I have egg on my face but I wish I didn’t. I’ve been going on about how great it is that my sister saw the light and kicked out her abusive, no-good husband. How she’s ready to start afresh and break this cycle of abuse and dependency she’s found herself in. How she’s realised she doesn’t need a man to make her happy. Looks like I was wasting my breath because the spawn of the devil incarnate is back.
Actually, he never left. That whole song and dance about her kicking him out a couple of weeks ago was just a smoke screen. She was just telling us what she thought we wanted to hear.
I was really happy all day today. I had a good night out last night with people I count as really good friends, creative, enthusiastic people who inspired me so much that when I got home I stayed up and wrote until three in the morning.
I had a good day at work. I was told that I was an invaluable part of the company. Me, invaluable, to Cruella De Ville and her sidekick husband? I felt like asking if I could get that in writing. Preferably signed in blood.
When I got home I knew something was up when I saw that my Mum had left me five messages. I immediately thought something had happened to my Dad and was cross that my Mum hadn’t called me on my mobile. (She hates calling people on their mobiles and always worries she’ll call when someone is sitting on the toilet.)
But I digress –
Mum told me the bad news this evening. My sister and her ex are back together and want to try again. I couldn’t believe it. A thousand cliches hit me at once when I heard the news. You could have knocked me over with a feather. It hit me like a ton of bricks, a bolt out of the blue, a sledgehammer, a lightning strike. I was quite literally (and in true Aussie style) a stunned mullet.
OK, so I know I’m being a little facetious right now but I’m struggling. I feel like I’m trying to wash a sink full of dishes and no matter what I do the washing-up liquid won’t froth and the dishcloth won’t wipe the plates clean. I am in one of the lower circles of Hell where I have been sentenced to an eternity as a cleaner washing the dirty dishes of the entire world. And it sucks.
I’ve been spending the evening reading about battered wife syndrome and it makes for sobering reading.
My sister is stuck in that cycle now and I am afraid she might not make it out alive. I’m afraid that giving someone too many second chances makes him unable to modify his behaviour, makes him answerable to no one. I’m afraid that getting into the habit of making a hundred and one excuses for behaviour that is at worst, horrifying, and at best, unacceptable, allows a view of reality to be created that leads you to think that is all there is. That is all you should expect.
Most of all, I am afraid my mother is not going to live through it. ‘It’s so hard to stand back and watch someone hurt your child, your baby,’ she said today. ‘I don’t think I can stand it any more.’
I don’t think I can stand it any more, either. I don’t want to face that it is happening – that my jolly, little sister who used to dream of being one of the kids in the Von Trapp family – may have to endure further beatings from a man she claims to not be able to live without. I keep waiting for that moment when you are having a nightmare that is particularly gruesome and you wake with a flood of relief as you realise the whole thing was just a bad dream; but the moment never comes.
If I were a poker player right now I would fold. The stakes are too high for me. But I can’t. I can’t just leave the game can I?
How bad does it have to get before you walk away? I ranted on the phone to my sister just an hour ago. How bad does it have to get?
She hung up on me and when I called back the phone was off the hook. Perhaps this is how it’s going to be from now on, our days full of conversations we will never have. I wish I had inhaled her voice when I could, just in case it’s years before I hear it again.
The moon is full and low in the sky. The light it casts is creamy. My skin is silver by moonlight. I am awash with the magical glow of it. I wonder if my sister sees that moon, and if on some level she senses I am also gazing up at its brilliance. And I wonder if it affords her some comfort.
It’s so hard, speaking from experience, to watch people get stuck in cycles of abusive behaviour. So hard. I hope she find the help she needs. Make sure she knows your door is always open. (Even if she doesn’t hear it right now.)
You haven’t got egg on your face … you reported the facts as you saw them.
But, what to do now? I know how you must feel; (if I may be crude for a moment) like a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest!
Like I’ve said before so many times … just be there when she needs you. That’s all you can do.
I haven’t wanted to say anything until now, and I may wish I hadn’t said anything later on, but here goes…My in-laws are dealing with a similar situation with their oldest “C” (LOTM’s older sister). When C’s second husband died, she spent three days after his funeral mourning him, then she was back on the dating scene looking for a husband.
She found one, a truly despicable specimine who threatened my in-laws in their own home and made them feel unsafe.
Of course, she married him, because she can’t handle being alone.
Four years later, C’s still bemoaning the fact that he’s abusive, but she refuses to leave. My in-laws have finally realized she likes being the victim because of the attention it affords her.
I’m not saying this is the case with your sister, there are other issues at work there. I’m just saying I understand that helpless place you’re in right now. But C’s not my sister, so I don’t have that deep connection that you have with yours. Plus, you’re a lot nicer than I am… I’ve turned my back on C and I’m supporting the family instead; they need me more than she does.
Sorry about the blog post in your comments.
Do you remember this post babe?
My heart – still – goes out to you.
O, honey. I’m so sorry. You and your mother and family deserve some peace. Lighting a candle for you…
Just curious, but does your sister have children or a lack of finances that is helping to keep her with him?
I stayed with my ex far longer than I should have, ignoring what family and friends said to me. He was physically abusive only a handful of times (which one time should be too many), but emotionally and psychologically abusive most of the time. There were times I thought of leaving, but how could I? I had two small children. I didn’t have a job or any work experience to speak of. I didn’t want to be a burden on my parents. I felt trapped. Eventually I did leave, but won’t get into that here.
Anyhoo, does your sister have any other reasons (besides the BS one that she can’t live without him) that are making she think she can’t live without him?
P.S. Thinking of and praying for both of you.
If this is any consolation dear Selma, repeat to yourself again and again…this is NOT your fault in any way, shape or form and your sister is an adult who can decide to do whatever she wants.
I know personally (believe me!) how incredibly hard it is to watch loved ones on a path of destruction and being almost powerless to stop them or even make them listen. The only thing that worked in my case was to finally say NO! When it was me they always expected to ‘make things right again’ I finally said NO, I have other things to do and I’m not going down that road again.
The reaction was amazing and I was so proud for not getting sucked into the mess again when no one wanted to change.
Perhaps, perhaps your sister will only change, see the light IF she is made to be accountable for her own actions without the safety net being always at the ready. Perhaps this sounds harsh but what else is there to try?
I really feel for all of you and I do feel sorry for your sister but it’s time to take another approach if this is every going to change. You have no egg on your face but you do have a beautiful heart inside.
It’s amazing how deeply addicted we become to each other. It’s nice to think of romantic relationships as wonderful things but they also become very deep physical, emotional and financial dependencies. I think your question – how bad does it have to get before you leave – cuts to the core and is one I find myself asking as well. For some there is no answer.
I am so sorry for you all Selma but it is time to get up and leave the game,and take your poor Mum with you.Try and give your Sister,empathy but not sympathy or you will suffer more than she does.I am sure there is “Someone” standing by her that will help her to help herself.
Isn’t it amazing how your decision to love and care for someone can sometimes demand a high price? Often, I wonder if I’m just too poor to love. Or maybe, too cheap.
I, too, learn from your experience, my friend. Don’t give up… even through the lies.
I wish I had something reassuring to say. I really do.
As it has been suggested by others, the time may come when you are going to have to let go.
I am curious as to what issues may keep her with him, other than the emotional dependency. Like Emp. 3699 I ask: are there children or lack of financial independence involved? It is much harder to leave when you can’t support yourself or when kids are involved.
Selma, I am so sorry…and when you say how bad does it have to get, sadly usually pretty bad and even then sometimes its not enough. I know you want to do all you can for your sister and its hard to just watch her go through this. But for your own sanity like others have mentioned you may have to let go… My thoughts are with you
Oh Selma. That stinks. This is awful news. I cant imagine how upsetting it must be for you to have to sit sideline and idle as a witness to this abuse.
I am so sorry that your sister isn’t ready to let go and move on to a new life.
All you can do is pray for the best, and be prepared for the worst. Which sucks.
“How bad does it have to get?”
I guess she has to hit her Rock Bottom. And only she will know when that is.
HUGS TO YOU.
NAT – it’s just hard to know what to do for the best, you know? But yes, my door is always open. She does know that and I hope she’ll remember it when things get bad. But as for me – I have to step back because it’s really beginning to depress me. Thanks for the hug. I needed that.
TRAVELRAT – oh, you always cheer me up. I have visions of that one-legged man trying his best to win that contest. Classic.
KAREN – our situations are so similar. My sister has a history of engaging in attention-seeking behaviour and many of the family believe part of her enjoys the high drama of this relationship. I am so sorry you have had to go through something similar. You made such a pertinent point that I am really grateful for – you are supporting the family now. That’s what I’m going to do – just offer emotional support to my parents. Anything else is too much right now. Thank you for letting me know about this, it has really helped.
BRITT – oh, I remember that post well. It is so full of wisdom.I am going to go and read it again and follow your advice. Thank you for caring – it means a lot.
HEATHER – it would be nice to get a little bit of peace. We are working on it. That candle is very welcome.
LINDA – you are so intuitive. My sister has a few issues that are making her stay with him (although no children, thank God!) She is extremely overweight and has a lot of self-image issues associated with that. This is the first man who has looked at her in years and I think she feels if she lets him go she will never get a man again. She was married before and had to sell her house as a result of the divorce settlement (joint asset) and since then has been obsessed with owning her own home. Her husband owns his own home outright and has about half a million dollars worth of investments as a result of compensation he received due to an accident. I think this is the major thing driving her decision to stay with him. I am fairly certain she wouldn’t have put up with any of this crap if not for the house and the money. I feel awful writing that, but sadly, it’s the truth. I am sorry you had to go through what you did but am glad you got through it. I really value your input.
GERALDINE – I know it’s not my fault but as the big sister I feel I should fix things. I am going to say NO from now on. In fact, I am going to shout it. The thought of it actually makes me feel better.
RWHACKMAN – it definitely is one of the world’s great rhetorical questions, isn’t it? ‘How bad does it have to get?’ Love is an addiction for many people, for sure. And often not in a good way.
DIAMONDS – brilliant advice: empathy not sympathy. I am definitely out of this game. I certainly can’t win it. Thank you. XX
CHRIS – there is nothing cheap about you, my friend – you have true richness of spirit. I won’t give up, I have too much to remain hopeful for. I appreciate your support during all of this.
INGRID – I think that time is today. I need to step away from this for my own peace of mind. As I mentioned to Employee 3699 it does seem to be all about the money. It’s hard to believe.
TBALL – it’s time to step away. Let me know how you are. I’ve been worried. XX
MELEAH – it sure does suck. But I feel like I’m going to be OK. The flipside to this is that it has gotten bad enough for me now so I am forced to walk away for my own self-preservation. It sounds awful to say it, but in a way it’s a bit of a relief. You can only take so much, you know?
Dearest Selma, I honestly don’t know what to say. I also liked Karen’s point – I think your dear parents will so appreciate receiving the energy that, until this point, has mostly seeped into the black hole of fighting for your sister. I’m still hoping for you all.
Oh Selma, I simply can’t imagine what you’re going through.
I have no advice, just a deep desire that you find a way to help her and, at the same time, protect yourself and your family from further heartbreak.
that’s really bad news, but I hope she can work through it and it is she who needs to do that. It must be putting huge strains on everyone in the family
DAOINE – that means a lot, my dear. I can’t tell you how much. You are the best!
ANGRY – how nice to hear from you. Thank you for your concern. I really appreciate it.
CRAFTY GREEN – we are all feeling a little tense. I am hoping she sees sense in the end. I remain hopeful too.
good. I am glad that YOU are smart enough to walk away.
MELEAH – I have to. I really think if I don’t I’m going to crack up. It’s not healthy really to feel so stressed. I almost feel cruel saying it but my sister has to sort this out for herself. Thanks for your support.
I was going to say – before reading some of the other comments – that perhaps you should consider walking away. I know its an unbelievably difficult thing to do, but its so true that she is the only one who can make a significant change. And it won’t happen until she reaches rock bottom. Gosh, this is so tough for you and your family, I know. You’re making the right call all the way around. She knows you love her. That’s the most important thing.
having only ever experienced this from your sisters perspective, i know it isn’t over till its over,, (and even then, it never really dies)and nothing you say or do or wish or pray for will make one iota of difference.. it will either explode or burn out, of its own accord,, and the better off you will be if you allowed yourself a relationship with your sister outside of her relationship with her ex… it is the only way selma,, acceptance,, overlooking,, but acceptance none the less..
I don’t what I can add that the others haven’t already said. I do know how it feels, because even if she isn’t family, my friend is going through the same thing. She just refuses to believe that the scumbag she is married to will never change and he is a drug addict & criminal to boot. It has taken a lot out of me but I had to let go and give her space. I still talk to her when she wants me to but I have let her know that everything is her decision.
And its not egg on ur face sweetie. U r an angel as far as I am concerned.
HOLLY – I try to take comfort in the fact that she knows I love her, but it is really tough to leave her to it. I know you understand how hard it is. Thanks for your help and support.
PAISLEY – I completely agree with you. My Mum and I were talking about this today and decided we would continue to see her on a regular basis but without the husband. It’s just too stressful to be in the same room with him. And you’re right, it is acceptance and it is necessary.
ROSHAN -awww, you are going to make me cry. You are such a lovely person. I’m so sorry you’re going through that with your friend. I know how hard it is. Take care of yourself.
First of all Selma I’m sorry I wasn’t here earlier for this and to add my voice of support.
Having survived an abusive relationship myself I know all about the lying and the covering up and the protection of him…Insane isn’t it? It’s hard to understand from the outside looking in and I managed to hide it from EVERYONE so fortunately didn’t drag anyone else down with me. I knew all along I should leave but he had destroyed my self esteem to such a degree that I honestly believed I couldn’t live or survive without him.
One day he starting kicking me as I was curled up in a ball on the floor and he wouldn’t stop. I thought he was going to kill me and that’s when I finally hit rock bottom. All I took was some clothes and so began another two years of hell as I tried to survive being penniless, in massive debt at his hands, with no self esteem and by this time a drinking problem.
Why am I telling you all this? I’m hoping it will give you hope that somewhere inside your sister she knows, she just needs to find the point of no return for herself.
These days…well I’m not perfect but I have managed to get my life together and I did it without anyone. I hope more than anything she sees the light before it’s too late and with all of her family’s support hopefully she can get her life back.
You are in my thoughts Selma and I hope everything works out for all of you. Just take care of your parents and yourself until Milly is willing to help herself.
Hi Selma. I will be lighting a candle each day, ’til your sister sees the Light. Which I feel she will, soon. In the meantime, take care of YOU, and I agree with you– be there of course for your Mom and family…..
Peace, woman. Peace.
GYPSY – I am in tears thinking about you having to go through that. I can’t even write. You are truly an inspiration for coming back from such a terrible place. I wish I could have been there to help you.
That point of no return is the key, isn’t it? I dread what my sister will have to go through to get there. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for you sharing your story and I am so, so glad you got through it. XX00XX00XX
LISA – your kindness makes me feel so good. Thank you. Peace to you, my friend.