My Lover, My Monster
This collage symbolizes the very real duplicity of the lover/monster
in my study. The person appears to be a gentle, nurturing, loving,
protective caregiver, someone you can depend on. Yet with a quickness
that facade is gone and they are transformed into a towering, vile, threatening,
fire breathing, demon possessed creature that causes you to tremble with
fear at the mere thought of their presence.
The lover has disappeared - all kind words and affectionate
gestures are gone and in its place we are left to deal with a stranger,
a monstrosity beyond comprehension, whose violent rage is a tornado
destroying everything and everyone it encounters.
Liar; wretched, vile creature
Tormentor of my soul
Oh but, how I love you.
What's the difference between love and hate
Who can tell
Two demons in one heart
My monster, my lover.
Whenever I talk to my friend Nikki, I get a knot in my
stomach. Nikki has this boyfriend Mike who has "mental problems"
as she puts it. Nikki told me recently that one night she casually
asked Mike if he was going out, and for no apparent reason he suddenly
got mad. He threw her over the sofa, pushed her face into the carpet
and pounded her in the ribs. Another time when they were playing
around, Mike suddenly pulled off his leather belt and threatened her with
it. When Nikki ran into the closet, he promised he wouldn't hit her.
But when she came out, he "went off" beating her until her thighs were
covered with welts. "I told you not to mess with me." He said.
Nikki is afraid of her boyfriend, and I think he like it that
way. I've tried to tell her that he might kill her one day but she
doesn't seem to hear me.
There are various emotions which encompass the broad spectrum
of tenderness, affection and concern felt by one person for another person
or object which is defined as love. Frankenstein, Grenouille and
my character Mike, all have the need to love and be loved, but because
of certain events in their life they do not express this desire in a socially
acceptable way. These monsters are never truly happy with their achievements,
whether it's being the best perfumer or being in a wonderful relationship,
as they are not happy with themselves.
Both in Perfume and Frankenstein the novel's main character
is abandoned by a parent or other caretaker and this rejection laid the
foundation for the monster they became as adults - "killing on a whiff"
as classmate Michael Harkins stated, so they feel vindicated. Similarly,
Mike was rejected by his mother in childhood, his father having left the
scene earlier, once she found a new love interest. Mike replays this
initial rejection by being verbally and physically abusive and controlling
to his partners, as he views them as reflections of his mother who will
abandon him once someone new enters their life. He continually tells
Nikki that she's the only one who understands him and that it's love that
makes him act out in a destructive manner.
Through my readings I've found that it's rare a relationship
start out abusive, and in the beginning abusive men are often charming
- bringing flowers, calling frequently, buying gifts. But this soon
turns to possessiveness, which in the end gives way to insults and violence.
No one likes to be considered a victim, and for many of us the
thought of being smacked around brings out the fighter in us. When
abuse begins, women have a hard time believing that something initially
so wonderful is turning sour. After the violent display comes the
calm, with profuse apologies and the promises of redemption and the woman
thinks it will go back to the way it was before. This however is
the calm before the storm, as this "loving period" is always followed by
more abuse. Most women blame themselves, believing if they were a
"better woman" he would stop punching her.
According to Diane Ackerman in A Natural History of Love "familiarity
and friendship are things we cling to and it is hard to surrender these
things even if the relationship isn't perfect.....It takes a lot of courage
to leap off a relationship not knowing if you will sink or swim" (Ackerman
). Nikki stayed with her abusive boyfriend because of this, but even
after she became pregnant the beatings didn't stop. Now she stays
with him because of her child. This decision is a common one.
Every nine seconds a woman is abused. Some could be our
relatives, neighbors, professors or fellow students. Abuse knows
no boundaries; it can happen to any of us.
Awaiting the hidden sun, its warmth and its light
Though I know it's there; it's beyond my sight.
I stand here in darkness, so cold and alone
Looking forward to the dawn, for this light to be shown.
At times the light lingers and its rays fill me with life
'Till darkness falls again upon me and I stand without might.
I have no choice but to remain on this soil
It must have been meant to be in this turmoil.
But one day soon I will surely blossom
When this light of mine will rise up from the bottom;
For it's my strength, my hope and my source
that keeps my heart beating with love at full force.
It's rare that a relationship starts out abusive. On the contrary,
men are often Prince Charming at the onset of the relationship. They
are very attentive to their lover - calling frequently, bringing flowers,
buying gifts. However that tenderness and affection soon becomes
tainted, the concern becomes suspicion and the attentiveness becomes jealousy
and possessiveness, which in the end gives way to insults and violence.
The tree symbolizes the different stages in an abusive relationship.
At the root are all the ideals of romantic love upon which the relationship
is based. Then suspicion and jealousy creep in leading to mistrust,
possessiveness and one partner trying to control the other through the
use of intimidation and aggression. The relationship is transformed.
Faith and trust have been diminished. The tree blossoms and insults, rage
and violence have replaced the tenderness, happiness and romance that were
once present. Through it all the love is still present but because of criticism
and manipulation it is no longer the central focus as it was in the beginning.