The Sign My Friends Noticed That My Husband Was Making My Life Miserable — That I Completely Missed

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Women comforting their friend

I was sitting with some friends at lunch. I was pretending to be happy because I was keeping a secret. My husband had been behaving uncharacteristically. He had been drinking too much and was scaring my kids and me.

I didn't want to tell my friends. 

But they could sense something was not right. I was starting to change. I was over-talking at times and unable to clearly convey some things. I was basically externalizing my stress only they didn't know what was causing it. 

They just recognized I was drastically changing. 

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"I have a lot on my mind," I said. 

"It sort of feels like things seem out of your control or something," said one of them.

I nodded in agreement. 

"I just have a lot to figure out," I said.

"Things will be fine," said my other friend. "If you just go back to being the leader that you have always been."

We said our goodbyes and I headed out. I made my way home and up the stairs into my office. I sat at my desk and stared out the window into our yard. I was at a personal loss. I had never experienced this type of burden.

One person (my husband) was ruling every aspect of our lives.

I pleaded with him to address his behavior and whatever was bothering him but he wouldn't listen.

I thought of what my two friends had just said to me.

Their insight was remarkable. Without even knowing the problem, they zeroed in on how my husband was making my life feel completely out of control. Yet they had no idea he was actually doing something. I hadn't shared any of my marital problems with them, let alone the secret I was keeping. 

They just knew something was dramatically different in me.

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They recognized I had made a massive departure from myself. 

I was a happy woman with big joy in life. I was always smiling or joking. I walked with a presence because I couldn’t wait to get where I was going. I was a confident problem solver who tackled things as an enthusiastic challenge.

When the person I was living with became unpredictable all of that changed.

I was running emotional interference. I never knew what my husband was going to do next.

I knew my husband was behaving badly. I knew he was upsetting me. I knew he was negatively impacting me. I knew he was acting like a child who needed to grow up. I knew all of this was bad. 

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What I didn’t realize were the two things my two friends zeroed in on — how my husband’s bad behavior wasn’t just upsetting me; it was changing me.

I had lost all sense of security and predictability in my life. I no longer lived with a steady Eddy. I lived with someone I couldn’t trust. This was far beyond the emotions of being angry or frustrated with my husband or worrying about him. This was far outside the parameters of conflict or arguments.

Another person wasn’t upsetting me.

They were shaking my core. 

In turn, I wasn’t presenting as the leader I had always been. I was withdrawing and perseverating over some things. And other areas of my life now felt out of control as well, like my worries as a mother trying to protect my children from their father’s bad behavior

It would take several years after two incredibly insightful friends spoke the truth for me to leave my husband.

I confused marital vows with a reason to continue making excuses for the extremely bad behavior of my spouse.

I didn’t deserve to live with a man who made my world feel out of control. Or to arrogantly change who I had always been my entire life.

Looking back, I’m so mad I ever let it happen.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.