the decisions I want them to, and I have to accept that.
My friend and his girlfriend ended up having a kid, and so far as I know, are still together. I don’t know for sure, though, as my friend and I fell out some years back. He was always a bit of a jerk, if I’m honest, and I decided it was time to take my own advice and get the fuck out. It was the right thing to do. My life is a much healthier one with him not in it.
I’m glad that I, at least, took my advice.
To see previous posts in my Quotes series, click here.