Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Way of the Coyote

Of course you feel sorry for him. It's easy to feel sorry for him. Especially when he talks, tears in his voice, about how his wife left him, moved to another state, how he never gets to see his daughter.

He drinks because he misses his daughter. He drinks because he still loves his wife. He drinks because there is nobody in the world who loves him. He drinks because he is so fundamentally unlovable.

What he does not tell you is that his (ex) wife has a restraining order. And although she has moved state and changed her name, she still looks over her shoulder when she goes out. And underneath her clothes there are scars that will not heal. No, he left that part out. You don't really need to know about that. Not until you get to know him. Not until you understand the circumstances, how it was, how she really left him no choice...

Your friends say watch out. They say there is something not quite right about this one. They say you don't need more drama in your life.

You say, come on. You say, have a heart. You stopper your ears because you know they are right. But you are already caught up in the unfolding. Cannot let go now.

He draws you in. Young, naive and frankly, too dumb to know better, you think you're Emily Dickinson:

If I could stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one life the aching
or cool one pain.

Arrogant really. What makes you think you can save the world? Or a single soul? You're a raw, wet-behind-the-ears kid from the right side of the tracks and you've never dealt with anything like this before. The lies, the prevarication, the cunning, the sudden violence, the heartbreaking apologies, the desperation:

"Please, please don't leave me, if you leave me, I'll die, I have nobody, I have nothing, and you know I love you, only you, I need you, please don't abandon me like she did."

So you stay. You tell yourself, one last chance, I'll give you one last chance, the next time you do this, that's it. But one last chance blooms into another and another. You stay. Because you cannot take the tears. And the suicide threats.

He controls you. You chafe at the chains. But you stay.

There is a breaking point of course. After which, you leave. And stop answering his calls. Block his email addresses. Take out your own restraining order.

It takes a while but eventually, he lets go. You'll become one of his stories. Like his ex-wife. To be told over a glass of Jack. To the next bleeding heart, save-the-world sucker.

The girl I loved who abandoned me.

And once you're out (oh, the blessed freedom) you wonder why you stayed. Why you put up with the fights and the jealousy and the control and the shattered glass when really, there was so much of life out there for you? If he was determined to die, the kindest thing you could have done was to let him get on with it. Even offer a few suggestions. (Herbicide, surefire way - just have to make sure you take enough, or you could linger for days)

Of course you look at men differently now. If they cry, you get up and walk away. If they cling, you get up and walk away. If they threaten suicide, you get up and walk away.

Deal with your own shit. I don't have time for this.


Susanna said...

We women are very prone to thinking we can be the rescuers. Well, I guess guys can do that too.

Usually, it ends up getting you hurt.

Don't let it happen again.

Nessa said...

The lessons we learn best are the lessons we've lived.

I think many of us have learned this one.

Charlene Amsden said...

What don't kill you, cures you.

I stayed in a verbally abuse relationship for years. I actually thought I was stupid -- hmmm, guess I was, but not the way he meant.

Had he hit me though, he would have had to kill me to stop me from coming back at him. I don't know what it is in me. I am a pacifist -- right up until I get hit, then I morph into a Viking Berzerker.

When I was in my bar-hopping 20's I knocked 3 people flat (different instances) with no recollection of my actions between their hitting me, and me standing over their prone bodies. My ex-husband said it was like watching Bruce Lee fight in my body. When I'm not angry and I try to hit someone I look more like a Don Knotts character.

Jenn said...

A thinker: It is a dumbness we are brought up with, a dumbness that such as he see and exploit. Never thought I would call a soft heart dumb, but now, it irritates me more than and out and out bastard.

Nessa: Yeah, I figured you would have, too.

Quilly: You don't know, but I find the idea of you beating the crap out of these bastards nothing short of inspirational. Now, I would have to hire someone to do it, part with a few thousand of my lifesavings, and specify which body parts I want cut up (and today, don't mess with me, I would too)

Jenn said...

For anyone else whose comments I have persistently rejected: Stay the fuck away from my site! I don't read before I reject. Neither your comments, nor your emails. You're not welcome here. Got it? Good.

lemontree said...

hey jenn
i often wonder what it would be like if we had the benefit of really being able to view our relatinships and what we put up with from a third person point of view. what we would and would not put up with, but then there would be no emotinal relationship, only a rational reality

Jenn said...

Yes, lemon, but there are limits. And if you have any self respect, you will impose these limits, no matter how much you think you love him. Some things are just not acceptable in any frame or context.

Charlene Amsden said...

Jenn, you are right.. It is a self-respect issue and far too many of us have far too little of that in the first place. Users pray on people with poor self-esteem. The good news is, as a rule those of us who work our way through and out of the relationship tend to gain wisdom, compassion and a higher value of our own self-worth.