Broken Heart

Old 04-27-2015, 04:50 PM
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Broken Heart

I may have a permanent rift with my best friend of 22 years because of her angry, abusive dry drunk husband. Ten years ago Jane was diagnosed with a very rare carcinoma in her abdominal area that, after surgery, required radiation. The radiation fried her intestines which required three more major surgeries over the following year. She's been struggling a lot since then but managing until her intestines stopped working two months ago. She entered the hospital for more surgery and during the past 55 days I've been gladly doing everything possible to help (bringing special food, getting her three dogs groomed and walking them).

I've rarely seen her husband over the past ten years after going to their weekend house. I was shocked when he constantly belittled her, his tone of voice pure contempt. If I weren't stuck in the country I would have left but I finally told him what I thought of the way he treated my friend (they've been married over 30 years). Of course he got furious with me and we didn't speak the rest of the trip.

I've also been Jane's AA sponsor for the past 21 years, but she's never talked about her marriage and I've learned not to give unsolicited advice. She's a wonderful person, giving, warm and loving, and has been there when I've needed help.

So two days ago, after 55 days in the hospital she was well enough to go home and asked me to help her. I thought it odd, her apartment is only five blocks from the hospital (I'm two miles away), why doesn't her husband get her, but I was so happy to help. We opened the door to the apartment and there stood her husband, looking like a slob having just gotten up at 1:30 p.m. He immediately started yelling at her, why didn't she call to tell him she was on her way. He continued to shout that he wasn't ready, what was her problem, she didn't care that he hadn't even had a shower.
I felt my blood boil as I witness this terrible scene but kept my mouth shut.

The following day I'd offered to wash the dogs since they were filthy and she couldn't. So I confirmed with her and left home, almost got to their apartment and she called and asked if I could come three hours later because her husband needed to take a shower to go out and it was inconvenient for him.

Yesterday I called her and of course she knew I was upset. She said her marriage is none of my business and she didn't want to talk about her husband. I said I will always be there to do anything I can, I love her, but I won't be in the same room with him again.

Of course she's codependent, she lives with an abuser who she thinks is just wonderful (no kids). I've been crying all day at the thought of loosing such a wonderful friend and have no idea what to do or say.

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Old 04-27-2015, 05:33 PM
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My heart is breaking for you. I am not sure there is much you can do.

Maybe let the air settle a bit and try to reach out then?

I am so sorry and know this must be painful!

Tight tight hugs to you!
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Old 04-27-2015, 06:36 PM
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I am so sorry to hear about the rift between you and your friend! It is hard to watch someone you care for be spoken to in an abusive way. I don't blame you for not wanting to be around your friend's husband--I wouldn't either.

I'm afraid you will never be able to make her 'see the light'. Sadly, that is something she will have to do on her own. Maybe she will reach out again at some point when she needs your help.
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Old 04-27-2015, 07:47 PM
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Almost two years ago my best friend 's (of 50 years) husband went to jail on a drunken domestic charge against her (. We grew up as next door neighbors, been BFF's since we were 4 years old.)

Of course he was released and one of the conditions of his release was "no contact". Within three days of his release they are texting and emailing each other. Within a week they are meeting in remote areas.

By day she was crying on my shoulder about what a mess her life was, by night she is shacking up with him. Bottom line ,I had to take a step back and allow her the dignity to figure it out for herself. Almost 2 years later, they are still together.

He was court ordered to AA and anger management, he is still an angry drunk, and about every other weekend, there is a nasty exchange between the two of them, but I have come to the conclusion, she is living her life as she see fit.

Like you, I will not be in the same room with him. When she and I are together, we no longer talk/discuss him, if she brings him up, i quickly change the subject, or leave. And that is for my sanity, I have to accept I don't get to choose for her.

Yes, it has been a strain on our lifelong friendship, but I refuse to be sucked into that vortex of batsh*t crazy. We all have free will, we all can choose, and this is what she chooses, so be it.

The older I get , the more I realize people only do what they want. Nobody is holding a gun to her head. She has her own money, she has her own home, yet she is choosing this life and lifestyle, so be it..........

I agree with knowthetriggers, perhaps a break is in order, give each of you a chance to refocus and gather your thoughts. Sorry this is happening, I truly understand your tears. hang in there.
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Old 04-27-2015, 08:52 PM
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Thank you all for your kind comments. Yes, I'm pulling back and I hope she reaches out if I can help. I've avoided talking about him for years. It's so hard because she is a wonderful, warm, loving person who is very, very sick. I guess I can pray for her and that's all.
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Old 04-27-2015, 09:14 PM
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It's hardly likely that she'll make any changes to her relationship with her H ever, and if you won't be in the same room as him, then it seems to be her choice to go with him.
She's right about it being none of your business what happens between them privately, but you were actually involved because you had to listen to it, and were seriously inconvenienced. Your friend could have told her husband that you'd come a long way, and her arrangements had to go ahead.
I had a permanent break with a good friend, who we always invited to spend major holidays with us because her son and DIL would make plans that didn't include her. After we'd quarrelled, her son had to step up or she would have spent Christmas etc on her own. Point being that without you there her slob husband might actually be forced to look after your friend properly.
It's sad for you though, and I sympathise, knowing what it's like to distance yourself from a good friend. You might be able to keep up contact with phone calls to check on her welfare, but don't let them mess you around either.
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Old 04-27-2015, 09:55 PM
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Check out that old thread post #2 by ICU

How To Support An Abused Woman
(Sorry to hijack, but I thought I had begun a new thread when I began typing this....too late now)

Earthworm, thought this might be interesting for you to read:

The following are some tips from the book by Lundy Bancroft called Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. There's a section devoted to "Dealing with your own frustrations" and "What if She Doesn't Believe She is Being Abused?" that are also very helpful. Personally, I recommend buying or borrowing the book from the library. It's an eye-opening read. On to the book......

If you would like to make a significant difference in the life of an abused woman you care about, keep the following principle fresh in your mind..."Your goal is to be the complete opposite of what the abuser is".

The Abuser: Pressures her severely

So You Should: Be patient. Remember that it takes time for an abused woman to sort out her confusion and figure out how to handle her situation. It is not helpful for her to try to follow 'your' timetable for when she should stand up to her partner, leave him, call the police, or whatever step you want her to take. You need to respect her judgement regarding when she is ready to take action - something the abuser never does.

The Abuser: Talks down to her

So you Should: Address her as an equal. Avoid all traces of condescension or superior knowledge in your voice. This caution applies just as much or more to professionals. If you speak to an abused woman as if you are smarter or wiser than she is, or as if she is going through something that could never happen to you, then you inadvertently confirm exactly what the abuser has been telling her, which is that she is beneath him. Remember, your actions speak louder than your words.

The Abuser: Thinks he knows what is good for her better than she does

So You Should: Treat her as the expert on her own life. Don't assume that you know what she needs to do. I have sometimes given abused women suggestions that I thought were exactly right but turned out to be terrible for that particular situation. Ask her what she thinks might work and, without pressuring her, offer suggestions, respecting her explanations for why certain courses of action would not be helpful. Don't tell her what to do.

The Abuser: Dominates conversations

So You Should: Listen more and talk less. The temptation may be great to convince her what a 'jerk' he is, to analyze his motives, to give speeches covering entire chapters of this book. But talking too much inadvertently communicates to her that your thoughts are more important than hers, which is exactly how the abuser treats her. If you want her to value her own feelings and opinions, then you have to show her that you value them.

The Abuser: Believes he has the right to control her life

So You Should: Respect her right to self-determination. She is entitled to make decisions that are not exactly what you would choose, including the decision to stay with her abusive partner or to return to him after a separation. You can't convince a woman that her life belongs to her if you are simultaneously acting like it belongs to you. Stay by her even when she makes choices that you don't like.

The Abuser: Assumes he understands her children and their needs better than she does

So You Should: Assume that she is a competent, caring mother. Remember that there is no simple way to determine what is best for the children of an abused woman. Even if she leaves the abuser, the children's problems are not necessarily over, and sometimes abusers actually create worse difficulties for the children postseparation than before. You cannot help her to find the best path for her children unless you have a realistic grasp of the complicated set of choices that face her.

The Abuser: Thinks for her

So You Should: Think with her. Don't assume the role of teacher or rescuer. Instead, join forces with her as a respectful and equal team member.

Notice that being the opposite of the abuser does not simply mean saying the opposite of what he says. If he beseeches her with, "Don't leave me, don't leave me," and you stand on the other side badgering her with, "Leave him, leave him," she will feel that you're much like him; you are both pressuring her to accept your judgement of what she should do. Neither of you is asking the empowering question, "What do you want to do?"

Note from me: I'm not sure that I understand or agree with everything that is written here (like the part about the children...maybe because I don't have any), but perhaps others will get a different spin on it than I did. I always try to encourage that they contact a DV agency for the best possible support since they are trained to do that and I'm not.

And finally, please forgive the typos as I'm spell-check challenged!
What I have shared in this or any post are my opinions, based on my perception and experiences.
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Old 04-28-2015, 07:04 AM
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Oh, that's so sad. What a horrible way for your friend to live, she must be so beat down. All you can do is love her from afar. Tell her you're there for her if she ever needs your love or support -- but keep your boundaries about her monster of a husband. You may be all she's got.
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Old 04-28-2015, 10:19 AM
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I'm so sorry. I have a friend that is FINALLY exiting a very very bad and physically abusive relationship. She used to call often, to tell me that things were "bad." I would try to push her into getting out - yeah, codie all over the place.

Finally, and in part due to SR, I set unspoken boundaries.
I decided that if I ever even hear about an instance of abuse, I will call the police and child services (CPS has been called before - they are SUPER helpful *sarcasm* - the kids have been in this situation for 7 years now....) She quit calling me after realizing I was OVER IT.

I reached out to her a few times over the years "when you are ready to go, I will move heaven and earth to help you do it." She is finally ready - I think - we are moving her this weekend, protective order is in place. I hope your friend gets to that place SOON.

My only advice is to keep doing what you are doing. Support and love from a distance. You don't have to be any where near that D-bag. You could remind her that you are there - and will do anything you can when she is ready to have a better life for herself.

Sorry - it just sucks watching your friend let someone hurt them.
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Old 04-28-2015, 04:49 PM
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I'm so sorry, NYCDoglvr. I was in your friend's position; my sister in yours. Neither side is easy. I know my sister stepped back when I went back to AXH the last time. Like others mentioned here, she'd touch bases once in a while to see how I was doing. She'd gently remind me that I had options. And in the little ways she could, she'd remind me that I deserved to be happy.

Like, if while we were talking I mentioned that I was confused by him not being happy that I'd gotten a promotion (the reality that I didn't tell her was that he had screamed at me about how I thought I was so much better than him, it was still JUST an office job that any stupid girl could do, that I was so dumb) she'd tell me we need to do a girl's lunch to celebrate such a great accomplishment and make plans to meet me on a work day for lunch.

I don't know if she had seen information similar to Carlotta's post, but she pretty much followed the how to be supportive line. I know it wasn't easy on her. And I know that's why she tended to restrict her visits to days when she knew AXH was working, or to days where we'd plan her swinging by and I'd head out the door with DS as soon as she pulled in the drive. To be completely honest, it was easier on my side that way, too. I caught less flack from AXH if he didn't see her or my family or friends.

I don't know if it will help clarify your friend's side any, but I wasn't letting AXH hurt me. It all started out so small, but the end result was a crushed sense of self-worth and self-confidence. I didn't know marriage could be different. SHOULD be different. I thought I was mis-communicating with him. I believed his apologies and words of love. I thought he loved me, and while some of his actions were hurtful, some of his actions seemed loving and he would either show remorse after "he was angry" or convinced me I mis-understood. I thought that if I found the right words, I could explain to him what the relationship was like from my side and since he loved me, he would change. IDK. I know that none of that made it any easier on my sister watching me fade into a shadow of myself.
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