I wrote before of my friends, we’ll call them Joe and Barb. They were married in May of 2000. He was 30. She was 24. I don’t have to do the math for you. It’s been a long marriage and moderately successful. Long story short, she became very controlling of him, dictatorially so. She grew cold within the first five years of marriage and turned their life into a business arrangement. She cut him off from friends and outside influences as most-to-all abusers do. Then she became verbally abusive.
He finally got fed up and manned-up and told her to get into counselling or he was leaving. If he were a woman we would all be cheering him on for finally taking control of his life and being proactive for his own happiness. And it is for that reason I must say I am proud of him. A broken marriage that is not fixable, cripples a person. And he is splintered everywhere.
Tonight was hard for me. I cried for him. And I am so very furious with her. Today she went too far and passed the brink of repairing the relationship.
Let me back up. I saw them just a bit over a week ago, 9 days ago, I believe. You see I recently moved myself back to Washington, but needed Joe’s help tightening the belts on my car so I could make it safely and without loud squealing noises following me everywhere. Also, we needed to have our goodbyes. I had a very nice time visiting with her while he repaired my car and added fluids. She had her first glass of wine (I didn’t imbibe that night.) She tried to talk to me about their problems, but I told her that it made me uncomfortable and that I didn’t want to be giving advice. I just wanted them both to be happy (in whatever life had in store). That I was his friend and it just didn’t feel right to me having her try to confide in me. She respected my speaking up and telling her so. She told me of the things she was doing to improve herself. That night it sounded like she was finally starting to get it. It sounded like her counselling was actually making a difference and she was willing to accept and take responsibility for her controlling and verbally abusive behavior. I felt an internal sigh of relief and it made my leaving so much easier.
She was probably on her second glass of wine when dinner was served. I don’t know; I wasn’t counting. They have red wine every night. Because I wasn’t drinking I observed them in a way I hadn’t before. Right there at the dinner table things started going south. I’m not sure how or why but the mood changed from fun to uncomfortable to painful. At one point I suggested I go. They both said no, I should stay. And so I stayed. And I watched as their behavior toward one another changed. It was hard. She tries to keep up with him glass for glass. But she doesn’t metabolize the wine like he does. She would say things to him that weren’t necessarily meant to be hurtful, but would come across that way. I would try and keep things from going that way, saying, “I think what she is trying to say is…” I just wanted it to stop escalating. But I couldn’t stop her. I told her that he heard her. That he understands what she is trying to say. But by that point she was too drunk to keep herself in check. And as her words become more critical, more biting, and more hurtful I became increasing uncomfortable. I felt helpless to the train wreck I could see coming.
He never raised his voice or lost his calm. He didn’t snap back at her or return cruel jabs. He squirmed in his seat with discomfort as he tried to talk her down, reason with her. Eventually, he excused himself. He gave me a hug goodbye, and I could feel him trembling in my arms as he whispered to me, “That was bad.” All I could do for my friend was whisper back, “I know. I’m sorry.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. He went to shower and secure himself in the guest room. She walked me to the car.
At the car she totally lost it emotionally. Weeping and crying and feeling sorry for herself beyond what was necessary. Even throughout her behavior at the table he remained calm and collected, shifting uncomfortably in his seat, trying to speak to her rationally. Asking her to stop. Asking her to respect his experience and expertise. He played the defender to her aggressor. And she felt sorry for herself? I reminded her again, at the car, that I didn’t want to be put in the middle. Again, she said she respected that and appreciated my honesty about that. She understands that 31 years of friendship with him trumps my one year of friendship with her. She knows I don’t want to choose. She knows I want to remain friends no matter what happens with this marriage. Despite that she couldn’t quit crying and I couldn’t just stand there and let her cry. So I gave in to my compassion and gave her the best advice I could. I spent probably 45 minutes standing out in the cold with her.
I told her that she needed to not drink as much as he does, and why. I told her that he needs her to be soft and gentle, a woman. That she needs to allow him to be a man. She needs to trust in him to know how best to do things that are in his expertise and wheelhouse. She needs to not police him. (Yes, she’s in law enforcement and he feels like a prisoner.) She says, “But I have to protect him.” She doesn’t understand that he is a 46-year-old, 6’2″ intelligent man with a black belt in jiu jitsu (could be some other martial art, I don’t recall. Point is, he’s a master). She needs to understand that her behavior and words strike at his manhood. She is being disrespectful to a man who is kind and helpful and tries to please her despite all the garbage she throws his way. But apparently she didn’t take my words to heart or perhaps she was too wasted to remember them because today she crossed the line.
Mind you, the evidence is all circumstantial but with things I know about her, I’d say she is totally capable of being the bitch that would do this. And I know her accomplice, and she is just plain evil.
11:00 a.m. Barb sends Joe a text while he’s at work. “What will you do if you lose your job?” He doesn’t respond. She texts again ten minutes later, “You won’t be able to depend on me, once you leave, will you?”
1:00 p.m. Joe gets a call to meet with his boss. He is fired on the spot. The reason given, “They received accusations against him by a woman.” No name given. No further information provided.
3:00 p.m. Barb’s best friend posts a meme on a private Facebook group, that I happen to be a member of, tagging only Barb. I see it. I find it suspicious and curious. But then I forget about it because I don’t know what has happened earlier in the day.
This is the meme:
He comes home and she goes out to dinner with another girlfriend. He is devastated that she’d be so cruel. To ruin this job which (yes, gave him the confidence and financial means to leave her) and sully his reputation in the process. He feels lost and confused, sick to his stomach with agony. He doesn’t understand her need to control him or the idea of a human being as a possession. He is a good man. She was blessed to have such a man. Me, I cried. I cried as he told me all about his day. And then, when we were done talking, I cried some more. I felt his pain.
As I said, I have the misfortune of knowing this new “best friend” and she is pure evil. She’s known Barb for less time than I have known her and I warned him, as did others, that she would be a bad influence on her. I think she was the woman who made the accusation. I think it was a plan dreamt up over cocktails and Barb may have even agreed to it thinking it was a joke. Unfortunately, she did “like” the meme, so maybe she knew it all along. The coincidence and timing of everything is just way too suspicious. Or maybe she dreamt it up herself in the hopes it would force him to stay in the relationship (though I don’t think the supposed friend would be at all interested in helping with that.)
I begged Joe to go to a hotel or a friend’s house for tonight at least. I fear for both of their safety. When she was hysterical by my car the idea got stuck in my head that she could, if drunk and pushed beyond hope, kill him and then herself, Brynn Hartman style. When we had finished up our conversation he was going to shower and meditate, and then if he couldn’t reground himself he’d leave for the night. That’s what he told me. I think perhaps he thinks I am more worried about what he might do to her. But really, it’s either of them. He’s not violent. He is a very gentle person. But she is controlling and when drunk, she cannot control her behavior. I don’t trust her now. Not at all. Not after today.
By the time this posts, it will be tomorrow. He has promised to check in with me. I will likely sleep poorly tonight. My prayers are that God is in that house tonight. And that he will hear if God tells him to go. That she will hear if He whispers for her to stop. That tonight Barb will leave Joe alone and give him space, and that things do not escalate further.
(Update: both are still living and breathing and no one is in jail.) Whew! My domestic violence history takes me there as an option, always. Feeling grateful, Lord, for your watching over them at this time of crisis.