Before I met Monkey Boy, I was involved with someone I shall call Fuckhead (for that is what I call him) for 4 years. Fuckhead is a violent manic-depressive alcoholic. I knew about both the manic-depression and the alcoholism when I got involved with him. I learnt about the violence later. For most of our relationship, I tried to figure out ways of leaving. I was scared, both of him and of being alone for the first time in my life. I knew from the very begining that this would never work, but I felt like I owed him some sort of duty of care. No-one else wanted a thing to do with him; his mania and alcoholism had burnt almost all of his bridges. I was the only one left who was prepared to help him get the professional help he needed.
As time went on, it became increasingly apparent that there was no helping him. By this time, however, I was so emotionally battered that I didnt have the energy to fight anymore. I blamed myself and felt so stupid for having stayed so long in such truly horrible circumstances. Everyone says "If my partner ever hit me, I'd be out of there so fast..." blah blah blah. But the thing is, as with so many other major life events, you really have no idea how you'll react until you're faced with the situation. It has taken me another 4 years to come to terms with what happened to me and why I didnt just end the relationship when it was obviously a Very Bad Idea to stay in it.
Recently, with nothing much else to do, and a desire for whalebone corsets and crinoline, I've been devouring the classic novels. I've just finished the last of my Austens, and I'm now starting on the Bronte collection again. The current selection is Anne Bronte's The Tennant of Wildfell Hall.
Last night, after being woken by thunderstorms, I picked up the novel and began to read. The following passage struck me like the lightening that was striking the ground not so far from here. Nothing that I could write would be better able to elucidate how I felt during that relationship. Strangely, the writing of a devout Christian woman of elevated class, some 180 years ago, tells my story:
Since he and I are one, I so identify myself with him, that I feel his degradation, his failings, and transgressions as my own; I blush for him, I fear for him; I repent for him, weep, pray, and feel for him as for myself; but I cannot act for him; and hence, I must be and I am debased, contaminated by the union, both in my own eyes, and in the actual truth.
I am so determined to love him - so intensely anxious to excuse his errors, that I am continually dwelling upon them, and laboring to extenuate the loosest of his principles and the worst of his practices, till I am familiarised with vice and almost a partaker in his sins. Things that formerly shocked and disgusted me now seem only natural. I know then to be wrong, because reason...delares them to be so; but I am gradually losing that instinctive horror and repulsion which was given me by nature, or instiled into me...
Perhaps, then, I was too severe in my judgements, for I abhorred the sinner as well as the sin; now I flatter myself I am more charitable and considerate; but am I not becoming more indifferent and insensate too? Fool that I was to dream that I had strength and purity enough to save myself and him! Such vain presumption would be rightly served, if I should perish with him in the gulf from which I have sought to save him!
Thankyou, Miss Bronte, for showing me myself.