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Single +1

Sarah Fowler

How do you save a friend from a bad relationship? And not just a destructive relationship with a man but a destructive relationship with herself? I’ve been tossing this question around in my head for months now and am no closer to an answer today than I was six months ago. As women we are born compassionate and nurturing in nature and protect our friends and family like a lioness protects her young. So what are we supposed to do when those that need our love and protection the most don’t want it because they think they don’t need it? Are we supposed to throw up our hands and walk away and let them make their own mistakes even though we know the heartbreaking path they’re headed down? Or are we supposed to steamroll ahead, nosing our way into their lives until they finally see the light? I love my friends as I would love a sister and obviously only want what is best for them but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s possible to care too much, to be too invested in their lives. At a certain point when do you back off and let someone live their own life, mistakes and all?
I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by an amazing group of women. I have three best friends and we’ve seen each other through six marriages, four divorces, seven children, countless road trips, hours and hours of conversation and the most wonderful love filled ten years I could ever imagine. I owe my life to these women. They literally saved me in my most desperate time of need and I don’t know how I can ever repay them. For nearly three years I was in an abusive relationship. It was an honest to God nightmare and I couldn’t see my way out. Only three women knew my secret and my shame and embarrassment made me shut out the people who loved me the most. I was a strong woman before him and I am a strong after him but during that dark period in my life I felt weak and vulnerable like nothing I had ever imagined myself being capable of feeling. I was slowly dying one day at a time and with every argument, every insult this man chipped away at my spirit. The insecurities that had been brainwashed into me only made me retreat further into the violent relationship. Until my friends had seen enough. It was nothing short of an intervention and thanks to the support of those women I found the strength to walk away. That’s why when one of them needed my help, I dropped everything to run to her.
My girlfriend had been married to her husband for less than a year when he first cheated on her. She was a new Air Force wife and had followed him around the country to three different bases. She didn’t know a soul and at their last base made instant friends with the woman next door. Imagine how devastating it must have been for her to find naked pictures of her new BFF on her husband’s cell phone. She was heartbroken and I immediately went to be by her side. We spent the first twenty four hours talking divorce attorneys and how quickly she could get her things back to Mississippi. However, her hurt and anger quickly morphed into hurt and fear and by the time I left that weekend she was all but clinging to his side, vowing to never leave him. I didn’t claim to understand her decision but as her friend, I supported her. Now, six months later, he has done it again. And once again my friend has buried her head into the sand repeating “But he loves me, it was just a mistake.” over and over again. I don’t know if she’s trying to convince me or herself. I’m heartbroken for her and the marriage she could be losing. Maybe it’s selfish but I’m also heartbroken for the friend that I seem to have lost as well. She used to be a strong, independent woman with a kick butt, take-no-prisoners kind of attitude but now a man has reduced her to a shell of the woman she used to be. All I desperately want to do is shake her out of this fog she seems to be in. Instead, I’m left standing on the sidelines feeling helpless as I watch her throw herself at a man who so clearly does not deserve her. Watching her go down this path that promises to be nothing but grief and heartbreak is quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
It seems the older we get the more settled we get in the ebb and flow of our own lives and stop paying attention to the lives those around us, the ones we care the most about. Topics like abuse and cheating spouses aren’t exactly conversations that are deemed dinner party appropriate but they are conversations that we need to be having with each other. Everyone knows that one friend that is in a bad relationship or that one family member deemed the “Black Sheep” and always seems to be in some sort of trouble. Maybe it’s the Southerner in me, maybe it’s the mommy, or maybe it’s the experience of someone who has been there. These are conversations we need to be having. We laugh and joke about people being nosy, especially in a small Southern town, but maybe that’s what we need to be doing. Maybe we need and secretly want someone there to stick their nose in our business to make sure we’re keeping our own nose clean. Yes, of course at a certain point we have to back off and let people live their own lives and make their own mistakes. Personally though, I am grateful to those three women in my life who are never too far out of reach and who love me regardless, mistakes and all.

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5 comments

  1. Mark

    Were so many people “judging you” that you no longer write about yourself? Now you write about friends instead? Boring! Don’t be scared people might not like you. Just put yourself out there.
    And when did you have time for a 3 year abusive relationship? Single til 18, pregnant at 19, married at 20, divorced at 22, just turned 26. And all this column has been about is NOT being able to find a man.
    You don’t have to make things up to make people more interested in you or your column. Just be yourself and talk about life as a single mom. It’s interesting, I’m sure. My exwife is a single mom (with no kids every other weekend, but still….)
    Good Luck!

  2. Single -3

    I couldn’t get much beyond the first sentence on this one. As much as you might “need” to do so, you can’t save someone else. The only someone you can save is yourself and that will be challenge enough, believe me. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; then, realize they must save themselves. You don’t need that burden or that stress or that guilt when you fail… focus on what you CAN fix.. You can’t fix someone else.

  3. Mike

    I agree with Mark. There is an old adage: if you do not lie you never have to remember what you said. You need to keep your timeline real if you expect to gain any credibility through your mindless drible.

  4. Hoping for Better

    This column has gone down hill. It seems that you become afraid of judgement. Now we read of friends and friends of friends. IF these stories ARE true, you are not a very good friend to be airing not only YOUR dirty laundry to everyone, but now your friends. And you are right, it IS a small town. Do you think there aren’t plenty of people who know who your 3 closest friends are, who you run with? If these stories are false just to write an interesting column, people will still ASSUME its one of these girls. Whispering “is she the one?” “Is it HIM that keeps cheating on so-and-so.” Dangerous ground here.

  5. Mike

    Thank goodness I am not one of your “friends.” If I were I’d never discuss any of my personal life with you so it could be printed in the paper. Men friends would never do this.

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