the blog

Episode: Woe is Me

One persistent “delusion,” and I use the word lightly, as delusions are meant to be spontaneous, not intentionally caused, and so I cannot rightly call it what it isn’t quite, is that of being on some sort of TV show. “Evil” they called this “season,” and it was meant to carry the theme of shared responsibility. The fake website made by fake critics read something like, “We’re reminded of our moral fragility, that we cannot be good unless others are doing their part.”

There are certain elements of my reality that make this false one seem plausible, the foremost being everything about Brian. This man is so infuriating on so many levels that it’s impossible he’s not paid to be so. Presently, for example, I need a break from him, from the constant, endless accusations and persistent neuroses and he won’t just fucking close the bedroom door.

He’s been wandering all day, every day, and every night for half the night, coming into whatever room I am in to deliver stress and start more fights. It’s not enough to say, “Enough,” and I’ve given the same answer a dozen times to whatever inquiry or concern he has this time. He’ll stand there holding up his feelings, or justifications, or one of my imaginary sins until I scream him out the door, which even locked can’t stop his voice. Only the threat of homelessness can accomplish that. 

He doesn’t do this once and recover and let me recover for a while. He’ll knock again in twenty minutes, pretending to be sorry, and then scream and call me names if I remind him to get lost. If the door is locked, he’ll accuse me of fucking someone I smuggled in through the widow. I’ll shoo him away by implying that if he doesn’t go, he’ll lose his place to stay, and he’ll be back within the hour to make me want to kill one of us some more. 

He’s passive aggressive, so whenever I sleep without him present, he waits just until I’ve slipped into a dream before he starts banging around the bathroom and muttering imperceptible frustrations out loud. It won’t be the first time in the last twenty-four hours he’s kept me awake, so I’ll be furious, and the resentment he’s collected for himself makes every successive altercation more vile. I have lost the ability to stay my tongue and I cut into him until he’s cut the fuck down and the guilt corrodes the bottom of my stomach while the rage pummels my chest and I feel simultaneously villainous and justified, and helpless either way to behave otherwise.

I reduce him to tears or to laying on the floor so as not to make noise. In an hour, he’ll come ask to sleep in my room and flip out and call me names when I say no. You make me dread being near you. I’m confined to my bedroom while you have the run of my house, smoking my cigarettes and sprawling out on my couch, which folds out into a second bed by the way. I’ve sacrificed three quarters of the apartment I’ve hoped and worked for, trying to be a decent person to you and salvage some of the peace you suck out of the air like a vampire. I lock myself in my bedroom in my own fucking house, just for you, so I can still breathe while providing everything you need. I foot the bill, pay your whole way, so you can dedicate all your time to harassing me. You can sleep on the couch.

He incites so severe a reaction, and so callous a response, that if it were not for the certainty of manifestations elsewhere, I would reconsider my ex-husband’s candidacy for covert narcissism. I used to be just like Brian, inexhaustibly needy, but not inviting of care. Hostile, accusatory, demanding, rejecting, demanding of more. Impossible to reassure, but perpetually seeking reassurance in abrasive, abusive ways, calling to question my partner’s affections or fidelity or integrity so they’d argue the opposite until I felt more secure. I knew that it was toxic, thanks to an ex who told me so a few years ago, but I had no idea what this was like from the other end. No fucking wonder Adam divorced me. I’m impressed he stuck it out for six years. 

By the end, when he’s crying, I don’t care anymore. I want him gone; I need him gone before I fucking lose my mind. You don’t get to abuse with absolution, no one who you treat this way is going to be kind to you. I am slow to anger and slow to climb down from my moral high horse, but you push me to the goddamned edge. I’ve practically torn off the saddle with my fervid dismount, raging and tripping over my feet for the figurative pleasure of feeling my hand print its shape in red on your cheek. Whatever I loved of you is dead inside that head. I can’t fucking stand the man that’s left. 

It’s a whole new Brian this season, as promised, he’s not the same guy anymore. He’s shelved his quickness for violence in hopes of earning a badge from the masturbation police. So attuned is he to the vibrator’s sound that he hears it when it’s not around. Confusingly, it never is. Must be cheating the, he says, though again I’m innocent.

In order to maintain the self-deluded lie that he has really changed, he’s mastered the art of not-starting the fights that inevitably break out when he opens his mouth. Rather than overtly yell, or explicitly insult, he makes obscene requests or burdensome demands of my emotional resources. When I resist, he “defends” himself.

Shared responsibility indeed. What it means for everyone to do their part, I’ve no idea, but if you’re the guy tasked with determining what, from the others, each one of us is owed, (and therefore what we owe ourselves), I’d add this: It is our social obligation to manage our own feelings and to filter our own thoughts so that those which are paranoid or infantile or not supported by reason be kept from reaching our mouths. 

I share all of the blame on this season of Evil with real occurrences of myself, sometimes manifest as you. There is the you that caused me pain in the past, which I have become by the hand of the “I was” that he is now. There is the I was that incites in me your evil presently. To forgive what “I was” has made me, if I’d not already done, I’d have to forgive you too. Fortunately, we’re past that. But now I also understand. 

I’m sorry for this, Brian. I am. I’m sorry that I am to you who others were to me, I’m sorry that you suffer internally as I once did. Years before you came along, the harm I knew I caused inspired me to alter my behavior. When I did, my internal world was also changed, and my pain alleviated. So as I learn once more how to be better than myself, I suggest you take my lead and do the same. No more apologies, no more explanations, no more putting your weight on me. It’s time for you to go, and it’s time for you to grow.

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