I once dated a guy who made me a mix tape (technically a CD) and one of the songs he put on was, “American Woman” (which is a great song, and he’s English, and I’m American, and we had a very adversarial relationship, so it fit, but… anyways). A great song, but not really what I’d expect to hear, if I were expecting a mix of lovesongs. Which, y’know. Having given him the soppiest CD I’d ever heard, not 2 months earlier (and to this day, I regret wasting all that sugar-sweetness on someone so unmoved by it) I sort of *did* expect something reciprocal.
That was my first mistake, in that relationship. When you’re with someone who always brings a gun to a knife-fight, for whom the Horn of Gondor is never enough, no, they need the One Ring… expecting what is right and deserved and equal is a futile hope. In a relationship like that, the only reciprocation comes when they’ve broken you enough that the meanest hint of human kindness feels like an outpouring of the Balm of Gilead.
Which, you know. Is meant for–let me recall that song I sang in high school–making the wounded whole, and healing the sin-sick soul.
When *you* are the one wounding someone, and making them soul-sick, you don’t get to be the balm that makes it all better, as well. That’s not love–that’s emotional abuse–and although it works in the short term (turning a would-be lover into a tearful, sighing, queasy-stomached dependant, eternally hanging on your next word, a word they’re never quite sure is coming) eventually, the spell wears off and the person who thought they loved you, who *does* love you in some way, realizes that, mostly, they’ve just been played.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me a hundred times, and I’ll burn everything we ever were on a pyre of self-preservation; and I’ll rise, jewel-toned plumage brilliant in the sun, eyes as hot as the flames, a strange, dark-haired Mother of Dragons, from the ashes of you, me, and the fiction in the space between.
And then I will scorch you to the bone and eat you alive, you fucking shitbag.