You know what I’ve been thinking about the past few days? How there’s a difference between careless behavior and cruel behavior. Both are hurtful, but part of the cruelty is often them pretending they’re just being careless. And you wonder: Have they been this cruel before? Will they go on to be cruel to others? Or maybe it was just you. I don’t know what’s worse–feeling like you inspired cruelty in someone or that you aligned with a serial abuser.
There’s this memoir called Not Exactly Love about a woman who is abused by her husband. They break up and then years later he remarried and the two of them have lunch and she asks him do you do it to her too? And he breaks down so apologetically like omg no and I’m so sorry for what I did to you. And in the novel A Little Life the main character, Jude, is tortured by so many people in his life and his luck seems to be that they always die within a few years of the events. So there’s peace in knowing no one else is being terrorized by them.
It’s so wild how trauma plays out in our lives. It never ends, even after it’s over. You’re still stuck feeling guilty for leaving, guilty for staying, guilty that you were ever involved. Angry at the person, angry at yourself, angry at the situation. Sad all around. Hopeful that it’ll never happen again. Fearful that it’s not really over. Like it all feels so very personal. But it’s not just you. These patterns are a part of the human experience, and that person is human too.
-Rachel Wagner 2021
Other relevant pieces by me: Healing is such a process & Self-soothing is 4 suckers & Ya girl got anger issues & Nabokovian Desire in Sex Me: Confessions of Daddy’s Little Freak
My bookstore: Ten Dollar Books