Friday, June 6, 2008

I nearly lost a friend once

Many years ago I called the home of a very dear friend who lived in the US. His wife answered and told me he wasn't home. I wasn't all that fond of his wife, they had a very difficult relationship and I blamed her for it. I had known my friend for over a decade by then and after that many years of close friendship I knew him nearly as well as I knew myself - I knew his thoughts, his dreams, his disappointments, and yes, his marriage troubles, which were many. Still, as his friend I felt obligated to be polite to his wife and steeled myself for a few minutes of inane chitchat.

I got my world ripped apart instead. After a minute or two of polite how are you's I asked how things were going with my friend, more to make conversation than an honest desire to know. She responded by suddenly swearing me to secrecy and telling me that he had hit her. More than once. And that I couldn't say anything. To remember that I'd promised her I wouldn't. I suddenly couldn't breathe, it was as if all the air had suddenly been sucked out of the universe. This couldn't be happening. This man, my friend, would never. Could never. It was unfathomable. He'd always been a protector to me, how could he ever hurt someone? I felt utterly betrayed. It couldn't have hurt me worse if I'd been the one to he'd hit.

I was so angry. I have never been that angry in my life. It was as if he'd ripped apart the very fabric of my soul. I wanted to rip his heart out with my bare hands, but I had promised to keep this devastating secret and I was afraid of what might happen to his wife if he found out she had told me.

I kept the secret, not telling a soul. It took everything I had, but I had promised and I kept that promise. I paid a heavy price though. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, smoked way too much, fought with my own husband. It affected every aspect of my life. Everywhere I looked I saw only black despair. Week after week I held my ground and refused to answer my friend's repeated calls.

One night my husband and I were in the grocery store. I picked a fight over something stupid. My husband stopped and told me enough was enough. Whatever was weighing on my mind that was causing me to act this way, it had to come out. Now. No more hiding, no more pretending that everything was alright. And come out it did, right there in the middle of the grocery store. Before I had gotten two words out I was sobbing hysterically. When I finally calmed down enough to get the words out he asked me why I hadn't just confronted my friend. I explained that I had sworn I wouldn't. Jay got angry. How could I throw away over ten years of love and friendship without giving him so much as a chance to defend himself. After holding out for another hour or two I finally agreed to speak to my friend.

With a sick feeling in my stomach I placed the call. He was so happy to finally hear from me, and so hurt that I'd been rejecting him. I heard that and exploded. I let four months of pain and hurt and anger come flying out of my mouth almost of their own volition.

And through the phone line I heard a hurt which mirrored my own. In keeping silent, in becoming the judge and jury in this conviction without trial I had committed a betrayal of my own. A terrible betrayal.

Despite everything I knew about his wife and her history, it truly never occurred to me that she had lied just to drive a wedge between us, to remove me from the picture, and yet she had. She had lied and I had believed her.

It took years for our friendship to truly recover and only newer and more twisted examples of his wife's instability finally made it clear to both of us how this had happened, and how close we had come to losing each other. Another eight years later and they are enmeshed in a bitterly acrimonious divorce with no end in sight.

She nearly cost him his best friend, and she did cost him his dreams and his innocence. That pales in comparison to what she is doing now. I only pray she won't cost him his son as well.

The Writers Island prompt for this week was reconciliation.

21 comments:

Tammy said...

Robin, what a spot to be in as a woman and friend. I'm glad you called him and he has you to lean on. As for her I can think of many words but I'll be polite and just say "karma."

angie said...

Robin. I don't know what to say. This post is incredible....both for it's insights and your writing, which sucked me right in. Shame on the woman. It's amazing to me that some people sink to such lows.

Raven said...

Powerful post. It's good that your husband had the wisdom to force you open up. This man's wife sounds like one of those really twisted psychopaths who know with some awful intuitive instinct how most to hurt others while portraying themselves as victims. I'm glad that you and your friend have healed your relationship. It sounds like he needs his friends more now than ever.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Whoa. What a bitch.

For the record, I'd have believed her, too. But I don't think I'd have kept as quiet as you did; moral outrage tends to make me... ummm. Loud and indignant. *blush*

Stan Ski said...

Possessiveness, jealousy, deceit. There can only be one outcome.

Laura said...

Your writing was so compelling. It totally drew me in. I Could feel your pain and the hurt. I am so glad you reconciled. So sad that the world has people like this out there. Great post!

anthonynorth said...

A compelling story. And even if you'd had the foresight to NOT believe her, there would still have been that 'what if?'
The deceits that are woven by some people are terrible.

WherestheBox said...

What a sad story. We are in a similar situation with my husband's best friend since junior high school, we have been completely cut off with no explanation and no opportunity to discuss anything.

Worst part is, my son called them Aunt and Uncle and it is hurting all of us so much, but we can't do anything about it.

quilly said...

Very powerful writing. You have done a great job of sharing your grief and pain. I am glad you were able to heal your friendship. I am praying for your friend with you.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Oh, that is so sad! It's amazing what people can say instead of just speaking the truth! Terrible.

Good for you for finally letting it out, and good for your husband for knowing what to do with it.

rebecca said...

the moment you said he hit her, i didn't believe her. you were a threat to her and so she, very cunningly, took care of it the best way she knew how. all i kept saying as i continued reading was - "i hope robin called him, i hope robin called him." and you did, and i'm glad things are well with the two of you again.

i'm sometimes left speechless by the lows some women go to....ugh!

Genny said...

What a powerful story. And what a tough spot to be in.

planetnomad said...

Oh, I actually saw that coming. I wondered why she would "open up" to you when she viewed you as an enemy, and I was suspicious at the secrecy.
(Not blaming you; you foreshadowed a bit)
So sorry. Hope all goes well for your friend.

gautami tripathy said...

I know certain people who do their best to drive wedges between others. One such woman exists in my own family. She almost destroyed my relationship with my brother.

God, that hurt.

I am very glad you shared this with us.

witchcraft

This Eclectic Life said...

Oh, my friend, you did it again. You pulled at my heartstrings and brought me to tears. What a painful life lesson. Thank you for sharing it. I'm so glad that Jay, as Raven said, had the wisdom to make you confront your friend.

Shannon said...

What a great piece of writing though I am so sorry for the circumstances. To be in that horrible position must have been unbearable. I am glad that you did not lose your friend. That would have been yet another terrible tragedy. He is lucky to at least have you.

Rambler said...

may be you did right, at anypoint I cannot stand physical abuse, and when it comes from a women one cannot simple ignore, but yes as you said one should have given him a chance once to explain, but again its too hard to think she would be lying

Phyllis Sommer said...

what an incredibly powerful story. i was in tears for you....

Christine said...

Oh, my Robin. How awful. Your poor friend.

And what a malicious thing for that woman to do. I'm glad it ultimately backfired on her.

I voted for you over at http://tinyurl.com/6xayns . Brainiest blogger. You rock that thinkin' thing!

Robin said...

Awww, thank you Christine. I'm not very good at the whole tooting my own horn thing and didn't publicize it here so I'm thrilled that I'm not languishing in last place with a permanent goose egg next to my name! (I have no idea how the voting is going, but a few people have mentioned it so I can at least be confident that I've got more than zero LOL.)

Lea said...

This is such a powerful story... for me it shows how easily the world can tilt... so glad for your voice, your heart, and the trust of your husband, you in him, and him in you...