I had a dear friend once. She was originally from England. She had a uniquely marvelous perspective on the American world. She was one of the few truly honest persons I had ever known. I loved her within minutes of meeting her.
I came to learn that her husband was terribly critical of her. He found fault with everything she did or said. They seemed to love having company, but he would embarrass her mercilessly in front of guests. Having been there, done that I watched her face as he denigrated on her in the company of their friends. She put up a brave face, but I saw the tiny wrinkles in the corners of her eyes, I knew she was crying inside. I also knew that there was trouble brewing.
At the time, I was still recovering from my life as a battered wife. I knew that the minute someone was kind to her, she would fall victim to a new problem. I couldn’t find a way to share this with her. It seemed completely out of line for person so new to their lives to be projecting the downfall of their marriage. I did, though, share this feeling with my companion, who had known her before I did. How do you tell someone you barely know that you know what is in her heart? I couldn’t. I didn’t know where to start. Today, I would have tried. Then, I wasn’t capable.
Eventually it happened. A charming man came out of the blue and swept her off her feet and out of her marriage. Unfortunately, I reacted badly. I thought he was a creep. He had a wife he couldn’t leave, adult children who would criticize him if he left, and the whole miserable “will you be content to be my mistress?” package.
It was too late, she was in love with this man. She was, truly, helpless to ignore his attentions. She moved out of her home, filed for divorce, and took up with him. The only thing I could do was to tell her that married men don’t leave. They just don’t leave. They never leave. This I absolutely believed to be the truth. The whole situation was hopeless in my mind. But she was peaceful, at long last. He didn’t criticize her. He didn’t embarrass her. She was happy to be second best in the life of a kind man.
I thought she was better than that, but what did I know?
Unfortunately, I passed judgment. I didn’t like him. I thought he was using her, and when I was finally able to tell her this, she rejected my judgment. I lost my friend, trying to protect her from a man she loved.
I wish I knew the moral of this story. I believe that when a woman is battered (emotionally, verbally, physically, or in whatever way) that she is no longer in control of her own heart and mind. She is confused, overloaded, beaten down, and without the necessary ego sensations to protect herself.
On the other hand, if she needs a friend, and you are her friend, it’s better to remain her friend than to criticize her judgment. Don’t leave her alone. Be kind to her. She needs you. Now, many years later, I wish that I could tell her how much she meant to me. I wish that I still had my friend.