Let’s say, you meet a guy. He’s older, confident, appears financially stable. He praises you for your independence, your spirit. He treats you as if the two of you are going to build your own empire — the King and Queen reigning together. Soon, you don’t have to worry about things like bills, insurance or taxes. You have a child together, and the years sweep past.
The fracture in the relationship begins subtly, like a chip in the windshield. But as you travel on, the cracks branch out, until you can’t see the road anymore.
You realize his confidence is arrogance. His money is your prison. His reputation, the chain to your independence.
You bury your spirit and hope it stays alive.
You have no voice, no name, no identity that’s not tied to him.
But you patch up the facade, as best you can, because people are watching — the kids are watching.
This might not be Melania’s story — but it is mine.
At first, I scoffed at her interviews, so awkward, repeating things tailored for her like a suit; and like a “good” wife, trying to explain away the outrageous things her husband has said and done.
I used to do that too: to tell people they had taken his words out of context. To tell them “He didn’t mean it that way.” Or the un-apology: “We all make mistakes.”
But after watching innaguration footage, in which she was so uncomfortable and her husband so dismissive, I can’t help but feel sorry for her.
People will counter, “Well, that’s what Melania gets by marrying Trump.”
Just because a person walks blindly past the warning signs does not mean I can laugh as she stumbles at the edge of the cliff.
Maybe you’ll say I’m imposing my experience onto Melania.
I probably am. Melania and I aren’t exactly besties. I cannot say I even respect the woman’s accomplishments.
But I also know how it feels to be utterly shocked and dismayed with a person you once trusted completely.
I hope that my extreme disgust for Trump isn’t coloring these thoughts, and that Melania is truly happy. I would wish that for any person — even if I don’t agree with her life choices.
But when I saw how the couple interacted at the inauguration events, it seemed more than stress and nerves written on her face. The situation felt eerily familiar. A grander scale of the horrific things that occur quietly in good “Christian” marriages throughout middle-class America.
If you are miserable inside, uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter. You just keep smiling for the cameras.
I was lucky. I was able to leave. But it took years. It took my children pointing out to me what had been decaying behind the facade all along.
Please, don’t ask why I didn’t leave sooner.
I did exactly what I thought I had to do in my situation.
That’s all we can expect from anyone.
So, I’m putting the rocks back down in the dirt where they belong.
I can protest the president and his policies. I can be outraged by his administration. I can be frightened for the future of this world. But I’m not going to take aim at Melania anymore.
She’s doing what she thinks she has to.
I can’t criticize her for that.