More often than not, the emotional response I have to TV shows is more a mild sadness when I see things like the “Malec” episode of Shadowhunters – no spoilers, but there was a romantic resolution. It’s the whole feeling, when you’re recovering from a very unhealthy relationship, of “why couldn’t we have fixed things?”
Well, this one didn’t trigger that.
And it wasn’t about the 2-dimensional, stereotypical treatment of “men’s rights” groups, nor the 2-dimensional, stereotypical treatment of “women’s rights” groups.
One of the long time cast members was permanently injured. And his excuse for treating his wife like shit was to say damned near word-for-word the same shit my ex used to say. When your partner stands up and says, “look, I understand you have it hard. But nothing excuses you taking out your rage on me” and you respond with: “If you think this is bad, you should see how much I’m holding back! This is nothing.”
You know, I feel rage at times. I get those same homicidal urges that he used to talk about, and occasionally act like the only thing keeping him from acting on them was that he couldn’t do that to us, his “wives.”
Do you know what I do when I get into that mindset? When I am so enraged that even my dog or my sister – who I would NEVER do anything to hurt, and who have both been NOTHING but loving and keeping me sane these past two years – looks like a potential victim?
I get the fuck away from EVERYTHING. I withdraw myself from ABSOLUTELY anything that I could possibly hurt or damage. I even withdraw myself from the public, because all it would take is ONE asshole verbally abusing someone else for me to just completely lose it.
I sit with the rage. I look at it. I feel it. I work through it. But I do NOT ever use it as an excuse to abuse anyone or anything. I do NOT use it as an excuse to break shit.
So, here is this actor sitting in a wheelchair, repeating WORD-FOR-FUCKING-WORD the same phrases that my ex used to say to me, and suddenly I’m right fucking back in every single one of those damned memories. I’m feeling all of the fear, all of the anger, all of the betrayal.
You can bet I shut that show down IMMEDIATELY.
But it doesn’t stop the thoughts. It doesn’t stop the emotions. It doesn’t stop the desire to scream at the screen like somehow this actor (or more honestly, the character) can hear me. That I can scream to the character the words I could never seem to say to my ex.
One of the things I learned from living in ghetto areas was just exactly how much rage, hatred and blind homicidal desire for blood can hit someone. For me, it puts me into a very psychopathic place. And yes, I mean psychopathic, not sociopathic. In that mindset, I lose all empathy. I lose all sense of remorse. I lose all sense of right and wrong. And those rules of courtesy that I try to live by? Completely go out the window, leaving me in a very disinhibited state.
But, I’ve taught myself that unless I am in a life-or-death situation that I HAVE to isolate. I have to go on the automatic reactions I’ve forced myself to learn. I have to get away until I come back out of that mindset.
Because unlike some people who claim to have a blackout when they are enraged, I remember every moment with crystal clarity. And it is myself that I am protecting in that situation, because my compassion for others in that place is completely gone. I refuse to destroy my life for the momentary joy of hurting the person who put me into that headspace.
Maybe that doesn’t make me a “real” psychopath. But, it’s close enough for me.
But the ONE thing the ex could never quite do was enrage me to that point. Not until the last day I spoke to him with any kind of love or care in my voice. And since I was up here in Cumberland, isolating was easy – I hung up the damned phone after telling him he didn’t get to abuse me anymore. And I was just as cold to the other woman – the only remaining “wife” he has. I told her that he had made the decision to abuse, and that for my own health I needed to end it. That it was HER choice to either remain with him, or move on – since she knew damned well just how abusive his actions had been. And even then, it was only a momentary dip into that mindspace. It was nothing more than dipping a toe into it.
I have experienced quite a few of those memory-records since then, and the rage associated with it. It’s part of why I continue to isolate myself in many ways. Until I can trust my control around drama queens and manipulative assholes, I’m not ready to return to a full-bore interaction with the outside world.
Small groups or one-on-one interactions are fine. The only real place I’m willing to try out is Convergence, because I know that there is a HUGE group of people I can trust to keep me in check, or keep me distracted. And even that isn’t for at least another 2 months, which means I have a bit more time to rebuild some of that self-control for my own sake.
It’s a challenge in one other way. I’m not the only one who goes there as often as can be afforded. My ex will be there. But, I know we have radically different interests at the convention. I have no intention of going anywhere that I know he will be. And I doubt he will try to find me either. But, now, after two years, I think I can see him across a crowded hotel and not react inappropriately.