Sunday, October 02, 2005

What price friendship?

We were delighted when our friend told us that she'd finally split from her boyfriend. When we first met him he seemed great - he was the life and soul of the party and loved a laugh. We spent some mad nights out together, drinking and generally having a blast. When it became evident that it wasn't all it seemed, however, things changed. It transpired that the happy facade masked a bitter, abusive man. He was in debt to the tune of thousands of pounds and spent his evenings coaching our friend through loan application after loan application, as his own credit rating was stretched beyond repair. Nothing was ever good enough for him, and there was an altogether darker side that only came to light when she left him the first time. She spent that weekend in my flat, crying and telling horror stories about how life was with him. By the Sunday afternoon she had secured a place in a women's refuge and had organised emergency school transport for her fourteen year old son. Sadly it was the same old story, and by Monday evening she was back at home with him, "making a go of it". At this point we began to draw away from the situation but it was hard. I've known her for over ten years. She took me in when a relationship of mine ended. We've spent many nights in each other's company and I consider her a close friend of mine. But where is the line drawn? At what point do you leave someone to their own devices? Once you've exhausted every line of reasoning? Once you're convinced that they simply won't, or can't, listen to the truth? And is that your truth or the objective truth? In this case she eventually found the strength to leave. Admittedly the catalyst was a beating which culminated in him stamping on her ribs with a booted foot, before spitting in her face and heading off for a restful night's sleep. So she packed a bag and finally got out. The negotiations since then have been protracted and have occasionally involved myself of the Other Half - me in the role of shoulder to cry on and him in the role of six-foot taker-of-no-shit in an abortive attempt to recover some of her belongings from their shared flat. As things stand currently he has no idea where she lives, although he shows up in her local pub every so often. She is working two jobs and is comforted by the knowledge that her son is forging a new and stable life with her parents. They are in regular contact and she is hopeful for his future, and for their future relationship. Her abusive relationship will, hopefully, be consigned to that ever-growing pile we all tuck away and label "experience". It wasn't her first violent relationship - she escaped to a refuge when her son was small after his father became increasingly unstable and the beatings became ever more frequent and vicious. But I hope it will be her last, and I thought that finally she could find some peace. With all this in mind, we were cautiously pleased to hear on Friday night that she's met someone new. He's lovely, we're assured. Genuinely a happy, caring person, with no sign of a violent or bitter streak. She's sure we'll love him when we meet him and she thinks he might be "the one".

Except we won't be meeting him any time soon as he's currently on the run, having broken the parole conditions that granted him early release from a seven year sentence for murder. So I'll ask you again: at what point do you give up on someone and entrust them to their fate?

In other news, Small Person had an eye test today and did so well that she won a brand-new pair of funky pink glasses. She is desperately excited and can't wait to get them next weekend. Her father was quick to point out that my defective genes are to blame but I contented myself with the knowledge that at least she's also inherited my intelligence, sense of humour and the ability to tell when she needs a wash.

16 Comments:

Blogger Jonniker chimed in with...

Oh..oh..ohmigod, really. I don't even know what to say about your friend situation, except that it honest and truly sounds like a bad movie. I'm so sorry.

(however, three cheers for funky pink glasses!)

02 October, 2005 21:19  
Blogger spindleshanks chimed in with...

i went through a series of relationships that were very bad for me including one with someone leading a double life - he was engaged to someone i didn't know about when i got pregnant with first born - and then someone who became quite abusive. i kept going back to both of them for a while always on that "it'll never happen again" promise. it always did. i had a friend - i still do - who despite knowing pretty much from the start they were both losers and would do me no good, stood by and was my shoulder and my rock. i don't know i would have got away from the abusive one without her. i don't know how she did it and i don't know if i would be so patient and enduring but i'm eternally grateful that she was there.

02 October, 2005 21:43  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

You're a good friend sg. I hope your friend appreciates that.
As a Mom you always have to be careful too of how much violence you want brushing up to the life you lead with small people. Its a tough call.
Your friend would probably not get into these bad relationships if she had the self esteem to realize she was worthy of something better. Its so easy to say, I know, but hard to do. I spent 13 years in a rotten marriage until finally breaking away. Not until I'd spent a ton of energy on all the hard things you need to do to develop self esteem.

I wish your friend luck sg, and you too. I hope you don't have to give up on this friendship but it could come to that.

hugs,
Laura

02 October, 2005 22:06  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

oh, and I must add...other half is quite exceptional too. There is nothing like having a solid 6 foot, 'take no bullshit' kind of friend around when things are scary. Now if he could just do something about your spiders in the tub! :-)

02 October, 2005 22:08  
Blogger Whinger chimed in with...

Yikes for your friend, and for you as well. It is always hard to see the bad choices cycle over and over again. It may be that she may need to talk to a professional (assuming she hasn't). Sometimes people listen to sense if it costs a lot....

Yay for girls who wear glasses! Reading is sexy.

03 October, 2005 06:37  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

It's certainly a situation I never want to be involved in again, although I suspect said friend will lurch from one relationship crisis to another.

Makes me even more appreciative of the fulfilling, wonderful place I find myself these days.

03 October, 2005 10:44  
Blogger FUNKYBROWNCHICK chimed in with...

I have a friend who is in a similar situation. She's dating this guy who is just a complete and total loser. I'm 100% honest with her about the way that I feel; I tell her that I think she would have to search high and low and far and for a realy long time to find a more low-quality man.

Not only will she not leave him, she keeps begging him to marry her!!!!!!

And, every time that she calls me, it's like she has a new story that's worst that the last one: he didn't go out with me for Valentine's day, he accidentally vomited on me the other day, he told me that he wants to date my friends instead of me, etc etc.

I think it's absurd and I've told her so. Her response? She gets mad at me, not him. I don't know. There's not much more that I can do ...

Good luck to your friend, and to you. It's not easy to watch someone self-destroy.

Stolie

-----------------------------------
http://funkybrownchick.blogspot.com

03 October, 2005 12:40  
Blogger elvira black chimed in with...

I don't know what it is--maybe something in our Western culture that seems to glamorize the "dangerous" type. These guys never seem to want for female companionship. From what I've read, battered wives/gf's often get conditioned into this cycle by the alternating abuse/reprieve/rinse and repeat cycle--i.e., the guy apologizes profusely, is loving and giving and wonderful--until the next time. Very tragic.

It would be so cool to see a pic of the little one in her smart new pink glasses!

03 October, 2005 17:05  
Blogger Wyndham chimed in with...

A powerful post. I hope everything works out for her.

03 October, 2005 17:17  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

thanks to all for your comments. i really don't know what to do for the best. i have more than enough to be getting on with and i agree with kyahgirl - i have to be very careful who i let near my life, what with small person and all. on the other hand, as spindleshanks so rightly points out, sometimes its the friend who hangs on in there who can make the difference for you.

jonna - yup, yikes.

whinger - yay indeed. nowt sexier than someone who can get lost in a really good read. except maybe someone who, um....nope, can't share that..!

stolie - really? he vomited on her? i hope that was poetic licence.

E - well described. i've been in a mentally abusive relationship and the whole abuse/reprieve/rinse/repeat thing struck a chord. succinctly put, as always

wyndham - ta very much. after the whole fancy dress thing i felt i owed summat a little more, well, valid!

and hon - bless you. you're the best thing (apart from small person but we know that goes without saying) that ever, ever happened to me.

carry on.

03 October, 2005 20:20  
Blogger theclamwhisperer chimed in with...

I read your post tonight and it couldn't have come at a better time..."At what point is the line drawn? When do you leave someone to their own device?" I have a friend who is going through a divorce and in so doing, she has launched herself into the single world with a vengence. I've tried to be a friend -- lend an ear, give advice and help with her children. At times she has called in the middle of the night because of a breakdown...or her son has called to tell me that his mom has her lips to a bottle of bleach. I turned into a 24 hour emergency hotline and daycare. When she finally had the 'big breakdown,' she suddenly elicited family who she 'hated' to ease the ruckus. I became emotionally and physically drained through the process and I realize that some people will drain the blood out of you. That being said, my best friend killed herself when we were thirteen and I'm never going to stop doing all I can to help another....even if it leaves me in embalming fluid. Thank you Surly...and for reading my words sometimes. Very nice.

04 October, 2005 04:22  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

my god, what an awful dilemma

i know i would be torn in your shoes: fearing contact with someone who is, er, known (proven in the courts in this case) to be violent and volatile, but wanting to be there for my friend

not sure what the middle ground is...

could you perhaps indicate to her that you want to be there for her but you restrict your contact mainly to phone calls and emails etc.? explaining to her the reasons why??

gosh, i really don't know...

04 October, 2005 12:18  
Blogger zanna chimed in with...

sorry to bring it down to your final comment but i weed myself laughing at the end. I for one am so grateful that you have the ability to tell when you need a wash and girls in glasses rule x

04 October, 2005 14:24  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

suze, i knew it had to be you that picked up on that one!! madam looks fab in her glasses, however they may make her even more precocious...

gdimpzi: a polish gimp

04 October, 2005 14:28  
Blogger zanna chimed in with...

bless her indeed. by the way who had ronnie barker in celebrity dead people? or is that in really bad taste?

04 October, 2005 14:36  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i have no idea - somebody must have. i bet it was stig.

05 October, 2005 09:16  

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