I want to talk about the forms of abuse that people might be subjected to: and while it’s probably easier to recognize the signs and reasons and manifestations of physical abuse, it’s not really so easy to do the same for things like emotional abuse, and the kinds of subtle hurting that can take place within different kinds of relationships.
Like, yes, it’s often true that a person who will not listen to your concerns — and particularly if those concerns are about that person and their behavior and their treatment of you — is probably going to wind up really not caring about whether your concerns are addressed or not. If they don’t listen to you when you say, “Could you maybe please help me do the dishes?” they may well wind up not listening to you when you say, “The things that you are doing to me hurt me.”
And if the general response to this kind of concern is, “Yes, it’s all my fault, I am a monster, please care for me” — well, I think that the other person might have problems, and that you might not be the best person to help them solve those problems.
Also: the stark contrast between two and sometimes three sets of Holmes and Watson. Yes, as in Sherlock and John, or in my case, Joan.
The BBC version, with Cumberbatch and Freeman, depicts a friendship that quickly turns abusive and manipulative — I mean, just the first day in that lab is the prime example. Sherlock is at the microscope doing science, and his phone goes off, and he asks John to get the phone — but the phone is in Sherlock’s own jacket pocket, and Sherlock is wearing the jacket. This Watson enables this Sherlock’s assholery by reaching into the aforementioned pocket and extracting the phone for Sherlock to use, which sends a signal that, basically, Sherlock can and will inconvenience or outright hurt Watson just so Sherlock can continue on his merry way through the world, without inconvenience or hurt, because he is forcing Watson to be his shield and his defense against those things.
The Elementary version, with Miller and Liu, depicts an actual friendship between two human beings with their own agency in the world. Living together in the brownstone, the first few days sees Joan making a pot of coffee for the two of them to share, and she tells him that the coffee is ready to drink. Sherlock, being engrossed at his computer, holds out his coffee cup, expecting her to walk over to him to fill it from the pot. But she says, “The coffee will be right here when you need it” — and leaves it on the kitchen table, where Sherlock is not working. She provides for him, because that is part of what people who share a dwelling space do, but she does not do it in a way that enables his assholery, because she does not bring the coffee over to him, and tells him that he can get his own coffee because he is capable of doing so. And that is basically the dynamic of their relationship — and bless this Sherlock, he comes to think that this dynamic is important to his own well-being, which is key to him becoming an agent in sustaining it.
As for the third — well, only briefly, I think of the Downey Jr. and Law version, and I think, well, they are more of codependent on each other, but then again Watson in this case does not take all of Sherlock’s shit sitting down, so it is a half-point in their favor.
The problem with talking about abuse like this is that I will have to — well, I have to remember how I was abused, right? I have to remember the incidents that hurt me, in order to use them as illustrations, in order to glean the warning signs that I can then tell everyone else about. I have to remember how and when I was abused in order to tell others how not to be abused.
And that means having to think about the person who abused me, having to remember the things he said and did to me.
I don’t want to think about him at all.
But, look, this is abuse: after he declared that he was a polyamorous person, I went off and did a little research of my own, and also fortunately at that time I was already reading the blog of a pair of people who seemed to be happily polyamorous. I even went so far as to contact the man in that pair of people, asking him for advice about this kind of relationship.
I brought my knowledge to my abuser and suggested that he might want to speak to someone who was, shall we say, of his persuasion — get some insights, get some pointers, that kind of thing that I thought was good for self-improvement and also good relationship management.
What did my abuser do? Run the fuck away from my advice. He didn’t want to speak to a man who was openly polyamorous, who had some advice and hard-won experience to already back him up. I wondered, at the time, why he shut himself off from the idea. Now I know better. Now I know that he didn’t want to speak to the others who were actually already living happily in polyamory because some small part of him already knew the disgusting truth: he was either going to get raked over the coals for doing polyamory wrong, or he was going to be confronted with the knowledge that he was an abuser. He didn’t want the aggravation and certainly did not want to hear that he was an asshole.
It should have been self-preservation, except that he did it at my expense.
And like I said, I don’t don’t don’t I really don’t want to talk about my abuser, and I hell to the no don’t want to relive the things he did to me, and yet I have to remember if I want to share those stories with other people so that they can get away from their abusers, and — well, I want to know, what do I do in order to take a break from this dance upon my sharp and painful memories? I don’t intend to bleed out for the sake of others.
It’s a bloody balance to find.