Underneath my yellow skin

Piercing the veil

I was re-watching a video with two people who are a couple (from different websites), but didn’t announce it until they were together for a year. There were so many messages to them on Twitter gasping in delight (and shock) that they were able to hide it so well.

Except, they didn’t. The first video with the both of them (included in this post)that I saw, I immediately thought, “They’re bonking.” This might have been before they officially hooked up, but it was just so obvious to me. Have a look and see if you can tell. It was just a flash of thought and I did not dwell on it, but something about the way they were bantering screamed ‘couple’ to me.

I’ve always had this ability to read people–and it’s more a negative than a plus. It’s one reason I prefer being on my own The inundation of unwanted emotions from other people was always getting in the way of day-to-day life.

It’s a question of chicken and egg to an extent. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t responsible for my parents’ emotions, which meant that I had to attune my sensitivity radar to eleven to make sure I never made a misstep. My father was the only one allowed to have big emotions whereas my mother couldn’t stop whining in my ear since I was eleven. I really struggle with the concept that we can’t hold the victims of abuse responsible for their own actions when they in turn abuse other people, including their children.

There’s a letter to Ask A Manager about a woman who was being abused, given the name ‘Jane’. In order to talk to the cops, she framed her coworker, named….ah, Mary? Sandra? Let’s say Mary for fraud. The cops came and arrested Mary, who was forced to move out of her house and in with her father because of the turmoil. It was Jane’s manager who wrote in–and it was an investment firm so fraud is a big deal. oh, and the husband, ‘Joe’, worked at the firm as well–and after the investigation, Joe was arrested, but Mary’s life was in tatters. She wanted to know how to deal with the situation.

And I just lost a chunk of time because I reread the comments to make sure they said what I had remembered they said before continuing. I had thought that maybe 20% of the comments were in the ‘you can’t blame an abused person for anything they’ve done while in distress’ variety, but it was much less than that. So, yeah, proof that my brain twists things to the negative, if I needed it. There were plenty who explained why Jane did what she did and who may not have thought she should face consequences for what she did, but very few people said she was not responsible for her actions. There were a few, including one who actually said that an abused person had no independent agency by definition, which, just no.

Because the logical conclusion of that is that an abused person can kill a random person if they truly thought that was what it would take to get them out of an abusive relationship if you go down that road far enough. And some people did say that if they were dying, they could see killing someone else if that meant they lived. Which, I can get, but this was not impulsive. Jane had to plan the ‘fraud’ over some time and execute it. That’s what got several people including me tripped up. I could understand to some extent if she, say, went into a coworker’s purse and stole all the money the coworker had (assuming she had any. Nobody carries cash these days). Or even crashed a company car into the police station to get their attention. But what she did was cold and calculating , and it took time.

More to the point, it doing what she did made her an abuser because she abused Mary, someone who lost her home, her job, her reputation, and everything tangentially related. And while I know that abuse fucks with your brain, you still have choices to make. One person said when she was in an abusive relationship, if she had chosen to do what Jane did, it would have been with the knowledge that she would deal with the consequences afterwards. Which, I agree. If I do the crime, so to speak, then I do the time. Because, again, otherwise what’s to stop her from doing even more heinous things?

Which is where I was stuck Someone tried to argue that if she had been a good employee until that time, then one (even really bad) incident under duress shouldn’t change how you treat her. But how could it not? And how could you guarantee she wouldn’t do it again if similarly under distress one more time? And if she truly can’t control it, that makes her even more untrustworthy for her coworkers.

Here’s an uncomfortable truth. A wounded animal will lash out at anyone within distance. There is no friend or foe; there is only danger. My brother was over and we were having a good discussion when he said something about my father that was completely innocuous, but touched on a nerve. My whole body flushed as I felt the rage build in me. I tried to hold it back, but I could not. I snapped at him with an intensity that made me uncomfortable. I should not have unleashed on him, but that was my defense mechanism kicking in.

Here’s another uncomfortable truth. Abuse warps you. And, sometimes, it can be very ugly. There are parts of me that I really don’t like that were shaped by the abuse I’ve suffered. And I would say that the way I reacted towards my brother was creeping towards abusive. I know that I can be intimidating with a glare that could freeze fire.

It’s not pretty, but I can’t deny it, either. I see sparks of my father in me, and I hate myself for it. I also see parts of my mother in me, which is equally distasteful. There’s a reason it’s called the cycle of abuse. When it’s all you know, it’s hard not to duplicate it. My father’s temper, his prickliness, and his stony silence. My mother’s whininess, her ability to lie about situations (and fool herself), and her emotional manipulation. I see all that in me. I don’t like it, but it’s there.

It’s easy to say that the abuser is bad and the person being abused is good, but life isn’t that cut and dry. In the case of my mother, she is both abused (by my father) and abuser (my brother and me0. And there are times when I act abusively towards her as well. But not nearly as much as she abuses me. If you want to say that the victim is good and the abuser is bad, well, it wouldn’t work in this case–except my father. He’s definitely the abuser 95% of the time with 5% of my mother being controlling towards him.

It’s a hot mess, and it doesn’t do the situation any favors by grossly simplifying matters. I don’t have the answers, obviously, but the least I can do is keep trying to figure it out.


ETA: Oh, wow. I went waaaay far afield on this one from the first paragraph. I’ll get back to that in a future post.

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