I am not married. I am not even in a relationship at the moment. I do know lots of married and coupled up people. I see lots of really good relationships, and I see some that should have the plug pulled and quick. But as an outsider of those relationships, I mostly keep my mouth shut. It isn’t my place to bust up people or families. But if you see something really wrong, should you say something?
A lot of this can be observed in the restaurant industry. We work together closely, and so we learn a lot about our co-workers relationships. We have a lot of time to chat about who does what, who is happy, who isn’t, and on and on. And you can tell when someone is really happy, or when they are trying to convince you that they are happy but they really are miserable. I can give my opinions, but my own personal experiences lack any real weight. I can only go on what I have seen and heard from others. Any time I have told someone they deserve better, I have meant it and they have almost never listened or believed me. It’s sad, but you can only leave something when you are truly ready to go.
One thing I see, and it is rare, is the abusive relationships. I thankfully have seen very few physically abusive relationships, but what I mean is the mentally abusive ones. Both kinds are usually about one thing: Control. One person wants the control of the relationship. Maybe they control the money. Maybe it is access to their partner. But make no mistake, once you relinquish that control, you are not getting it back from that person. You will systematically lose who you are, and you will lose people that love you. I don’t know how it has happened to some of the strongest people I know, but it has. I figure maybe they just weren’t as strong as I thought they were. But it breaks my heart that it goes on.
Do you have a friend or family member who lost themselves to another person? I don’t mean the “head over heals” in love thing. I mean that their partner very systematically removed them from your life, through controlling actions. They usually are absolutely insecure themselves, so they use some pretty rotten tactics to gain control over their partner. They will use other people even to control the narrative of how much access outside people have to their victim. And so much of “I am the only one you need, I am your everything.” I know they make the other person miserable about stuff, so much so that it is easier to just not upset them. Do as little as possible so you don’t have to deal with their wrath. Don’t rock the boat, as it were.
It’s hard to watch it happen. You lose someone you care very much about, and there isn’t much you can do to “save” them until they realize on their own they have to get out of it, and often they don’t know how to, because they have lost touch with those that want to help. If you have someone like that, don’t give up on them. Reach out when you can, and be a presence, even if you don’t get to see them. Let them know you are around. It may be a huge safety net for them someday, I hope.
I have personal reasons for this, and it bubbles up every so often and there isn’t much I can do. I try hard to help people when I can, but if they don’t realize they need someone, you can only do so much for them. Just be there. Keep the same phone number. A few people I know will hopefully need an escape plan someday, and I would be happy to drive the getaway car. Until then, I pray for them, and I listen. I look for signs that they are ok.
If you can, be a beacon for someone in the dark. They may not realize there isn’t much light reaching them, but someday it may catch their eye, and it will be the one big thing they need. It is a thankless position, but hope is a good thing. And I hope we all hit the light together someday.