On Being The Adversary
One of my exes legit thinks I’m Satan. I am not going to say that I was an amazing girlfriend when we dated, or even that I’m proud of the decisions I made with relation to him and our relationship, but I also try not to forget that Edwin Pomble thought I was a perfectly lovely person until he realized I was never going to take him back.
Then I was evil incarnate.
Really, I try to maintain two perspectives on things like this. The first is the one where I try to be honest with myself and hold myself accountable for as much as, but no more than, seems reasonable. This perspective tells me that it was a complicated, messy relationship. He was horrible (at times), I was horrible (at times), and I stayed in it past the point where I strictly wanted to be, which is frankly what I feel most horrible about (one of my greatest fears is that people I care about are suffering my presence in their lives for no good reason, not really wanting me there, and I have profound distaste for the fact that I ever put anyone else in that position). But I don’t think my actions were ever borderline demonic, or even common, kitchenly evil.
The second perspective is the one where I accept that in his reality, I am A Motherfucking Monster. It doesn’t matter what I think happened, or even what actually happened in reality. It’s his perception, and it’s completely real. Through this perspective I realize that I’m basically his Reginald Sleeth.
Both of these perspectives are true because Edwin and I both exist, both have thoughts, and therefore both inhabit universes that only ever vaguely resembled each other. I refuse to pretend that his isn’t valid just because I don’t agree with or like it. This wasn’t always the case. For a while it really bothered me that I was the villain in his narrative. “Why doesn’t he understand that the shitty things he pulled were far shittier than the shitty things I pulled?” I’d demand of my Universe, which silently agreed. Didn’t matter. Didn’t touch him. He didn’t live there, or anywhere it would make sense.
And really, it doesn’t take much to ruin someone’s life. It just takes them thinking you did. There’s no reason to take that blame on if you don’t feel it’s deserved, but it’s useless to pretend they’re not feeling that pain.
And further, it’s crossed my mind– in fact I think it’s absolutely true– that Reginald Sleeth, who certainly abused me by the book, lives in a reality where he was largely faultless, maybe even victimized. That’s perfectly natural. There may be a part of me that wants him broken and riddled with shame and regret, but it’s puny and vestigial now compared to what it was. Shame is highly combustible, and for most of us it cannot remain stable over time. We have to contain it or transmute it somehow, or we’re utterly consumed. He’s allowed to have a life without that baggage. He’s allowed to try for better, and I hope that’s exactly what he’s doing.
When I learned that Edwin saw me out in public recently, surrounded by people I care about and behaving like I think I’m people, I understood why he felt slapped, discomfited. I think I can even relate to it. I’ve gotten pretty far along in the process of accepting that to him, there may be no way to relate to me as a human being. What I’m wondering is, if it happens again, and I actually see him too this time, what is a hell fiend to do? Do I greet him as a casual acquaintance? Do I pretend not to see him? Do I nod cordially but keep my distance? Entirely other thing? I truly don’t even know, but I do wish I could make it easier on him.
For Satan, there is no etiquette. Is there?