Friday, March 28, 2008

The Charybdis vortex

I was invited to a good friend's wedding next month, and looking forward to it, especially since he had always said he'd never get married again. He's a real sweetheart. He's kind, giving, forgiving and genuinely a good man but I had my doubts when I met his girlfriend/fiancee. On the surface she seemed nice and was polite when we met. That turned out to be one of her faces. She has several.

I happened to see her at a concert recently where she sat a couple rows in front of me. I waited until the intermission to speak to her but couldn't find her so I went to the restroom. As I sat there contemplating my belly button, I heard her voice and she was furious. I tried to hurry up, but nature just will not be hurried, and I am glad now that I did because had I emerged I'm certain I would have been blasted to smithereens.

She had nothing good to say about my friend and screamed that he was cheating on her. The other voice, supposedly a friend, reminded her that she had been cheating on him from the beginning and really didn't have the right to complain -- the pot calling the kettle black, and all that. There was a sharp crack of sound that could only have been a slap, followed by a shocked gasp. "You know it's true," her friend said through her tears. "No one cheats on me," she said. "When I find out who it is I'll make them both pay, but he's not getting out of this marriage. I am not going to give up the house or the income from the renters, and I'm certainly not going to let him get out of this so easily."

I heard the door open and the friend's voice sounded farther away. "Yeah, you worked so hard for it. You tricked him into moving you into the house his mother gave him with that phony story of being stalked. If he's smart, he'll kick you out." The door swished shut with a soft thunk. "We'll just see about that," she said. The stall door next to mine slammed shut. I got out of there as quickly as possible and left the concert.

I'd heard stories from his best friend, but I didn't pay that much attention to them because she was hurt because they hadn't been close since the girlfriend came into his life. After all, his best friend is a lesbian and he is not the kind of man who is willing to give up sex for the rest of his life. I chalked all the complaints and stories up to jealousy and hurt. Now the stories make sense.

Like anyone who steals or cheats or lies, she transfers her guilt to him and makes him the bad guy. I don't see where he'd have the time to cheat on her since he works full time, has his own business on the side and spends every free moment with her and her two kids. She doesn't work -- at least not in the conventional sense. She draws and has tried to sell her work to writers as illustrations and has even tried to get a couple of galleries interested in her work, but hasn't had a lot of luck. She did sell one painting to a greeting card company and it is doing well, but not enough to make a living. She claims he's unfocused and irresponsible and doesn't have a good work ethic, even though he's the one paying the bills and giving her everything she wants. His grandmother lived with him before she came into his life, but made room for her in the house, even moving in with his sister to keep from getting in the girlfriend's way. Her granddaughter doesn't have as much room, but my friend said she was glad to have her grandmother move in with her and her family. I'm beginning to think there is another story here somewhere.

I've heard about the screaming rages and the black depressions and how she decided she didn't like his roses and made him take them out to build her a Zen garden even though he has bred those roses for a long time, lavishing time and patience on them until they are the most beautiful roses you've ever seen. The yard was filled with their soft sweet scent all summer but now it's a different landscape with raked sand around boulders placed here and there in the tie-rod fenced area where the roses grew. I have nothing against tranquility, and it's not so much the change outside, as the change inside that makes me wonder how happy he could be. Little by little she has gotten rid of his plants, taken over his home office as her own and, since she is an atheist, made him dismantle his altar and meditation space because she wanted to expand "her" office. She is controlling every aspect of his life and is so obsessed with his best friend that he no longer calls her or spends any time with her.

One of our other friends stopped by when he saw the guy out in the yard playing badminton with her teenage daughter. It was a spur of the moment idea. She was polite and quiet while they talked but two days later when I ran into my friend he said she had thrown a fit and claimed the guy was sent to spy on them by his best friend. I knew that wasn't true because she was in Arizona with her sister and brothers for their father's funeral. She didn't now anything about it.

The thing is that I can't go to him and let him know what he's walked into because it's not my life. I'd like to put him on his guard, but I can't. It's his life and he's made his choices. He told me he has had second thoughts but he is so enmeshed in this situation he doesn't know how to get out. I don't think there is an easy way to get rid of someone who has infiltrated your life and your home so thoroughly without causing some major emotional -- and probably physical and property -- damage. He said she is irrational and might even be crazy and he's worried about the kids. He doesn't want to hurt them and he doesn't want to go through with the marriage because then she'll really have him by the short hairs. He's a nice guy in a bad situation. He's mentally, emotionally and verbally abused and there isn't anything I can say without causing more problems, so I listen and let him talk, hoping he will figure a way out. I have suggested he talk to a counselor because I'm not sure he'd believe me if I told him what I know, not because he'd think I was lying but because she has alienated every one of his friends and cut him off from all support. He's going to protect her even at the cost of his own peace of mind and his future.

I can say here what I can't say to him. She is a controlling, selfish, unstable narcissist who has burned everyone around her as soon as she had no further use for them. She comes off so nice and giving and thoughtful until you cross her or tell her the truth. She doesn't want the truth. She sees the world only as it fits her reality and she gets rid of or destroys anything that mars the perfect image she projects. People don't exist except as extensions of her ego and she is dangerous.

It hurts me to see him being sucked farther and farther into Charybdis's vortex with not even a bird to lead him through the straits, but unless he takes my hint and goes for counseling I'm afraid he's doomed. She has too strong a hold on him. I wonder now if there will be a wedding next month or if it will be postponed. I'm praying for a postponement to give him enough time to find a way out.

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