Regarding Z. Shitbird:
That’s the only consideration I’m going to afford this attention-seeking toilet bowl. Seeing how hungry he is to be considered relevant, I figure that anything more than this brief mention would be giving him what he so desperately craves.
Instead, I’m going to talk about abuse.
For years, I was involved with someone who on several occasions hit me hard enough to leave bruises… even did so in front of our friends. Although I complained about it at the time, I didn’t leave; after all, I was a dude, and she was smaller than I was, and she told me it was my fault and I believed her, and… hey, love means never having to say you’re sorry, right? So, I sucked it up, and manned up, and dealt with it for years until I finally reached my breaking point and we finally split and I realized down the road how it felt to be in a relationship that DIDN’T involve getting hit and screamed at and accused of doing things I didn’t do.
At which point, I got really fucking pissed that I had endured it for as long as I had.
And yet, many years later, that anger did not keep me from remaining involved with a partner who raped me – an event I rewrote in my head for years afterward as “miscommunication” until a similar thing happened to a female friend of mine who affirmed that, yes, I had been raped as well.
Or from being gaslit in another relationship to the point where I nearly got into a bar brawl over that person I was dating, spent more money on her than I could afford, and bought her booze she’d been court-ordered not to drink because she’d tried to knife her sister while drunk.
Or from being so wound up in someone else’s script that it took the combined efforts of my two closest friends, both of my partners, a call from my abuser’s primary partner, several friends from Greece, a psychotic break on the part of my abuser, AND a collection of assembled emails and messages which revealed how my abuser was playing us all against one another – It took all of that before I finally came to my senses and stepped back from a decision that would have changed my life for the worse. And that’s ME – a fairly astute, relationship-seasoned person who’s not exactly known for being credulous or for taking things at face value.
Abuse leaves wheel-ruts in your soul – ruts that make it easier to fall back into those old patterns without realizing how you got there.
That’s what abuse can do to you. Can do to ANYONE. It can get you to doubt the evidence of your own senses and experience, excuse the inexcusable, and even turn on your own friends (much less on total strangers) if and when they contradict the vision of reality your abuser has made for you.
Abuse in a relationship seldom looks like bruises and broken bones… and when it gets to that extreme, it’s only because the level of abuse has escalated to the point where you blame yourself for what’s been done to you. At that threshold, while everybody else is either demanding “What the fuck is WRONG with you?” or – more often – simply stepping away and pretending they don’t see what’s going on (“It’s a private matter and I shouldn’t get involved”), the abuse and abuser have literally deranged your reality. The evidence no longer counts. The effects are all your fault. The lies you tell yourself are the lies you’ve been told to believe. And because abusers often hold so much of their own pain, and have their own horror stories to tell, and know so well how to win people’s sympathy for the undeniable injustices they have suffered (if only in their own minds), you don’t see it until finally you cannot unsee it.
Many abused people never reach that final point at all. They careen – as I used to – from crisis to crisis, from abuser to abuser, because the combination of self-doubt, mind-game tactics, and romantic fetishization about how “crazy is hawt” and “love means never having to say you’re sorry” all become literally intoxicating. The rush of chemistry that accompanies perceptual whiplash dazzles us. We crave it. We idealize it. We tell ourselves, “love hurts,” and we make excuses for our abusers because we would rather be mad poets than injured victims.
Abuse is exciting, especially when we get to share it.
Quite often, people who are abused don’t recognize that situation until it reaches critical mass, the abuser dumps them, or some other situation intervenes to end the cycle. It can take months, sometimes years or decades, before the haze clears and that survivor is able to say, “HOLY FUCK – WHY DID I PUT UP WITH THAT SHIT?”
For many abused people, that haze never clears. They’ll say things like, “Well, a good beating never hurt ME,” or or “But (s)he’s a good person when you get to know them,” or “I had it coming,” or “A few good whippin’s sure taught ME how to mind my manners,” or whatever other excuse sounds reasonable to them. We feel proud of what we have endured, because taking pride in what we’ve survived feels better than admitting we should never have been in that situation to begin with.
Abusers excel at controlling narratives. They call the shots. They command. Some use pity-pleas (“Look how much I’ve suffered”), while others play the strongman regardless of their gender. Especially if those people have inborn or cultivated self-obsession or a clinical lack of empathy, abusive people can seem charismatic. Likeable. Someone worth defending even when that defense costs you everything you’ve got.
Quite a few of them excel, too, at finding enemies to blame – targets to harass with you so you can feel like a predator instead of their prey. I fell in with some kids like that in my early teens, and I feel ashamed by things I did back then so my buddies would think I was cool.
Knowing the game, as I’ve discovered from my own abuse, does not make you immune to it.
And so, when I see someone like Z. Shitbird, I see a person so desperate for attention that he will cultivate a rebel image that allows him to surround himself with apologists and sycophants and lovers and employers who he can then abuse for his own gratification. Many of them won’t recognize his manipulations until long afterward, if they ever recognize those abuses at all.
I see a Trump of the RPG world who’s so good at playing the outsider card that he convinces folks to take him at his word no matter how often that word changes or how little he expresses while unloading it.
I see a bully playing victim in order to victimize others… including those victims who feel stronger when they bully other people.
I see a fraud who controls the narrative in order to remain the center of it.
I see an attention-hungry abusive fake wearing someone else’s image without having actually done the work of earning such distinction.
I see the shadow of my own abusers, getting off on the abuse he perpetrates because ABUSE IS ALL HE UNDERSTANDS… and I see the people he’s abused abusing one another, and spreading that abuse further than one person should ever be allowed to operate.
Thus, I have no interest in discussing Z. Shitbird further.
Because attention is what he wants, and abuse is the only thing he’s got to offer.
People believe him because no one wants to believe we’ve been blind enough to miss what’s so fucking obvious.
So instead, let’s talk about abuse.
How it works, how it affects us, and how we can move beyond the ways it turns our reality to shit.
Abusers do not deserve the power we invest in them.
And we all deserve better than abuse.