“You made me hit you in the face,” he said mournfully. “Now everyone is going to know.” “I know,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
Kelly Sundberg spent 10 years with a man who emotionally and physically abused her, used their son to control her, and isolated her from anyone who might be able to help. She talks about falling in love with him, and how wonderful he was with their son, and how much the community around them loved him. It’s heart-wrenching, watching her try to convince herself things would get better, and that leaving would be the worst thing she could do.
Sundberg spends a lot of time examining her childhood and upbringing, and how that contributed to her belief that she needed to stay in such a terrible situation. Raised in a tiny community in Idaho where you listened to your father and remained loyal to the church no matter what, she never felt she had anyone she could turn to when she was in trouble.
Relationships are not black and white. It’s easy to look back at your own or out at someone else’s and pinpoint where things went wrong. It’s easy to say “well you should have just left”. Being in it, aware that other people are seeing a happy family while you’re dying behind closed doors, is different. Trying to reconcile the good times with the very bad times. Sundberg writes her story beautifully, with many shades of grey, and I imagine that was incredibly difficult for her.