I need to tell you something that is going on inside me. It’s what my gut tells me, and it is causing an enormously painful moral and ethical dissonance inside me.
I am afraid that part of why us not living together anymore is so upsetting to you is because you know, deep down, that Lora isn’t going to get better, and if I wasn’t there to provide some kind of buffer and immediate support, you wouldn’t be able to handle staying in a relationship with her.
When you talk about how you’ve become introverted, isolated, and afraid, my gut tells me it’s because you’ve been being abused for a very long time, and you’re gradually retreating into yourself as a coping mechanism, as a result.
When I say that Lora abuses you, I need you to understand that I am not putting her into a cookie-cutter template of a human, where all humanity is stripped away, and she is simply An Abuser. She is a person who has also been abused. She loves you. She’s funny. She’s smart. She’s passionate. She’s trying. She’s a complicated spectrum of a human being. But she is also someone who abuses you, and has been abusing you for years. I think you’re getting to the point where your psyche won’t be able to handle it much longer. I worry that if I left, you wouldn’t be able to handle it any more.
If I stay, I may be enabling you to stay and enabling her to abuse you. You may just keep wearing down, as you have been wearing down. Into being more fearful, more self-contained. More exhausted. Less alive. Watching the way you flinch when things that may upset Lora happen (It happens fairly regularly. You have this little jerk that you do sometimes. It’s heart breaking to watch). Watching these things happen to you is doing the same to me.
Is it morally wrong for me to stay, if I believe that is what’s happening?
If I leave, will that break us?
I don’t know what the right thing is to do. I don’t know what the ethical thing to do is. I don’t know if telling you this is ethical. I don’t know what to do when my gut is screaming to me that this is NOT going to get better. Being afraid of making the wrong decision is tearing me apart. And not sharing this with you has been tearing me apart, even as I worry that writing this to you is going to tear you and me apart.
Writing all that, I realized something. If I truly believe Lora is abusing you (which I do) and I truly believe that it is slowly wearing you away and seriously harming you (which I do), then I am ethically bound to tell you so. Even if it damages our relationship. Because the highest thing that I should be striving towards is helping those people who I love stay safe. I cannot force you to end your relationship with Lora. You have to make your own decision to stay or go. I can offer you support if you choose to go. But ethically, I cannot continue to stay silent and not address the repeated emotional and verbal abuse that I have personally overheard.
Ethically, I also cannot continue to live in a situation where someone is being abused, for fear of my staying being construed as tacit acceptance, or it potentially helping to enable the abuse.
I realize that this is a reverse from what I said earlier. I also realize that it will upset Lora. And that, right there, that is kind of the crux of things. I’m telling you, I have told you repeatedly that living in this situation and hearing you be verbally and emotionally abused is damaging to you and to me. I have told you how deeply disturbing it is. It is HARMING ME. But your concern, upon hearing that I couldn’t handle watching you be abused anymore because it is damaging me was to be worried that Lora was going to be surprised and upset that I wasn’t trying to figure out a way for us all to live together.
Jon, this is beyond bad. If I wasn’t certain with every atom in me of your love for me, I would think that you didn’t care about me at all. You are putting the upset feelings of the abuser who you love above the feelings of another person who you love, who is being terrorized and abused herself, by having to hear you be abused, and watch you disappear a little bit more every day.
Being a part of this is killing me. I believe it’s killing you too.
I need to get out. Even if you don’t, and I have to keep watching you die by slow degrees, I need to get out.
If you are going to stay with Lora, because you truly believe that she is going to get better, then I deeply and sincerely hope that you are right, for both your sakes.
But I cannot apologize for walking away myself.
I just realized that I’ve been more concerned with Lora getting upset, more afraid of her anger, of her taking things out on you, of her feelings getting hurt than taking care of you or advocating for me. I can’t do that anymore.
Some of it is the positions that we’re in. I know you love her. I wanted to give her every chance. And I did. I’ve been silent while she has said and done things to you that I would NEVER condone in a friend. If I judged her behavior by the same criteria that I judge the people I allow to get close to me (including you), I would have stopping being her friend a very long time ago.
But I know how very much you love her, and because of that, I overlooked so many troubling behaviors of hers. I excused so many things that I’d find inexcusable in any other person. Things that I would find inexcusable in YOU, if YOU did them to me, I excused in her. For you.
That is madness. It’s a double standard that has brought me misery, and despair, and depression.
I love you so much. But I cannot do this any longer.