A "Stolen" Husband
“I can’t believe you stole her husband!” a friend at work exclaimed. “I thought you two were friends!”
Tonia was stunned. What did she mean, "stole her husband"? Lori had called her up Friday night threatening to commit suicide unless she got the man out of her house. Tonia had repeatedly told Lori he could not come and live with her, while Lori became increasingly hysterical and incoherent. Finally, Tonia broke down and said he could stay at her house for a week, until other arrangements could be made.
Tonia had started this job almost a year ago. The people seemed nice and everything was going well. One woman in particular befriended her. Their daughters were about the same age and they had both grown up on the east coast, far from this hell hole-in-the-wall town. Military husbands had brought them here, although Tonia had kicked her’s out the week before. There were only so many things Tonia could put up with, and messing with her daughter was not one of them.
In the beginning of their friendship, the other staff made snide comments such as, “Isn’t it nice that Lori has her own therapist now.” Tonia did not understand the comments and ignored them. She knew people were weird all over and sometimes it was best to not pay attention to them. This Monday morning, she was wishing she had paid attention!
An Old Cliche
The story was an old cliche. It (the lie) went this way:
Tonia became friends with Lori, then fell for Lori’s husband. She maintained the friendship to remain close to him, worming her way into his affections. Then Tonia divorced her own husband to make sure she was available. Poor Lori, so trusting, never realized what was happening. Tonia was a home-wrecking bitch and Lori was the poor victim.
Tonia tried to explain the truth, but no one listened. Tonia’s world shattered. How could they believe Lori (who was known to lie often) over herself who never lied. One of the strange truths of the world dawned on Tonia that day. Most people would prefer to believe the worst about others. Tonia’s life was changed forever.
People whom Tonia thought were her friends, were now talking about her and shunning her. Tension was high at work and soon became unbearable. To top it all off, she was stuck with this man in her house, and he always came up with an excuse to stay another week. Granted he was helpful, but she had just gotten rid of one man and did not want another in her house.
Tonia found another job, and at least work was better. When she ran into someone from her old job they ignored her. All of them except one woman. This woman said she believed Tonia. However, you could see she was visibly scared to be seen talking to Tonia. She told Tonia that "they" would run her out of work if "they" saw her.
About a month after the incident at work, Lori called Tonia. “My priest said I needed to call and apologize. I lied to everyone because I didn’t want to seem like a failure. I’m sorry, I am a compulsive liar. I’ve done this my whole life,” Lori explained.
“Sorry!” Tonia retorted, “Will you tell everyone you lied?”
“Oh no, I can’t do that! I would make a fool of myself!” Lori responded.
“Why are you calling me?” Tonia demanded.
“I was talking to my priest and he told me I had to call and apologize to you. He said that I needed to make it right.” Lori went on, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen. It just came out of my mouth.”
“But you won’t tell everyone that you begged me to let him stay here? That you have been unhappy with him for as long as I’ve known you and have been trying to get him to move out for months?” Tonia asked bewildered.
“No, I couldn’t. No one but you knew we were having problems. They would think it was partially my fault," explained Lori.
Tonia could barely restrain herself to saying, “Please don’t ever call me again. I have nothing to say to you. You have lied about me, slandered me and degraded my character. I can’t forgive you if you do not tell the truth.” Tonia hung up the phone.
This Song is About Someone Else Who Lies So Much She Believes It
Tonia sat outside that night and looked at the stars. She vowed no one would ever get close enough to hurt her this much again. There was no trust left, this one lie had emptied her. She was dry, the desert sands blew through her soul, polishing and hardening it. She still made acquaintances, but never friends. She wrapped her true self, her feelings and her heart in a place far within herself where no one could touch them again.
Becoming a Recluse
Focusing on her family, she made a life devoid of friendship. Loved and admired by many, she stumbled along in life alone, never having the strength to open up. Tonia still worked, still had “friends” at work, but when they went out, she made excuses. Soon they would stop asking. They thought she didn’t really like them, never guessing her weakness.
There were other reasons Tonia stored herself away that day, other hurts, betrayals and losses. What happened was just the proverbial final straw. Tonia realized that she attracted people who hurt her. She knew her great gift in life was empathy and this is what attracted them. She could not hide that gift entirely, but instead refused when hands were offered. She had learned the hard way, hands that helped you up one minute, could slap you down the next.
The hardest part for Tonia is she knew. She knew that she needed to unlock herself to live fully and happily. She knew that her heart hurt because of the denial that anything was wrong. Tonia went from being a happy, out-going individual, to essentially becoming a recluse. She became socially impaired.
Boring is Perfect
Somewhere along the way the internet was invented. Tonia would spend hours and days researching information, often random, useless information. This distracted her more fully from the need to have friends. She could communicate with others without ever showing her real self. And when she cried, no-one ever knew. In a way, Tonia was happy.
Days and years passed uneventfully. Boring was perfect for Tonia. Boring never hurt. It was safe, known, and easy. There were some ups and downs related to the family, but never touching further than one person away. She did love her family, their trials were her trials, but other people’s trials did not touch her. Thus, time passed, day by day and year by year.
A Cry For Help From Another Who Locked Themselves Away
Then one day she found a hobby. Along with hopes and dreams, she had given up on hobbies. Creative expression hurt, or it didn’t hurt, but it brought hurt to the forefront again. Once upon a time she had been very creative. She drew, did calligraphy, took photos and embroidered. Now, she found that she could write. Writing brought it all to the forefront, all the hurt, all the loss and all the pain of a pain-free existence. But, it also acted as catharsis. It cauterized certain hurts and she wondered if it could go further.
She wrote of some of the hurts in her life. She (always naive) was amazed when people responded kindly. She wrote of a really bad time and found that people cared. People who did not know her, really and actually cared. She cried and wished she could break out of the prison she had put herself in so long ago. Tonia was lost, she was not sure she could still find the room she had locked it all away in. That door was polished so well it seemed like a wall.
It had been years since Tonia last cried for herself. She thought she had forgotten how. Now suddenly, tears flowed for what might have been, for the “me” she had locked away. And she wondered, would she ever find herself again? She let the tears flow and decided she would find the door. Somehow, some way, she would find that door and pull it down. She would let her full self out.
© 2009 Kari Poulsen