I have a friend. I know! Shocking, right?!
Anyway, this friend, who shall hereafter be known as DBAGuy, used to work with me at a former employer (hence the name DBAGuy, he was my goto DBA) and is going through a difficult time in his marriage. In a nutshell, he's miserable and wants out, but can't figure out how, so he reached out to me to ask how I did it. Well, he didn't know the struggle I went through and am still going through, so it was a bit of an eye-opener for him. Not the actual legal act of separating, but how bad it got before I made the move. You see, his wife is similar to Douchebag. Oh, not the physical violence, but the asshole attitude, the selfishness etc. The more he explained it to me, the more I felt for him. Sympathy, empathy, grief even. You can tell he was really trying to make it work, but he's gotten himself into the same cycle I got into. A few good weeks and then a few bad, some discussion, and then back to a few good weeks... and so it goes on.
A couple of weeks ago, while I was attempting to relax and enjoy a hard-earned, overly-expensive trip to Jamaica, he asked if we could talk via Skype. He was in a very bad place and had been drinking heavily for a few days. During the 2 or 3 hour conversation (thank God for the free wi-fi), he made a statement that caught me, and I have to agree with him. He hasn't told anyone else about his marital issues, not even family, in large part, he says, because he doesn't want to hear the usual platitudes "It is what it is", "Do what you can", You're strong, you'll get through this". He thanked me for being there for him because not once had I ever used one on him. It knocked me into silence for a few minutes, (during which time he thought the connection had been dropped) but I came back and told him truthfully that it was because in the 3 years I had been going through it, not once had it helped me to hear that "I'm strong". I know I am, but when you are in the middle of a battle to save your children's home, dealing with the emotions and recovering from being a battered wife (yes, diagnosed as such), keeping a smile on your face becomes the most exhausting thing in the world. And on top of that my own family has barely been there for me, even lumping their own (relatively insignificant problems) onto my shoulders because I'm "the rock".
DBAGuy asks me how I'm doing and genuinely CARES about the answer. When I told him the gory details he actually responded with "Wow, no one had any idea you were even going through any of that". So he's become my pseudo-therapist. It's cathartic to be able to speak to him and his responses are not to placate me, they are to help me. He helped me make a decision between the two fabulous job offers; he's listened to and talked me through the myriad issues of having a teenage daughter and as a result my relationship with her is improving; he invites himself over with a bottle of wine and we talk for hours. I haven't got to the point where I'm comfortable enough to cry in front of him yet, but I haven't felt the need to blog about what's going on because I've had someone there.
I'm a firm believer that people come into our lives at certain times for a reason, so although I worked with him a while ago, we really didn't start hanging out in social settings until after I'd left the company, but right around mid-October when I was starting to hit rock bottom, is when he started to open up and talk to me about his issues. I didn't start talking until after Christmas, but that's because it takes me a while to trust now. I still have so many hurdles, and so many bad days, but the hurdles seem slightly less daunting, the bad days have a friend at the end of the phone ready with a bottle of wine and I feel a little more confident that I can and will get through it. He has taught me that I am worthy and I deserve more.
And he will always have a special place in my heart.