“Why didn’t you leave your husband?”
That's the first question many Americans have for Huma Abedin, the vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for president, and perhaps more famously, the former spouse of the chronically disgraced and often-reviled former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.
But that question reveals shallow thinking and a lack of empathy for Abedin’s position — to be in love with someone, to be carrying their child, and to be so publicly, painfully betrayed. It’s complicated. You can love someone who has done terrible things.
After reading her new book “Both/And: A Life In Many Worlds” and interviewing her on “Morning Joe” Tuesday, it’s clear Abedin has struggled with her relationship. It almost ruined her.
Her situation was certainly messy. She doesn't hide that. She really struggled throughout her husband’s multiple texting scandals, and as he served 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor.
But this isn’t simply a story of pain. There are some incredible lessons about relationships and friendships young women can learn from Abedin, who is now finalizing her divorce from Weiner as they raise their 9-year-old son together.
One obvious lesson is that life, love, family, friendships and marriage are hard. These relationships aren’t black and white. And caring about a person who has done something awful is not the same as endorsing their awful acts.
The same concept applies to friendships and family members too. It’s impossible to erase a person from your life. In fact, sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile to save the relationship. These are personal decisions. Abedin was generous to let us in.
“Allow yourself to feel,” Abedin told me when I asked her to share her advice to young women who are facing betrayal. She added, “I think for me, I shut myself off. I was so angry and so bitter. I think that anger and bitterness only hurt myself.”
Personal grace is a powerful thing, and so is giving yourself space to process your own feelings and needs. “It’s a constant work in progress,” she told me. “Don’t forget about yourself. Take care of yourself and don’t blame yourself. There is another side.”
Abedin will have a next act. She is an extremely driven woman, even as she is still haunted by her husband's transgressions and the exceedingly public way they were revealed. Despite it all, this is a woman who wants to be part of America’s future, even if it means putting herself out there in a painful way. And that is to be applauded.