“Misery loves company.” – John Ray
I can’t say that I have experienced or seen anything that leads me to disagree.
There are three types of victims: The Innocent Bystander, The Self Fulfilling Prophesier, and The Perpetuator.
The Innocent Bystander is the victim that we are the most familiar with, either from our own experiences or from the experiences of another. Nothing and no one can stop the inevitable, no matter how hard we try, or how much we’d like to think we can. Occasionally some tragedy or unfair circumstance creeps its way into our Fortress’ of Perfection. That’s just it though, nothing is perfect, and life goes on, and usually the Innocent Bystander does too.
The Self Fulfilling Prophesier and The Perpetuator are different. They start as the Innocent Bystander, but something happens, something that makes it impossible to let go of the feelings and thoughts surrounding the moment that they felt themselves shatter. They go on, but that moment replays over and over, and instead of letting it go and making peace, they scrutinize every detail to its most infinitesimal degree. The constant replay of the horrors makes them feel as though they are at fault, that they could have and should have somehow stopped the horrors that came. Because they failed to stop them, they deserve them. You and I both know this is NEVER the case, no person deserves for any horrible thing to happen to them. No one deserves for their dignity to be stripped from them. This doesn’t change the fact that to The Self Fulfilling Prophesier there is always something lurking around every corner, and that they deserve whatever it is that may or may not come, even though IF that something were to ever come, they would be Innocent Bystanders in the matter. It is said that a victim is twice as likely to be victimized again. The Self Fulfilling Prophesier knows that this day is coming, they “feel it,” even though that day may never come.
Then there’s The Perpetuator. They too started as an Innocent Bystander, went through the stages of being The Self Fulfilling Prophesier, and went a step further: deep into the land of self-made Stockholm syndrome. The Perpetuator has taken tragedy to a whole new level. They continually invite it. They know the choices they make are the wrong ones, but somehow manage to convince themselves that “this time” will be different, this time I won’t let them do that to me. If they do that one more time, I’m gone for good.”
Those words sound like the words of someone in control. Someone we want to believe will ride the tides to better days, but there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. With The Perpetuator there is now a system of Unfortunate Neurons that are in control, misfiring like Dick Cheney on a hunting trip. The words are said, the words of change, hope, self-love and that which no one can dispute are of what is right. Sadly they are just that: words. They inevitably lack the courage of their convictions. Is it because the person who utters those words is/are incapable of action? I do not believe so; they have become the victims of their own never-ending prisons. There is perhaps a fleeting moment in time that we have all been here; some of us still are. Maybe we just couldn’t stop ourselves from drinking too fast, knowing full well we’d puke; just like the last time. Maybe we had to have that outfit, knowing it would mean we wouldn’t have the money to pay rent or eat; just like last month. Maybe we said from now on we’d be more responsible and go to bed earlier so that we would actually start showing up to work on time, but we didn’t; just like yesterday and the day/week/month/year(s) before that. Maybe we said just one more hit and then never again; but we’re still pushing the needle and further down the spiral than we have ever been and cannot see ourselves any other way. Just maybe.
Here’s the problem with The Perpetuator that doesn’t de-escalate back down to an Innocent Bystander: they are NOT the only casualties. When this point has been reached there are always victims of war that are Innocent Bystanders. The problem is that more times than not those that are Perpetuators are the ones we love that we want the best for, and because we are bound to this love, we rush to their aid time and time again. We tell ourselves “this time will be different; this time they won’t do this again. They have to have learned a lesson by now; they know not to fall for this again.” Or maybe it’s “this is the last time that I am going to sacrifice everything for them, I am not doing this again if they continue down this path.” But it never works, it never ends, and we too become Perpetuators.
When I think of a Perpetuator the only thing I can relate to is an old time nearly abandoned run down theatre. The kind of theatre that’s on the other side of town, and it’s cold, dark, and damp. It reeks of stale popcorn, sex, and cigarettes, so much that when you leave it’s not just in your clothes, it’s in YOU. You have to dive head first into the purging fires of Mordor to thoroughly cleanse yourself of the stench. A theatre that only plays those old black and white films and they’ve played the films so many times that the reels cannot be spliced back together anymore. During the most pivotal scenes, the film cuts out or the audio screams ahead like a chipmunk burning alive while hopped up on cocaine.
We all have that friend that just can’t seem to get enough of those theatres, those films and the nostalgia, the costuming, and the scripts. Normally that would be ok, but the problem is that they are only interested in ONE movie. The same movie over and over and over. They’ve seen that movie a thousand times, they know every word, every pause, every tear, the subtleties of the character progressions, what the writer really meant as they were attempting their fifteen minutes on sociopolitical commentary. Everything. They’ve seen it so many times that they have abandoned reality and go through every waking moment as their favorite character of the film. Everything they do and say is another line from the movie. Someone will sweep them off of their feet and everything will be “perfect.”
They asked us once to come and see the film, and we agreed, because it was so important to them. We sat there and watched. It was a painful thing to endure, but we kept our mouths shut and did it: out of love, respect, and devotion. But that wasn’t enough. It never is. “Just one more time,” they cried. “It will be the last time, and I will never ask you to do this again. It’s just that I hate experiencing this alone.” And we cave. We always cave: love, respect, and devotion.
Some of us are still going to that theatre and watching that horrible film. We know how it ends: yet we keep going. Others of us are at the point that we tell ourselves that if we see the film one more time, it will be the end of this so-called friendship. Then there are those of us that have stopped going all together and when that friend calls and cries for us, we simply turn away. We no longer return the calls. It’s not because we don’t care, in fact it’s quite the opposite. We do. We care about them and we care about us. We care enough to no longer feed into the cycle of abuse, hoping that one day they will realize that they are sitting in that cold, dark, damp theatre alone.
I’ve become that person. I cannot and will not let those that say they love me continue to drag me to the theatre. To appropriate and paraphrase the words of Bernie Taupin and voiced so eloquently voiced by Sir Elton John:
“I’ve seen that movie too… The one where the players are acting surprised… Well their actions become so absurd … So keep your auditions for somebody Who hasn’t got so much to lose… I’m not the blue print for all of your B films… Because I’ve seen that movie too.”
The pill that I really can’t swallow when it comes to The Perpetuator is when what we have given is not enough, when we have given all we can and have over and over, and what we hear and get in return is “if you really loved me you would…” That’s when I draw the line. When all we can and are, are cast aside with last week’s garbage, I am through. Who are you to deign what is and isn’t our best? We loved you unconditionally, sacrificed ourselves every time you cried wolf, and claimed it was another emergency. We dropped everything; we put our lives on hold, missed our deadlines and let down everyone else that was counting on us, including ourselves FOR YOU. Just so you could cast us aside and tell us that “we don’t love you,” “we don’t care about you,” “we don’t know what it’s like.”
To that all I can muster has already been said by Maynard James Keenan, and once again I will appropriate and paraphrase:
“Threw you the obvious and you flew with it on your back, a name in your recollection, thrown down among a million same. Difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed and passed over when I’ve looked right through to see you naked and oblivious and you don’t see me… but I threw you the obvious to see what occurs behind the eyes of a fallen angel, the eyes of a tragedy. Here I am expecting just a little bit too much from the wounded. But I see through it all and see you… You don’t, you don’t see me, you don’t see me at all… apparently nothing. Apparently nothing at all… oh well.”
For those that want to say it and can’t: “Guess what? FUCK YOU. We’re through. More importantly we are through with you. I AM THROUGH WITH YOU.”
Surprisingly this isn’t about me. This is about watching someone else that I love and care about that sits in that theatre time and time again, for the sake of love, respect, and devotion. I wish them well. I stopped entering that theatre a long time ago. However I can no longer sit idly by, and haven’t. I have witnessed the abuse for longer than I care to remember, sadly when it happens the most placid thing I can and have mustered is: “I would rather suffer childhood again and be raped every day, and physically beaten until I can’t stand, then deal with that.”
I know that is not an appropriate response, but it’s honestly the best that I can give. I want to give more. I want to stop them from entering that theatre. I would rather take the abuse; I am willing to deal with it again, I am used to it from ones that claim it’s out of love.
Watching you suffer is killing me, it’s killing us. I just want to see you smile again. I would give anything to see you be happy. Out of love I am willing to be your whipping boy.