It Turns out There Is a Down Side to Being a Woman
I once believed the ‘good ole boys club’ was a thing of folklore. A long-forgotten mentality that unionized men simply on the basis of gender.
I had never experienced inequality, setbacks, or been mistreated simply because I was a woman.
Did I believe there were still a few ‘ole boys’ in existence? Certainly. But I believed their numbers had been driven near extinction.
You may wonder how I found their network but I did. And it was alive and well with tight and simple club rules. Guys take care of guys, guys cover for guys, guys help guys stay on top.
I had unknowingly stumbled upon them.
It seems in this uber traditional marital life I was living, I had become the ‘wife.’ A serious yet dubious gender distinction or what the ‘good ole boys’ might label an affliction.
This wife is strong and independent. I am a leader with great self-respect. Hence, why the following words are an egregious and serious conflict of interest — I am also the victim of severe emotional and financial abuse.
Initiated by a man I once called the love of my life and worsened by an archaic mentality.
Divorce as I say, ‘is no excuse for abuse.’
Yet I could never have imagined the heartbreaking reality which would accompany it.
Men I loved and once-respected felt there were sides. To be clear, there are no sides. There are children. I will further that by adding in cases of abuse there definitely are not sides.
But otherwise good men would look the other way.
I was devastated. When did I merge from woman, friend, and human being?
To a gender-specific title that in the wrong hands seemed to make me vulnerable. Add to that, the stay at home mother and I was shark bait. Easy pickins.
They made their presence known when I initiated my divorce.
My husband began inflicting shared tactics he and the other ‘ole boys’ had devised. He stopped paying the mortgage, various bills and did other fun things like withhold grocery and school supplies money, cut off electricity, and so much more.
Within months of retaining my lawyer, I was living nearly daily in the throws of severe emotional and financial abuse.
I would solve one problem and my husband would create another. The constant chaos and unpredictability kept sleep at bay and made it nearly impossible to concentrate. Fear overwhelmed me. What would my husband do next?
My children struggled and suffered.
They did not understand a father willing to hurt them to win.
It seems some of the ‘good ole boys’ in my husband’s business had devised a fairly stellar plan for leaving their wives with no savings, no retirement, ruining their credit to reinforce their supposed ‘lack’ of funds, and much more. And since they were all able to classify themselves as self-employed it worked well for them. Hiding the money and all.
But here is where the truly disillusioning part steps in.
A strong woman rarely asks for help.
For the first time in my life, I was desperate for assistance.
I begged men who were close to my husband to talk to him. I asked them to please urge him to finalize our divorce. To stop the abusive games. I told them my children were not doing well. I told them I was not doing well. I told them no child should experience years and years of divorce.
I cried, I called, I texted…and nothing.
Even worse, I shared with a few how afraid I had become of my husband.
It was hard not to fear a man who was willing to hurt his own children to hurt his wife. A man who was clearly willing to operate far outside of societal boundaries with no empathy or remorse.
Even otherwise good men looked the other way because of some outrageous bro code. Men I knew would never inflict this kind of harm on a woman but because I was the ‘wife’ or because the other ‘bro’s’ wouldn’t understand they remained silent.
I often wonder if these same men would ignore a man who was beating a woman and children?
Yet, they sat quietly while a woman and her beautiful children endured five years of emotional and financial abuse. To the destruction of their family. Children who watched their mother morph into someone who was stressed, sleep-deprived, and yelling as they acted out their own pain.
It seems they didn’t want to get involved.
I come from a family of first responders. Individuals that are brave and selfless leaders, who care enough about the common man to risk their own lives.
I’m sure the ‘good ole boys’ will expect to be rescued. I’m sure they will expect even strangers to get involved to save them if necessary.
I may have been victimized but I do not identify with being a victim.
This is not the story I wanted to tell.
This is not the story I wanted to live.
I am a strong woman. And because of that, I have come forward to tell my truth because if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
My downfall was being a woman, a wife, a stay at home mother — who made herself financially vulnerable and unwittingly adopted a moniker known to turn the wrong men into a tribe. Cast as the ‘wife’ by a group of men who once called me ‘friend.’
Gender does not preclude an individual from right versus wrong.
It certainly should not be an excuse for bad behavior nor for ignoring bad behavior.
And there is a difference between divorce and abuse.
The abuser is abusive.
Yet, if just one of the ‘good ole boys’ had stepped forward. Just one. If they had walked away from the ‘bro code’ and the others. It may have stopped the abuse.
Because in simpler terms this is what happened in my life.
A man aggressively bullied a woman and children. And we know bullies are weak. They only assert their power when no one is guarding the playground.
If just one of the ‘ole boys’ chose right and wrong over being a man…
But they didn’t.
All because my husband existed in their ‘club.’ A torturous mentality that unionizes men based simply on gender.
And the mistaken belief that we play roles in life such as husband and wife rather than beautiful human beings.