It's not for the faint of heart.

Welcome to my slightly silly, often odd, and mostly messy life.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coffee, Cake, and Clarity...

Okay, it was actually Coffee, PIE and Clarity - but I just dig repetitive sounds so there ya go!

I met with Ethel on Friday night for some coffee and pie and conversation.  I'm trying hard to be a good friend to both her and Fred, her Mister, but it's a tenuous place to be at.  It's also really hard for me to understand all the dynamics of what's going on. I also just don't do the "lie to make you feel better" kind of thing. It's just not me.  If you ask for my input you'll get it.  Not to be cruel - I just don't think real friends lie to each other, even if it's something you don't really want to hear. 

Ethel found out that Fred is, once again...or perhaps better described as STILL, telling lies and doing shady things behind her back.  He always has an excuse.  He always denies and deflects, and hides what's really going on - and in the past it's always worked.  For whatever reason Ethel decided she wanted to salvage her marriage.  She forgave. She overlooked the obvious. She made excuses to herself and others. She went to counseling. She bought self help books.  She allowed herself to be bullied. She prayed, and cried, and wrote about her feelings on her blog.

So now we are - once again at a Cafe late in the evening while I hear Ethel say that she knows her marriage is sick and she doesn't have it in her to fight anymore.  She's doesn't care enough to keep hurting, and she wants to get a separation.  But it's still there... this guilt, this co-dependence that makes her want to please him, to tell him that they might be able to work it out with space and time.  Just hearing her say, "I just don't know what I want.  Maybe in a year or two I would be willing to let him back into my life but I doubt it."  is kind of horrifying to be honest.  How in the hell can you consider letting someone who treats you like this have any part in your life?  How do you not hate, with every breath, someone who has cheated on you, lied to you, emotionally abused you, physically intimidated you, made you doubt your value and your appeal?  How do you still have room in your heart for that person?  It sounds warped to me. I want to be a good friend and I want to be supportive, but I'm just not able to comprehend it on any level.  Those are not behaviors you would accept from a co-worker, casual friend, or distant relative...but you'll accept it from the person that stood before family, friends, and god and promised to love, cherish, and honor you?  What??? 

I want her to know her value.  I want both of them to be emotionally healthy and supportive, and to be good examples to their kids.  I want happiness for both of them.  I just have NO faith that they can do that together as a couple.  Whatever his issues are, plus whatever her issues are equal one giant dysfunctional mess.

I'm worried.  I've actually been up several nights worrying about her safety - physical and emotional.  Mr Fred declares that he finally understands how she feels.  Now he wants to work on their marriage.  Now that Ethel told him he has to move out in two weeks, and now that she isn't crying anymore, or telling him she wants to work on this... NOW he decides he can't do this alone.  He's in desperation mode.  Desperate people do unpredictable things.  He refuses to believe it's too late.  He can't see that he's caused so much damage.  I've tried explaining this - as kindly as possible, while being totally honest with him.  But he doesn't hear it yet.  He's not at that place yet, and he might not be for a really long time. 

That leaves Ethel and Fred stuck in the same house together until they have the money for him to move out.  That means that Ethel is under constant stress and pressure from Fred to "try again".  That means that there is a very good chance (looking at their history together) that Ethel will give in to her co-dependency and let Fred stay.  I honestly think it's 50/50 as to whether or not she'll really make him move out, much less follow through with a separation and not let him beg his way back into the house in a short period of time.   They've ridden this twisted little carousel ride before and she didn't follow through - and here they are again.

I wish life weren't so confusing and messy.  I wish I had the ability to make this easier on all of them - especially their kids.  It has to be confusing to have dad move out, come right back, have all this stress in the house, then move back out again....  It's hard on all of them and I'm pretty much powerless to make it any better.

This whole thing just sucks ass.


  1. I've witnessed a relationship like this before as well. It took them 10 years before they finally split up. They're just now splitting up, actually. The back and forth. The up and down. The move in, move out. It aged them both terribly and took a horrible toll on their children. They both regret it now, but it's probably too late for even regret. I hope Ethel and Fred figure it out sooner than my friend did.

  2. I do too. Not to punish anyone, but so that everyone can move on and find happiness.

  3. How much of Ethel's difficulty in cutting the cord is wrapped up in her belief that Fred's issues and the difficulties in their marriage are a reflection on her?

    You're right about the powerlessness too. You're a good friend for her - being there for her to talk things through with is as much help as anyone can give.

  4. Have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome? (google it)

    I really believe people get used to being treated a certain way and cannot imagine anything differently could ever feel normal. Yes, it is a co-dependency thing but also very psychological as well.

    Sending prayers for all involved.

  5. I wish I could show you my text messages from my "Ethel." I love her dearly but she can't seem to leave "Fred" for good. I don't know what else to say to help her. I've even suggested a restraining order, but she keeps going back. And it doesn't matter what their background is; my "Ethel" is very educated. I pray for all "Ethels" and hope the "Freds" get the help they need.