The Cycle (II)- Schadenfreude

*the following short fiction excerpt is a combination response to Rarasaur’s Prompt for the Promptless and answer to the interest shown by some readers on my short story The Cycle. Enjoy, and feel free to comment.

The Cycle- Schadenfruede

She could remember when she had loved him, been enamored with him.  She remembered it in the way one sometimes remembers a dream, like a detached observer.

…Their first meeting, on the back patio of the bar where she and her friends from work had gone after the dull and seemingly interminable company party…  The tentative anticipation and exhilaration of finally meeting someone who could potentially hold her interest for more than a few weeks.  She remembered his dark good looks and his easy charm.  The electricity of their first kiss.

Even now, she could remember his effect on her.  How she had lusted for him and had to force herself to wait even the short week before they fell into bed together in a furious tangle of limbs.  Now, the thought of her lust for him sickened her.  She felt nauseous and ashamed, disgusted by the memory of his face, still handsome and seemingly unaffected by his time in prison.  Disgusted that she had fallen for him, even though, objectively, she could still remember why she had loved him.

But mostly she was disgusted that she had been so completely and utterly fooled by him.  She felt used and stupid.  She felt responsible, as if, in her stupidity, she had somehow been an accomplice to his crimes.

Because now, casting a harsh eye back over the past ten years of her life, she could clearly see– she should have seen– that something was wrong.

He had handled her too easily on too many occasions.  They had fought little throughout their courtship and marriage.   He always seemed so considerate of her feelings, even when her fears or feelings may have been irrational.  He always knew the right things to say, or when to say nothing.  She could see now that what she had taken to be easy-going, what she had thought was just his generous nature, insouciance, had really been an expertly veiled sort of scorn.  The smug bastard had let her have her way simply because he could.  And he enjoyed being able to manipulate her so easily.

Once they had been together for a while, once her trust in him was complete and unwavering, he had enjoyed free rein to pursue his other...hobbies.   He had complete control over her, and she hadn’t even known it, because he had never harmed her, never threatened her, or even said so much as an unkind word to her.  

Now she found herself on some level wishing, perversely, that he had hit her, insulted her or belittled her…given some sign of his true nature.  His abuse had been so much more insidious.  It was in his contentment and pleasure in the  role he was playing– the doting husband–  and in his wife’s utter ignorance.

Fight Fair: When the Love is Gone

When the Love is Gone…

Healing-a-broken-heart2

What’s Left?

Most of us have been there– a relationship that just didn’t work out.  Not just someone you dated once or twice, but a relationship that actually took off, but then for some reason, began to lose steam.  Or worse– crash and burn in a fiery conflagration of suspicion and hostility after some transgression or betrayal on the part of one or both parties.

And then what’s left?  Broken hearts, bitterness, tears… and an apparent disregard for the feelings of someone we once claimed to love.

When I went through this myself, back at then end of high school, beginning of college, I simply couldn’t fathom why I was being treated so badly.  The answer soon became apparent;  the lying, the flagrant disrespect for me, disregard for my feelings, and blatant hostility, even in the face of my tears.    This was the “man” who had once begged me in tears to come back to him.  Now he was threatening to cut his wrists in front of me.  The narcissism.  The manipulation.  The threats and name-calling.  I’m pretty sure my ex had sociopathic tendencies…

Obviously, not all exes are “psychos” (incidentally one of his favorite insults to hurl at me,) however, even perfectly normal people have the capacity to be emotionally brutal to their partners.  Something I used to say often, and which I believe is true for a great many people (but at least I was upfront about it) is that when I get hurt, I get angry.

It’s a defense mechanism.  However, often, the person on the receiving end of  verbal darts carelessly slung around in an argument are often innocent (subjectively speaking) of any wrong-doing—  at least, the type of wrong doing that would warrant such emotional warfare.

You’re such a psycho…

No one will ever put up with you…

Where has [it] gotten you? You have nothing going for you…

I understand striking out when you’re hurt.  I’ve even been known to throw a punch or two, back in my younger days.  But I learned a lot from my ex.  I hate to say it, but it’s true.

I learned how I never wanted to be treated again.  I learned what I wouldn’t put up with from someone.  I learned not to fight back using name-calling or worse…giving a liar a black eye.  I also learned that I didn’t like the person I had become as a result of being with my ex…  Insecure, and abusive in my own right.couples-fighting

But this post isn’t really about me or my ex.  It’s about how people treat one another.  Relationships are complicated, and blame goes both ways.  Maybe your partner has hurt you.  Maybe you are in the midst of a break-up, with no foreseeable hope of reconciliation.  But do you really want to hurt this person you once loved, or maybe even still love?  Silence can be a very damaging and passive-aggressive form of fighting…

But sometimes silence is your friend.  If you are losing control, and you know you might say something you can’t take back, keep your mouth shut.  Don’t just walk away, but tell your partner you need a few minutes to yourself and then walk away.  And if your partner tells you they need a moment, let them walk away.  You can save yourself and your partner a lot of hurt.  Even if you see no future with them, do you really need the stress of fighting with them?

Sometimes the problem is even more basic.  Some people just don’t care if they hurt someone else’s feelings.

I can’t stress it enough– when this is a repeated pattern, especially if it’s not in the heat of the moment (and thus not an issue of self control) this is a very clear sign.  I learned it myself, after too long being mistreated, waiting for apologies that never came.  When your partner no longer cares if they hurt you, it’s time to move on.

To everyone else…   fight fair.  If not for your partner’s sake, for your own.  Being nasty to your partner is not conducive to mending a relationship.  Don’t take the bait and give into trading insults.  Even if  things don’t work out, you will know you did the best you could and stood on higher ground.  Not to be better than them, but to be a better you.