It’s not my place to tell her about what abuse she has to look forward to in her new relationship with my ex-abuser. It’s none of my business that, from this distance, I can clearly sense what is happening. If I approached her, she would probably get mad at me.
I’m sure he’s told her what a head-case I am, warned her to limit her contact with me. At the very least, he’s agreed with her perspective on how crazy I must be to have left him, that it takes two to tango, that I have baggage I didn’t work through in all those years we were together.
But if I were to write her a letter, this is how it would go:
Letter To Her, His New Victim
Dear New Woman,
I’m sure he calls you “Woman” endearingly, with a smile and warmth that you can feel. That fuzzy feeling will wear off quickly as you realize that “Woman” is all you are. You fill a void for him, nothing more.
You take the unmanly workload from him, serve him, and tolerate his whims both financial and emotional. I know this seems romantic and you’re doing it because it’s been your job since before you met him – to make your loved ones comfortable. I know you take pride in your ability to comfort him. You are loving and kind, New Woman, but that’s about to get you into trouble.
I know that you two fight and try to keep it private and away from the kids. I know you stick up for yourself most vehemently. At this point in the game, you probably “win” at least half of the time. You may think you will be able to do something that I couldn’t – be his equal. You probably consider that I was weaker than you, that I couldn’t take such a strong man in my life. You may think you are able to “take it” better than me because of weaknesses in my character. In fact, you are strong. You are resilient. You are loyal. And those characteristics are about to get you into trouble.
I know that he just returned from a trip to a combat zone. Good God, I can’t imagine the stress he was under seeing and hearing all he experienced there. I don’t know how he does it either…and to consider that he volunteered for that crap to pay me a settlement! He is a hero, no? And so brave!
Maybe he’s shared a horror story with you already or maybe he’s playing it close to the chest. He deserves understanding and compassion as he readjusts to family life. Because you are compassionate, you will allow him some room to adjust. Because you are empathetic and sympathetic, you will serve him well in his time of need. He will get just what he needs from you right now – more control.
You see, he’s done you a huge favors in the few months you’ve known him. He’s repaired your vehicle. He’s allowed your dog to live in the house and crawl up on his lap. He pets it, seems to love it because you love it. He moved you and your two children into his home along with your daughter’s child and boyfriend. He tells you the children aren’t his, that he has no right to them, that you’re their mother and that’s how it should be.
And yet he’s dropping hints that your dog isn’t as great as you pretended and that your parenting skills aren’t as good as you presented in the beginning. He kept you outside on the porch for hours the other night, calmly discussing “what to do” about your daughter. You see, because he has the “wiggle room” he needs to regain control, he’s pushing his boundaries.
And you, New Woman, due to your loyalty, compassion, resiliency, strength, empathy, and admiration for his experience, you are rolling back your boundaries, temporarily you think, because you love him. You believe that because you “win” fifty percent of the time, that you will regain your footing very soon. You think he will go back to normal in time.
New Woman, this is his normal. Once you roll back your boundaries, it is difficult if not impossible to reset them. You are facing hours of conversation on the porch in which he will tell you that it isn’t fair for you to be so inconsistent with your “rules”. You didn’t have a problem with his requests before, and now your irrational emotions are causing him fits.
He’s going to lash out, saying that if you had been as good a parent as you’d said, then he wouldn’t have to step in like this and take care of you and your children and your dog. He insinuates that you now take his generosity for granted and use his ability to work and budget the money to meet your own selfish needs.
Besides, New Woman, what are your options for moving out as his true face begins to show? What did you sacrifice in order to make him comfortable? I know living with your mother wasn’t working out before. I am guessing that you moved new renters into your investment home and cannot move there until the lease is up. He is betting the farm that by the time you could move out that you will be wrapped so tightly in his grip you won’t be able to see a way out.
New Woman, although you won’t listen to me, I am trying very hard to warn you. Pay attention. You are not crazy, your perception is correct. You’re right when you think “something is wrong”. I’m not your friend, I’m not your enemy. But I do know the man you’re living with and I know where your heart is headed. Being the wonderful woman you are is about to get you into trouble.