Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I have written and rewritten this letter many times over the course of the last year and a half, but never had the courage to send it. However, things have gotten so bad, I finally had the courage.  Ours is a small and closely intertwined community where even a hint of gossip becomes everyone’s business and, as I have children of marriageable age, I try to be very circumspect.  I hope this letter does not give away any clues to who we are and that you will be able to help us.

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Over twenty some odd years ago, I lost my parents in an accident and went to live with relatives who didn’t want me, but couldn’t send me away because it would make them look bad.  They married me off at a young age to an older man, who came from a good family and was well thought of.

With no one to confide in or to mentor me, I was not prepared for marriage and what experienced from the first moments of our intimacy, frightened and shocked, and sometimes repulsed me.  I never developed a close, loving relationship with my husband, quite the opposite in fact. I much preferred to be away from him than with him.  He, in turn, lost patience with me and our marriage became a loveless, distant relationship that produced three children.

I had my first child ten months into the marriage and poured my loneliness and aching heart into caring and loving this child.  As I devoted almost all my time to the child, my husband’s resentment towards me grew and translated itself into vile name-calling and debasement when we were home alone.  In public, he appeared the model husband, although distant and aloof, so no one suspected how cruel he was in private.  As the two other children came, the youngest born with emotional problems which caused him to have body spasms, wild temper tantrums and uncontrollable crying fits, my husband’s anger increased to the point that he no longer cared where and when he verbally attacked me.  As much as I tried to shield the children from his tirades, there was simply no way to mute his vile insults, and I simply gave up trying.

As the children got older, whenever I denied them what they wanted, they would parrot back their father’s name-calling and ugly insults and as they grew, I noticed them turning more to him, because he would buy them whatever I did not or could not.  As they became teenagers and went off to schools abroad, I hoped that when they returned, they would be wiser, more mature and more respectful of me.  This did not happen.  Our oldest child returned and simply ignored me, turning completely to her father, as though I didn’t exist.  When she met her young man, she had him meet her father first in a coffee shop, where they agreed on the engagement and planned the L’chayim.  I was absolutely heartbroken.

I don’t know how much more I can take and there are days when I entertain thoughts of ending my misery and leaving them to deal with explaining it to the neighbors and the community.  I am broken in body, mind and spirit.

 

 

Dear Friend,

When we find ourselves in a dark place, we tend to think dark thoughts and you have been in a dark place for a very long time.  I am grateful for your trust in reaching out to me because I can hear how hard it must have been for you to do so.

Life, even in its darkest moments, is precious and worth living if only you can find something to hold on to.  You have isolated yourself in a loveless, cruel and painful marriage without benefit of the comfort that should have come from family or friends. No one could know of your of your plight, and at the same time, there is no one who could help you. What hand was there for you to hold on to so you wouldn’t sink into the quicksand of your misery? Who was there to offset the horrible steady diet of debasement and verbal abuse fed to your children by a husband who may, in his own way feel cheated and abused in the marriage?

There are so many issues in your marriage that were contributors to the end result, that it would take deep and intensive couple’s counseling, as well as therapy for your children.  Everyone in your family is suffering, however, I would venture to say that all is not lost, and if you let me try to help sort through it with you, I have hope that you will find your way out of the darkness and back into the light.  There are many wonderful people ready, willing and able to reach out to you and help you, discretely and with respect for your privacy. Please get in touch with me.  I care.

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