Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Guest Blogger! The Beginning—​Red Flags

I'm welcoming guest blogs by family and friends who know me best! My first guest blogger is my dear friend, Kaysha, who wanted to share her thoughts and feelings about what she saw early on in my relationship with Tom. We texted yesterday after she emailed me her blog, and the one thing that sticks with me is that she, too, felt some of his behaviors were "off" and bizarre--but emotional abuse is tough to see. I'm so touched that she took the time to write this. It did bring me to tears, yet helps me so much. Thank you, Kaysha, and love you tons!
I am one of Kate's good friend's from D.C. We met each other at work about 15 or so years ago (eek, that long ago?). 
Kaysha and her daughter, Vivienne, and their dog, Zoe
I was friends with her when she was dating her ex-husband, when she was pregnant with her first child (in fact, I threw her a baby shower for him), and then the end of that marriage. We spent 9/11 together at my house, amongst many other of our good friends. Kate always speaks her mind, has a fantastic sense of humor, makes friends easily, never puts up with bullshit, and stands up for her friends and for what she believes is right. She is one of my closest friends, although geography has gotten in the way of how often we see one another.
Just a little background about me, I feel that this is quite relevant to what happened with Kate. For a few years, as a child, my mother was married to a man who was physically, mentally, and financially abusive to her. I witnessed a lot of this abuse from the time I was 5 until I was 9 (as I lived with them at the time), when my mother finally left her abuser. 
I watched her go to work wearing sunglasses, with apparently no one noticing the black eyes, or, more likely, no one having the bravery to mention it and ask if she needed help. Each payday my mother surrendered both her paycheck and checkbook to my stepfather (along with her car keys). We literally lived in a log cabin at the end of a mile or more long driveway so that we could be isolated from our family, friends, and even neighbors. If my mother wanted to drive the car and/or buy something, she had to ask my stepfather for permission and had to have proof and very good reasons to back such expeditions up. 
I witnessed much of the physical abuse (the log cabin was only one room, hard to miss anything there). I remember one night (before we lived in the log cabin) being woken up by my trembling 80 pound dog as my stepfather screamed and hacked his way into their locked bedroom door with a knife. My dog and I silently tip-toed back to my room and shut the door as quietly as possible and lay there the rest of the night hoping that he wouldn't try to come into my room. Anyway, my mother finally found the courage to leave him, and luckily she had a supportive family that we were able to live with until she could get back on to her feet.
I first met Tom the day of my baby shower. Kate was one of the hostesses for my shower. Everyone was atwitter about him. You see, it was a male/female baby shower, but it was exactly one week after Kate and Tom's first date. What kind of guy willingly goes to a baby shower for someone he doesn't even know? Many people were asking this, and the answers varied from "A great guy" to "A guy with no life." No one thought it was a red flag, but it certainly was unusual. I didn't realize then that that was also the last time I would see Kate without Tom until she finally left him. This is really important to point out. From that day on, I never saw Kate without Tom. No girls' nights out, nothing.
I think another thing about Tom that put people off was his teeth. He was very handsome, but his teeth were unnaturally blindingly white. It was weird. It put me off, but again, it was something that was hard to say made him a bad choice for Kate. Again, he was handsome, and maybe his (unnaturally) white teeth made him even more so to Kate. It seemed a bit odd to me that a man would spend so much energy on his looks, but who knows, maybe they were naturally that white? No way in hell.
Things moved pretty quickly with Tom and Kate. Again, Kate is a passionate person, so although I felt a little concern for how quickly things moved, I didn't really think it was a red flag. Kate was a single mom and met this guy who seemed totally into her, so why not let her enjoy that? She deserved to be loved. And she was no pushover, she always stood up for herself.
When Tom had his motorcycle accident, I went to visit them at the hospital. Let me say at this point, this is something that I did as Kate's friend. As far as Tom goes, I had been around him and Kate several times at this point, but felt no affinity towards him except for that Kate cared for him and I wanted to be there for her. Not that I disliked Tom, but I just never got much of sense from him at all. I am a very warm, friendly, huggy person, almost to a fault the person who likes to give people the benefit of the doubt. I didn't have misgivings about him, but I felt no warmth. And I certainly noticed that I seemed to be one of very few people that actually visited Tom when he was in the hospital. Also, Kate and I took a walk at some point and that is when she told me that he had a bad reaction to his meds and snapped and yelled at her. I remember asking her how that was possible. I had heard about people having allergic reactions to meds, but never getting mean on them. I even remember going home and doing a rudimentary Google on it and coming up with a page similar to this:

Again, I felt like I should mention this again to Kate, but she was so happy with him, and then BAM, before I got a chance, she called me and told me that he asked her to marry him in the hospital.
Again, red flags popped up everywhere in my head. Why in the hospital? So unromantic really, I mean he asked her to get the ring and bring it to him. And why so quickly? Why couldn't he wait till he healed at least and really surprise her and maybe get down on his knees?
I go over these feelings I have and others that I plan to share later, and I feel like I let Kate down as a friend. I saw these things but didn't share them with her because I didn't want to rain on her parade. Also, not only did I fail Kate as a friend, but it made me question myself and tendencies to give people the benefit of the doubt, over and over again. In the past it has mostly affected only me, and nothing so painful as this (the worst I can think of that happened to me was my $5,000 boyfriend, but that's a whole other story that has to do with me losing only a little pride and a lot of money). But after this I want to make a promise to myself and my friends that I will be more truthful and look out for red flags and call them as I see them. 
I promise myself and my friends that when I have a gut feeling or see red flags, I will react (when it has to do with myself) and I will share my concerns (when it has to do with my friends). That is what friends are for (and I deserve that as well). I don't know how Kate would have reacted had I shared my concerns at the time, but I know she would have continued to be my friend, and if there is the slightest possibility that by having that conversation, Kate would have gone in a different direction, away from that man, then it would have been well worth it. We'll never know.

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