For my Friend

30 Oct

So, after twenty five years of marriage why did I finally decide to leave?  I had thought long and hard about it, weighted up the pros and cons but I kept coming back to the same conundrum.

The question was – how bad is bad?

Having been brought up to believe that I should work at relationships and that it was right to do everything in my power to maintain a happy home life for our children, over time I became  conditioned to the jibes, insults and abuse which I received over the years.  I wouldn’t say that they no longer had the power to hurt me, but they became the norm.  In an effort to try to place my sense of normal on a scale comparative to that of other people, I finally plucked up the courage to phone a colleague and a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while.  I asked my friend if I could pick her brains about a personal matter over a coffee one Sunday morning.

I drove over to her house and after catching up on each others’ news, I announced that I was thinking of leaving AW.  I added that I wondered if, as a neutral person with no axe to grind she could help me to make sense of my predicament.  An hour or so later I left her house feeling a huge sense of relief that I had made that call. I was gratified that she hadn’t laughed at me but had taken my questions seriously.   She had also given me some sound solid advice and plenty of food for thought.

Ultimately, I did finally find the courage to tell AW that I needed some space in which to think about the way that our marriage was going, but from the minute that I left him, I was not allowed any space at all.  AW bombarded me with texts, phone calls and emails, visited my office and he constantly bothered my friends and family in an effort to persuade me to return.  That first week was very hard and many times I found myself questioning what on earth I was thinking.  The easiest road to take would be to return home, put up with the abuse and just pick my way through the rest of my life – after all, who can hold their hands up and claim to have a perfect life?

On day ten, on the Sunday morning, I received a text from my friend.  Basically she asked how I was doing and advised me to hang on in – or rather out there. She advised me that one week of ‘space’ was probably not enough for most people to work out what they truly wanted but even less so for me as I was not being allowed to get any space at all.  AW did not respect me enough to allow me my own thoughts or opinions, although I see now that he was running scared.  He was scared that away from his influence I might actually realise that I didn’t want to be with him.  He was angry that I had dared to question how he treated me and gob-smacked that I had taken matters into my own hands.  Instead of making an effort to listen to me and crediting me with the ability to make up my own mind, he blustered and shouted, was angry and threatened me and my friends.

Just as I was on the point of caving in and returning to what had been the norm, the text landed in my inbox with a ping and I read what my friend had written.  She was not advising me to leave or to stay, she was not telling me that my marriage was not worth fighting for, but she was saying that I owed it to myself to come to my final decision with a clear mind.  Such a monumental decision as I was about to undertake surely deserved full consideration in a peaceful environment.  I took on board what she had written to me.  I recognised that AW was attempting to bully me into a quick decision, no doubt hoping that I would get flustered or frightened into believing that I would be unable to cope as a single person.

That Sunday I made the decision to remain away from our shared home for at least a second and possibly a third week.  No matter what the outcome, I wanted to contemplate all my available options in full, in peace and by myself.

So why write this post now?

Well, my friend is currently not very well and whilst she is fighting her illness, it has brought home to me how fragile we all are.   My friends and family all know – or I hope they all know – how much I value them and their support, not just through my divorce but in all aspects of my life.  But just in case they don’t realise it, I want to say a huge thank you to them all, beginning with my friend.   You know who you are and you persuaded me that I could trust my own opinion and that I should allow myself the time to discover myself.  I do believe that even if I had caved in and returned to AW during that second week, the relationship was already doomed.   I believe that the seeds were sown and the scales had fallen from my eyes (where on earth does that expression come from?).  I had finally recognised that it was not normal to be insulted and belittled either at home, or worst, in front of people at social events, and I was not going to put up with it any longer.  I know that had I returned at that time I would eventually have left for good as AW’s behaviour would never change.

Without identifying my friends (because we all know that can lead to unwanted attention from AW) I will post the occasional shout outs and thank yous.

And so this post goes out to my friend who is in hospital.  You are showing incredible resilience and bravery.  I hope that your spirits and those of your family are being boosted by the sheer numbers of positive messages from your well-wishers which I know have been pouring in for you.  You are loved by many.  Draw strength from this and may every day find you getting stronger and stronger xx

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4 Responses to “For my Friend”

  1. Emma Louise Phillips October 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    This actually made me cry! Your friend is a good woman (or man?) and you deserve to have such friends as you are an honest and lovely person too. Keep going!

    • Scarlet Jones October 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      Thank you so much for your lovely words. I only wish that I could name my friend but too many of them have been on the receiving end of AW’s phone calls, letters and texts

  2. Annie Hidden October 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Both you & your friend are amazing people & I am proud to call myself a friend of you both xx

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