I have had this post rolling around in my head for the past few days and I think its about finished. I only have a few minutes, so hopefully I can piece it together in a way that makes sense and is not too offensive.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the wedding of my cousin. We are pretty close as cousins go and I couldn't be happier for him. He married a fantastic girl from Idaho, who, although she is a little quieter than the rest of our loud-mouthed family, is perfect for him. You could see how happy he was. It was pretty cute. (Its a good thing he doesn't read my blog or he'd probably kill me!!) Anyway, I digress.
As some of you may know, I have a relative who I love to the stars who is in a really rotten relationship. Lets call her Betty. Since Betty got together with, lets call him Fred, I have not liked him. Something about him has always rubbed me the wrong way about him. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing overtly wrong with Fred. But Betty changed when she started dating Fred. Not a good thing. However, to be supportive, you sit back and don't say much of anything, just keep a watchful eye. And thats what I did. As time passed, things got progressively worse. Again, nothing openly horrible, but the odd comment that was rude or disrespectful. Now here it is several years later and Fred is openly degrading to Betty. Betty has been verbally and mentally abused to the point that she is now not the same women she was years ago. There is sadness in everything about her. But she loves him. I know, you are asking how that is possible. Let me tell you from experience how it is possible. Years ago when she started the relationship, Fred was not this way. He was a man who could be loved, not the monster today. And as a woman, beaten or not, you want to believe that that man is still somewhere in there. That your love is enough to pull him through this. What you don't realize is that somewhere inside you, his abuse is working. You tell yourself that you are not good enough to get someone else and that you are better off with him than alone. Or that no one will have you now, you're used merchandise. Or whatever combination of lies he has been feeding you to keep you there. He is a manipulator who preys on your insecurities. He has picked at you little by little, making bits of you disappear without you or anyone else even noticing, until suddenly you stand there, looking in the mirror, a shadow of who you started out as. Not a pretty picture. (I promise, there is point, just bear with me a little longer)
And then comes the day when Fred pulls his final trick. He tells you he doesn't love you anymore and he wants you to leave. You panic. You are completely blindsighted. You have no idea where this came from and are racking your brain trying to figure out what you did wrong. You beg him to reconsider, try to make things work. And then Fred has you right where he wants you. He is in control. He can now say or do anything he wants and you won't say a thing because you are too afraid to.
This is where Betty is right now. (I'm getting to the point, really.) And this is where she was this past weekend at my cousin's wedding. Throughout the entire reception, Betty was miserable. And Fred was as rude as ever. Several time, I saw Betty leaving with tears in her eyes. I had to steer clear b/c I knew I would not be able to control myself with Fred and I was not going to ruin my cousins day. Then, the next morning, we had the present opening. Fred was there and his rudeness wasn't just contained to Betty. He was rude to everyone. My aunt, whose house we were at, has ALWAYS had a rule that no shoes are to be worn in her house. Seriously, as long as I can remember, shoes did not go past the entrance. Well, in walks Fred with his shoes on and someone says (very politely) "Fred, no shoes in the house" to which Fred yelled "Who are you, my father. F-bomb". Yep, you heard me right. As most of you know, I'm kind of on the liberal end of the spectrum. While the occasional "Hell" or "Damn" has been known to slip out, that is my limit. And my aunt is WAY more conservative than me. I only remeber one time when someone swore around my aunt and, let me tell you, I was scared. My 5 foot tall aunt suddenly became terrifying. So, there I was, Fred having just dropped the F-bomb and I was waiting for the fury or my aunt to be unleashed. But it never came. I was shocked, but thought that perhaps, my aunt hadn't heard. She was very busy getting breakfast ready, so maybe she missed it. No one else was too near Fred and I, so not much else happend. The moring progressed and people began to pack my aunt's not-so-big house. Literally, we were sitting on top of each other and in rows. Betty was sitting next to me on the couch and there were people sitting in front of us. Our view was completely obstructed. So, Betty passed the camera down the line to someone who would be able to get a good shot. Several minutes later, in walks Fred and he starts in on Betty about why isn't SHE taking the pictures, couldn't she get her butt off the couch and move, ect. In front of everyone. My mom then says, (again, very politely) "Don't talk to my sister that way, Fred." Fred replies by flipping her the bird and saying, "up yours." Ok, now I'm SURE my aunt is going to tell Fred to wait outside. Not only has Fred been rude to two of her sisters now, sworn in her house while wearing his shoes, but he did it in front of the brides family. My aunt is very much one for making the right impression, so I'm sure this will not be tolerated. I wait. No one says anything, until my mom says Fred has no right and tells him to get out. Things quickly turn from bad to worse as mom gets up to escort Fred outside. To my astonishment, my aunt tells my MOM to sit down and stop, NOT Fred. Well, outside go Fred and Mom, both with raised voices, followed by Betty and finally, one of my uncles. Here is what it sounded like from inside.
Mom: Who do you think you are to do that to me. And to treat my sister that way. Get out and don't come back.
Betty: Jackie, I have to ride home with him, stop it, please.
Fred: You F*ing B*
Betty (crying): Please...
Mom: Betty, you can ride home with us, you don't need him.
Fred: (more of the same)
Betty (now crying hysterically and almost screaming): Stop, please, stop it!
Ok, this is the shortened version but you get the picture. Then, out goes my cousin, who asks Mom to please stop it, and not to ruin his day. So, in come cousin, uncle and mom. Betty and Fred stay outside. Cousin goes back to opening gifts and mom returns to seat very upset. In comes Betty. Then, in comes Fred. Yep, he is in control. He can make a scene and no one says anything and then walk back in like nothing happened.
So, off go the new in-laws, back to Idaho. Off go Betty and Fred, with some not so kind parting words from Fred to Mom, and hugs from Fred to others. Yep, they hugged him. Does anyone else see something wrong with this?
After Fred and Betty leave, my aunt starts in on Mom for how she acted. Yep, you heard me right. NOTHING was said to Fred, who not only wore his shoes in the house, was rude to Betty and Mom, swore repeatedly, but also PUSHED Mom, but Mom got in trouble. Now, I know it was not Mom's house and for that she did apologize, and she also apologized for the timing. HOWEVER, if my aunt, the mother of the groom, had stood for what she beleived in from the start, the whole situation would have been avoided. Fred would have been told to leave long before the whole fiasco. Instead, she sat back and allowed the abuse to happen, in her own home. And to top it all off, Mom got in trouble for standing up for someone who needed a little extra support.
How often do we back down from what we believe to be true and right so we don't make waves. How often do we sit back and watch as someone does something we know is not right, but we don't have the courage to do something about it. Please, don't be that person. Make waves. Stand up and shout from the rooftops what you believe in and then BACK IT UP!!!!! You may lose a friend or two, but you will gain respect of those who truly love you. And you will be able to respect yourself. That is worth more than a little embarassment for a moment or two.