Where Does It Come From?
It seems to happen too often and for little to no reason:
A small misunderstanding,
A face she didn’t like,
A comment that was taken too personally,
Whatever the reason, the cute and cuddly wife has gone Mr. Hyde on me and transformed into her own monster that I like to call ‘the Gollumette’.
You meet someone. There’s bound to be a bit of friction as you get to know each other. There’s bound to be some mistakes as you push each other to your limits. My wife and I both have very strong personalities that are pretty unique on their own, but even more special because we somehow stayed together despite our similar avoidant personalities.
We fought. In the beginning, it was always escalation to the point of screaming ‘bloody murder’. We were two people who were always used to winning. It was a championship match every time things went off. That shit got too intense for me at the beginning of this year though, and I had to really slam on the brakes and have a look at myself.
This isn’t to say we never argue anymore. Or that couples should never argue. That would be a dead relationship. If there is any chemistry at all, there will be some sparks, explosions, and (at times) transformation.
Cats will hiss. Dogs will bark. And lovers shall quarrel.
In fact, I still believe it serves a purpose (to a point). I knew she was a shrew woman when we had met. I even laughed at myself a little for following in the footsteps of one of my idols by marrying her. I figured it was a short fuse. My father and brother had the same problems so it wasn’t unfamiliar. In truth, it could be argued I was slightly attracted to that familiar form of suffering.
Yet, I didn’t want this to ruin our relationship. So, I dug deep to see past it and eventually wrote an article admiring her anger as an endearing, albeit a naive, form of optimism and hope. Writing all of it off as just an ‘anger problem’ seemed okay at first. I was even able to smile a little when my angry little chihuahua started her high-pitched barking and ankle-biting.
It’s funny as well because we do have a chihuahua that represents her perfectly as a spirit animal.
Bit of a princess
Pretty anti-social unless she wants something
Same technique for ‘fighting’
To be fair, we also have 3 other dogs and a cat. One of which also more closely resembles my own spirit animal.
But mostly quiet and keeps to himself
Doesn’t bark often, but when he does, it is intense
He’s under my desk laying on my feet now. We have our corner of the apartment.
Still, the year has gone by and we do argue less, and the arguments are much less intense as I don’t blame her for her anger problem. I don’t take it personally anymore when she blows up. Even the best of us lose our cool from time to time. Unless you are a Zen master, you will probably have bad reactions your whole life.
What divides us is what we do after the initial explosion. As hard as it is to ‘lose’, I learned to choose peace over being right. I would respond to her anger with love and kindness. Sometimes, I would even buy her something. It didn’t seem fair, but for the most part, it felt like progress.
And though I do still feel it is progress, there is a new creature I must face these days.
[I wish her precious was as simple as a ring.]
The fights got less frequent, yet the same amount of anger was still ruining entire days of our lives. I was sure I wasn’t making the same ‘mistakes’ I used to do that set her off. I had even learned to control myself and allow her to berate me and treat me like shit as I awaited her ‘anger high’ to wear off. She would eventually come down and realize it was a bit much and all would be good again.
The problem I later realized through pages of writing it out wasn’t that she got angry, it was that she got ugly. It was an ugliness she emanated and vomited onto me for days. All of this for the smallest offense.
[In her defense, I am the Mad Hatter.]
I have always written things out. It’s how I get perspective on things. And now I use it to publish articles to, perhaps, help others. I no doubt play a role in triggering the event that causes the initial explosion of anger, but after a year of responding to her ‘anger problem’ with love and compassion, she has only seemed to lower the threshold to maintain this need to be nasty for days.
It’s beyond reason, but I still tried to find a reason. I do love the Gollumette after all. We are a team and her problems are my problems. Especially when they are so often directed at me. I have written scores of journal entries this year just looking for some clue as to what was going on.
I even started to blame myself again, this time for being too kind and understanding.
Does she see me as weak for not fighting back?
Does she think she is entitled to this elongated anger-high because I accept it?
Does she feel like she is ‘winning’ because I don’t put her in her place when she cuts me down?
I was starting to think the anger problem had only gotten worse and I had played a role in that.
[Shit. She heard me. Run.]
The Gollumette hurts. Sometimes it feels beyond repair. I’ve always managed to date. And I have long ago accepted that life, and marriage for that matter, is not about happiness. It’s about living. Living is growing. It is experiencing, good and bad. And I have learned and grown much because of the woman I live with.
Yet, even though I understood the duality of the pain that was bound to come from the woman that also brought me so much pleasure, even if I laughed that the most beautiful woman in town could also be the most hideous creature, I wanted to understand it. I wanted to understand her. I wanted to understand why. I wanted to understand how she could be so ugly.
I was left puzzled by the casual inhumanity she encircled all around me.
I didn’t understand it until today. I often walk the puppies and the time in the park is when I am able to reflect and think clearly without the dark clouds that swirl in the apartment when she is there as the Gollumette.
Today, I realized that it isn’t anger I was fighting anymore. Anger doesn’t make one treat the ones they love so badly for such exaggerated periods of time. Not responding to a joke she told the way she wanted with days of ugliness wasn’t an ‘anger problem’. Her precious isn’t her anger as I had thought. It is something far darker. Her precious is something deep within her that transforms her into this cave-dwelling nasty creature only intent on protecting herself and said precious.
To this day, I still don’t know exactly what this precious is. Perhaps it is multiple things, but for now, let’s think of it as a thorn that can hurt from the wrong touch or sleeping position. A thorn she has learned to hide and protect to survive without suffering. Well, until she met me which left herself exposed unlike she had before.
I have redefined the days when the ‘thorn of ugliness’ is touched and she becomes the Gollumette. The anger is the fire. It’s what happens out of the gate that she ‘can’t control’. There may even still be some flames after the initial explosion. How fast and well we put them out is different for all of us.
But to wake up to a new day with the intention to cause more pain is an ugliness. This isn’t an angry reaction. This is hours of calmness with jabbing comments, harsh criticism over the most trivial things, and shockingly vile sarcasm. This is being aware of what one is doing. They are not ‘lost in a moment of passion’.
This is an ugliness consciously carried and used from one hour to the next, from one day to another.
The person that pushes ugliness onto the world isn’t a bad person. They are in pain. And as cliche as it may sound, misery loves company. They want us to suffer like they are suffering. And before we beat ourselves up again as the cause of their pain, remember two very important things:
We didn’t cause the pain that they carry around inside them. A small comment or face does not come close to meriting the ugliness a person shows when they turn into a golem. We may have been a trigger, but we were not even the one that installed said trigger. So don’t beat yourself up!
Whatever comes out of a person is their responsibility. Once again, we aren’t expecting the world to become enlightened monks overnight that do not react. Monks that simply feel, then watch their emotions pass through them without showing any outward signs of disturbance. Yet, the ugliness a person sees in the world is a reflection of what is inside of themselves. Call them insecurities, call it unhealed trauma, whatever. If they see a confused face and start screaming, ‘You think I’m crazy!’ That is their shit. We can’t be held responsible for that, no matter how shitty they make us feel about it or how often they tell us it is our fault.
These people may seem strong and confident on the outside. In fact, it is part of the reason that they transform into a golem or the incredible hulk or whatever they imagine themselves to be at the time.
They feel clever in their hurtful comments towards us.
They feel in control by criticizing us.
They feel strong by slashing away at us emotionally.
Yet, for someone to be able to do that, especially to someone they love, they are obviously not in a good place inside. They may feel superior in their demeaning vindictiveness towards us. However, if we just flip the psychological definition of evil we can see things a bit clearer.
‘Evil is the exercise of power. And that's the key: it's about power. To intentionally harm people psychologically, to hurt people physically…’
- Philip Zimbardo, The Psychology of Evil
It’s about power. They aren’t being ugly or ‘evil’ because they are strong. They are actually very weak and scared. They need this evil ugliness to feel in control. To feel powerful. Because the alternative is just too frightening.
If a person is strong on the inside, they can take the constant bombardment on their outside walls, even if it’s coming from the most important person in their lives.
This thought today brought me peace again as I found the courage to deal with another bad day from living with the Gollumette. The poor Gollumette is already being punished. I mean look at her. She is in pain. It hurts me to know this when I care about her, but it also takes away any desire to defend myself against a creature that is already wounded.
This simple change in perspective, this enlightening nugget of wisdom, moves us from being a victim to their ugliness to an observer of an abstract scene of cosmic justice. The world will balance itself.
As they continue to give out more ugliness, it will continue to grow inside them. There isn’t much we can do about that. It is a journey they must take on their own or perhaps with a professional if they can.
If they do seem sincere, however, in their desire to root out their pain so it no longer damages the relationship, we should, of course, be there for them. Yet, don’t expect it. Nor should we expect apologies.
[They can say some pretty nasty, and unrelated, insults.]
It isn’t a pleasant story. It’s a heavy price paid on both sides. Awareness is the first step to solving the problem. Just trying to make them aware of what is going on outside. If they see that, try to help them become aware of what is going on inside. It may take a long time for them to become aware. And it will take time and patience and effort on our part.
Sadly, we will probably get little to no credit or appreciation when improvements are made. But this isn’t about us. It’s about helping the ones we love, even if the only thing we can do sometimes is to be patient as they figure things out themselves. Be patient and try not to give them any more reasons to continue falling down their rabbit hole other than the ones they are already playing on repeat in their minds.
Those who are the ugliest are the ones still enslaved by their precious ugliness. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the sulfur wafting off of them and realize they are the ones in the worse scenario. And only they can set themselves free from their sulfuric prisons. We can point to the key, but they still have to pick it up and use it themselves. It is a choice. Their choice.
A person at ease with themself just won’t feel the need to distress others. We don’t have the energy to want to be cruel unless we are dealing with some inner turmoil.
It’s no fun to have to live with the ugliness that lives within our partners, friends, or family. Yet, now that we know what it is, and understand it a bit better, we can better deal with the blows given to us by our partners and their ugliness (even if we don’t know what the thorn is in them that is causing them so much pain).
I know it would feel good to return the ugliness. To be cruel back. To be stern and put them in their place.
Yet, the only way to end the vicious cycle of hate that they start and spin themselves is to get to the origin of the matter. There is suffering in them. They are bleeding from the inside as they cut you from the outside. Why hit them back?
Our closest ally becomes our worst enemy when they are consumed by the ugliness within themselves. It may be beyond us to help them. But until they help themselves, let’s take a note from all the old wise sages of the past and look upon our enemies with mourning, pity, and in our stronger moments, the most redeeming love of all: forgiveness.
Now we can laugh as we hear their words, ‘I don’t want your f***ing pity or forgiveness!’