Dear Mrs. Bluth,
This letter has been a long time in coming, even though I doubt I will have the nerve to follow through on your advice.
You see, I am trapped in a dead marriage, one that has not recently died, but was dead almost from the beginning. It is a curse that is fifty-two years old and will end when I or the malach hamaves I am married to dies, but I think I will be the one to go first.
I got married soon after finishing school. I had no feelings for him when we got engaged; I simply used him to get out from under my parents control, seeking freedom even then. Big mistake. I traded my parents’ iron rule for the privilege of living with the cruelest, most vile excuse for a human being. From the first moment after the chuppah, I became his property to do with as he wished and what he wished was to make my life as miserable as possible – especially when my parents reneged on the financial help they had promised him when we got engaged. In essence, I became collateral damage, something he bought, and then would be saddled with for all time. He decided that I would be good for two things: being a human punching bag when he was angry (which was most of the time) and a baby-making machine.
I can’t count the times I sustained beatings for things he was responsible for, but I do remember the five miscarriages they caused. I had nowhere to turn and nowhere to go, there were no resources like there are today and you were not there for me to write to. So, I suffered in silence, endured and continue to endure his punishing rages, as did my children. They too suffered at his hands and still, they loved him more than the broken mother who tried to shield them.
Today, fully grown, my five sons are much like their father. They abuse their own wives and children, but not nearly in the same way or as bad, because they love their wives in their own twisted ways. My four daughters also married men similar to their father, who are controlling and coarse, but they also tolerate this, just like I do, and for this I alone am guilty. Had I had a backbone to stand up to him early on, perhaps their lives and mine would have been different. But, you know what is said about hindsight. It does little good to lament about what will never change and will stay so until G-d, in His mercy, will see fit to end it.
So why am I writing this letter? Maybe it’s because I need to leave some kind of proof that I existed and of the suffering I endured. Is this noble? Probably not, as it is for selfish reasons that I write, even without hope. But maybe other women who are just starting out in a bad marriage will find the courage and support to leave, and have a chance for a better life. There has always been something in every column you write that touched my spirit and gave me the strength to make it through another week, month, year.
I will look for your words of solace and comfort.
As long as there is life there is hope.
Life is filled with people who have made mistakes and bad decisions, however, the greatest sin of all is not making the effort to fix what is broken, mend what is ripped and go on to live the best lives we can under those circumstances.
Let’s take you, for example, and begin with the first mistake. It is true that way back when it was unheard of for women to leave a marriage, but I know of at least three women in marriages older than yours, who walked out and into a better life, even though they did not manage to get a get. The tradeoff was freedom from suffering and torture, without the hope of remarriage, but to these ladies, the physical, mental and emotional freedom of being able to live without fear and emotional torture was worth it. One of them went back to school and became a lawyer who, today, works with abused women. She still keeps in touch with me and never, for one moment, had any regret for doing what she did. The same with the other two who also became professionals and offer help to women in need. Their freedom came with a price, but doesn’t everything that is worthwhile come with a cost?
One thing is for sure, you have chosen to stay in your situation because you have given up hope that it can be better and that you are worthy of having a good life. Without hope and the belief that you are worth more than you have gotten, there is little chance you will find the will to walk out of your torture chamber and into a world that is filled with love, peace and tranquility.
The only words of solace and comfort I can offer you is to choose life over death. Choose life, so that you can wake in the morning and know there is no sledgehammer that will hit you over the head. Allow yourself the luxury of dreams and desires, of the simple joy of peace and hope for happiness. But know that you have to want it more than you want death to free you. That is the beginning of courage and hope. I beg you to consider this; even at this stage in your life there is so much beauty and happiness waiting for you.
I may not have been here for you fifty-two years ago, but I’m here now. All you have to do is reach out and there will be hands to pull you up, hearts to heal your heart and friendships just waiting to be enjoyed. We are all here to walk beside you every step of the way. All you have to do is take those first baby steps to freedom and the rest will follow.