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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dear Atomic Bombshell,

When I was 2 years old my grandparents arranged and paid for the adoption of an estranged newborn baby, by a couple who are close friends of our family. I have 9 boy cousins on my mother’s side of the family, but in reality we are more like brothers. Elizabeth grew up with all of us like she was part of our family, like a cousin. We had an amazing and close childhood, but life took us all in our separate directions, as it usually does. .
I hadn’t seen Elizabeth in three years, and when I went to her wedding I remember being floored by how stunningly beautiful she had become. She was no longer the wide-eyed tomboy with scuffed knees who would do anything on a triple-dog-dare. Although she was a star player on the men’s Lacrosse and Ice Hockley team at her college, she still managed to turn a room around when she walked into it. In her spare time between full-contact athletic games she managed to be elected Valedictorian of her class – allowing her to continue her education towards a Masters degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Elizabeth moved to Washington DC to be close to her husband’s new job. Two more years passed before I saw her again at my cousins wedding, one week ago. She was alone. I was alone. Like we were in high school again, we immediately became each others back-up dates. We had a beach house for the weekend and all the cousins hung out and got drunk and caught up on each others lives. Elizabeth and I took a walk on the beach and she unloaded the hardships of her marriage on me like a ton of bricks. Her husband had turned into something of a dick after then got married, and to make matters worse he hadn’t touched her in five months. When I hugged her she burst into tears. This is the girl who knocked out the Quarterback of her College football team with one square punch to the jaw. The slightest bit of sincerity and human touch broke her like glass. For the rest of the weekend we were inseparable. It was like we were kids again at the beach, summer in full swing, just trying to stretch the days out forever.
Elizabeth made plans to come see me in Philly the next week while she took classes right up the street from my apartment. It was so easy it couldn’t be helped. She was hiding from her life in DC with her husband, and I knew it, but I didn’t fight it. Saturday night she came into the city for a bachelorette party and on Sunday she came over to my apartment. We went out and had one of the best Sunday afternoons of our lives. We forgot that what we were both thinking was wrong on so many levels. She slept over. But this time we weren’t 12 years old in a tent in the back yard, no, this time we were both old enough to know what that feeling was in the pit of our stomachs. I kissed her and she moved into me like it was always meant to happen. We kissed and held each other and talked about everything and nothing until the sun came up. It felt like home.
How could something that is so wrong, ever end up right? This girl is like family to me, and I’m giving her another reason to give up on her marriage. My family and her family are quite religious. Her father was my bible professor in high school and he played basketball in college with father. Because of their Christian beliefs, divorce is not an option to my family. Elizabeth was well on the road towards divorce when she showed up to my cousins wedding alone, but to anyone, now it looks like I’m to blame.
Elizabeth was always expected to marry one of the cousins – everyone hoped that she would become officially part of her unofficial family, but she didn’t. Now we’re at a point where I don’t know how people will react if this gets out. It’s completely conceivable that both of our entire families will be ecstatic at the idea of Elizabeth finally being a true relation, but it’s also completely conceivable that I’ll be chastised and condemned by everyone for making Elizabeth’s struggling marriage virtually unsalvageable.
Am I a scumbag? I know she’s vulnerable right now, and I know she’s in dire need of someone to reassure her of all the things that her husband had begun to make her doubt. Am I wrong for being that rock for her to hold on to, even if in doing so I become the very rock that has her pinned against a hard place?

Dear Andrew,

Scumbag? Hmmmmm.. If you do the right thing, No. What you really need to do is put your own needs aside and just continue to be there for her. Be her rock (as you put it). She needs to find her own way through this and no one can really make her come to a conclusion except her. You should definitely stand by whatever decision she makes and not try to sway her in anyway. With all the pressures of family, religion, etc, something like this could take months. Be the one person who doesn't make her feel pressured. Even if you think the husband is a total tool, don't push her into anything she is not ready for. Be prepared for an extremely emotional time, so try not to get too entangled in the moment. I just thinks it's best to continue supporting her and try not to make any waves in the family until she makes her final decision. I know it's easier said than done. If you truly care for her, you will do the right thing.

Atomic Bombshell.