Sometimes find it’s hard to know the difference between love and abuse. In my day, I slipped and stumbled from one bad relationship to another. Some were so bad that comparison to a horrible medical condition, say diverticulitis, is not unwarranted. You become seduced by the idea of love. You see your friends enjoying, or oblivious in, that state, and you badly want some too.
At some point, you begin to realize that there is no cachet to being miserable in relationships and start to mature out of abuse as a form of love. But, of course, then there are those people who don’t.
My friend Tom “got lucky” and “caught” Marcia on the rebound from me. Marcia had been my breaking point. The two AM calls to make sure that I was by myself grew to be too much. At first, I found them amusing, then irritating, and finally almost terrifying. Tom became the recipient of the two AM calls. He found them reassuring, a sort of testimony to how much Marcia loved him. So one night at the Harvard Gardens, we sat Tom down, and several of Marcia’s failed lovers tried to point out the behaviors that she commonly used. As an intervention, it failed. Tom thought her quirks endearing, and soon they married.
My friends and I spent a lot of time talking about Tom and Marcia. We thought he was a schmo for falling for her. Of course, we knew guys with severe control issues, and some of our female friends had fled physical abuse in that sort of relationship. But Tom and Marcia never seemed to slip over into that pattern. Instead, they orbited around each other like an unbalanced planetary pair. It always seemed that they were bound to crash, but then they would whirl away secure in their erratic but common orbit.
They were still married and running a Bed and Breakfast, the last I heard. It’s the ideal occupation for two people who need reassuring contact with one another. Constantly.