For five hours, I sat waiting for my van to get fixed. I had brought my van there early in the morning, did not want to spend money to take a cab, and had writing homework to do. So I sat, and waited, starting to muster up some hope that it is something small and won’t cost very much. Six hundred nineteen dollar later, those hopes were whisked under the heavy blanket of reality and I drove off, still with an unsettled issue and the likelihood of spending another three hundred. I drove off saying in my head, “Fuck off, Poverty.”
Then, my attorney passed along some judgments. Two trials coming up this spring. Year five of family court…I am surely a veteran by now. Anger stirred by the injustice system…I will get my story out, I will write letters. Another reading about a little girl who is being sexually abused, and a warning that her mother will lose custody if she brings up sexual abuse because her ex husband is “such a nice man.” Unfortunately, that is the reality of family court nationwide. There is no protection for the vulnerable and defenseless from people who are supposed to protect us. Fuck off, family court.
We all know these “nice men.” And “nice men” do terrible, wicked things. They really are bad people. They aren’t necessarily like alcoholics who are overt in their self-destruction, even as they stay in denial. It isn’t as easy to excuse someone who consciously orchestrates and enjoys another person’s pain. Fuck off, “nice” men.
So imagine my discomfort with being faced with the concept of having compassion for abusers. Compassion for my dad, who was a violent, remorseless user? Compassion for my ex the narcissist, who sincerely feeds off my pain and is the most messed up, controlling person I know? It makes no sense. You’re not supposed to feel compassion for people like that who are so destructive. That would be like feeling compassion for Hitler, or groups who engage in genocide, or the heartless companies who rape our earth and exploit our people.
As I was lovingly confronted with the concept of having compassion for an abuser, I am quite sure thin trails of smoke started coming out of my ears as my whole being was burning with cognitive dissonance. What do you mean, compassion for abusers? What they do is bad, just bad. They don’t deserve compassion.
And that is true. They don’t deserve compassion. But anyone whose mark left on the world is one of destruction, pain, and hurt is a sad person. They have a block, somehow, that won’t allow them to feel human suffering except vicariously and is the ultimate schadenfreude. They can’t access their innate human birthright, which is to be compassionate, empathetic, and altruistic. It is as if they have a vile disease, one that won’t go away. They may or may not know what they are doing but they always know the consequences otherwise they wouldn’t seek out such abusive acts of disempowerment and oppression. They can’t ever know real love, for they have put up such a wall between themselves and love. And they can’t know God or how to assuage the longings of their spirit for they don’t know their spirit.
Somewhere along the way, they lost touch with the pain of their own heart. And anyone who goes against humanity lacks integrity, and hurts himself as much as someone else.
So while I’m not quite at the wholehearted compassion stage, I can see that abusers convince themselves their abuse is of benefit when it is not. I will sit with this for many years, perhaps, as I try to open my heart to the possibility of compassion for abusers.
There does exist in the world The Forgiveness Project, where people forgive each other for heinous crimes. Worth a look.