I have a dream in which one of my best friends is free from a bad relationship. Recently, she was released from a rehabilitation center after nearly six weeks, and she could not wait to get home. Indeed, she was running a fever on the day she was to go home, and she begged the nurse’s aide not to record it on her chart.
She returned home with such excitement to be back with her husband and her dogs, all six of them (dogs, not husbands). She suffers chronic pain and needs strong prescription medication, which tends to cause her to sleep a lot.
The day after she went home, I missed a call from her. When I went to screen her call, I thought that she had said that someone had broken into her house and stolen her money. Of course, I called her back as soon as I heard the message.
When she answered, her tears broke my heart. She was so distraught, not because a stranger had broken in and took her money, as I thought, but her husband had stolen her bank card, after learning her pin, and cleaned out her bank account, including her latest Social Security monies.
I will tell you that I was glad that he was nowhere in front of me or within reach of my feet. He waited until she was asleep to scavenge in her pocketbook for a card that she would never have voluntarily given him. In fact, she had tied her pocketbook to the bedpost next to her, to prevent this very scenario from happening, because he has been fighting an addiction to crack for years.
Over the years when she has called me because he sold her car or her jewelry and she had to spend money to get them back, I have advised her to let him go. I asserted to her that with her faith in God, she would meet someone real who would appreciate her and treat her with the respect she is due.
This guy makes a pageant of love, meaning a pretentious display or show of love that lacks real meaning. When he is sober, he does all the right moves, telling her that he loves her and that she is the most important person in his life. He cooks and takes care of her, for she has battled cancer twice and been in and out of the hospital a lot in the last two years.
But, I told her that, while it is good that he takes care of her when she is sick, a man who would steal your last dime while you are ill or who sells your possessions without any remorse, demonstrates a kinky kind of love that is a form of psychological abuse.
But, she doesn’t hear me. Part of the reason is that her family and friends have stopped visiting to help her, mainly because they are frustrated with her unwillingness to leave him.
So, she sees him as her only help, and that she has to put up with his behaviors because she has nobody else to help and take care of her. TAlso, they attend church when she is well, and she feels that as a Christian wife, she is obligated to remain, no matter what he does.
I have tried to disavow her of that belief, but stop short of advocating a divorce, for that is a choice people must make for themselves. I simply tell her that God does not want her to suffer like this.
I feel sometimes like I cannot advise her to leave him, because I, too, am not around to help her, living in a different city. I don’t visit as much as I probably should, with her living less than two hours away.
But when I visit her home, I cannot not take anything of value inside the house. My pocketbook, cellphone, Kindle, laptop computer, and rings remain locked in my car, and even then, I am constantly making sure I know where he is, in case I forgot to lock the car doors.
I cannot send her a check or money order to help her pay bills, for I worry that he will intercept the delivery and spend it on drugs. Yes, I realize that addiction is a disease, but this man has been doing this for nearly twenty years.
I don’t know what to do, and I want to do something. I need to do something! But Douglas reminds me that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink, even if they are dying from thirst. In this case, I would like to rein in the horse and keep pushing the head toward the water until they understand that the water will help keep them alive and they start drinking for all that they are worth.
I guess that all I can do is pray for her to see the situation as it really is. I ask God to keep her in His tender mercy. I can also call her to let her know that I love her, no matter what her decisions are. She needs to know that he is not all that she has, but short of moving near her, I have few options. This is one time that I wish horses could be made to drink against their will.