My heart ached as I realized how much she was like me. She would have stayed married forever, believing in eternal marriage, even though her husband was a total, creepy, cheating jerk.
She was a wreck thinking her marriage covenants were broken because of what he did—abuse, adultery, addiction. My friend now knows, it’s not her fault. She did not break her covenants. And she knows it’s better to leave an evil spouse than to possibly die by his hand. (I say “his hand” though I guess it could be “her hand,” as well, especially when bi-polar disorder is in the mix as it was in my case and hers.)
Another friend told me once that my situation was uncommon in that, I was still married to someone with bi-polar disorder. I told her I intended to stay married because I believed marriage is eternal. I thought I could hold it together, but, of course, we all know, it takes two to work on a marriage.
Still, I couldn’t imagine killing “The Dream.”
I envy those who seem to have wonderful marriages, yet I know other people probably envied me because I never let on what was going on at home. In public, we were a perfect couple with a perfect family. Co-dependency is like that.
And, if you do believe in the fairy tale of the forever marriage* (I am speaking to co-dependents now, not those with really happy and eternal marriages), imagine how devastating it is to discover the offensive secrets your spouse has been hiding—adultery, pornography addiction, prostitutes—on top of the abuse you’ve been putting up with for years or decades.
Ask yourself, is it the spouse you want to keep, or The Dream? Do you want to be abused, or do you want The Dream? No matter what?
Yes, for some of us, it’s The Dream we want—no matter what. We created The Dream, fantasized about it in our minds and our lives, and perpetrated it on the public’s perception. Save face. Look good. Deny. Always deny.
It’s The Dream of a perfect life that dies in a divorce. The Dream shields us from Reality. Say good-bye to The Dream, along with your destructive and, possibly, fatal marriage.
Some of us bear the loss of The Dream better than others. It takes time. Once the co-dependency of an abusive marriage is dealt with, leaving it behind is easier.
I admire all my many friends who let The Dream go, like releasing a balloon in the air and watching it flicker away over the hills, over the mountains and into the clouds. It wasn’t easy.
It’s one of the hardest steps you’ll ever climb.
What is your story about The Dream? Any advice?
* I’m trying to focus on helping others see beyond The Dream when they are in an abusive relationship. I acknowledge there are good marriages. I have many friends who have told me there is no abuse in their marriages, because they know my plight and I need to know there is goodness and trust in marriage.