Domestic violence is torture and the UN Convention must be changed

12 Nov

On Monday night, representatives from the Australian government appeared before the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) as part of a current review into Australia’s obligations under its treaty. In their submission, our government argued, “As a matter of international law, domestic violence does not fall within the scope of the Convention … as it is not conduct that is committed by or at the instigation of, or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

In other words, violence against women does not constitute ‘torture’. Clementine Ford, Daily Life

Unfortunately, the Convention against Torture reads as follows:

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Domestic violence does not constitute torture according to the UN Convention, so the Australian government representatives are correct.

What is tragic is that the Australian government is not arguing for an amendment to the Convention that will include domestic violence in the definition of torture.

Given that the Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, has shown no interest at all in the horrific abuses against women in this country, I doubt there will be any initiatives from Australia along the lines of amending the Convention.

 

Asylum Seekers: what it costs Australian governments to persecute stateless persons

12 Nov

 Asylum Seeker Three

 

The foreigner is the political precondition of the nation state… Costas Douzinas.

Australia, while remaining a signatory to the United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees, long since gave up any pretence of observance of international human rights in favour of a nationalistic observance of state sovereign rights. State sovereignty permits governments the right to exclude persons the state deems unworthy of inclusion.

The power of the state to exclude is perhaps the fundamental state power.

Ideological, racial, economic and political factors are the criteria for deciding who is and is not included in the nation-state. As Hannah Arendt noted, statelessness is not a problem of geographical space, but of political space.

The stateless person has as their only descriptor the fact that they are human. Ironically, this strips them of their right to human rights, rights which are only available to them if they are citizens of a state. It is not enough to be human. One must also belong to a state in order to claim human rights. Arendt suggest that the only fundamental human right is the right to have rights. Asylum seekers who have a legitimate right to arrive by boat in Australia are stripped of the right to have rights once their vessel is intercepted by Australian authorities.

 

Stateless Persons UNHCR

Persons seeking asylum from persecution who attempt to access Australia by boat are singled out for exclusion, and though their method of arrival is perfectly legitimate under the Convention, they are criminalised and detained in off-shore camps. Detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island are all that is offered to de facto stateless persons, that is, refugees unable to claim the human rights afforded by citizenship. Persons detained in these camps are exempted from “normal” laws. The methods of addressing their plight are containment and repatriation, or resettlement in another country, rather than granting asylum and legal integration into the Australian nation.

This action against asylum seekers is justified as being in the “national interest,” an abstract concept in which the mystical “nation”  is prioritised over the interests of singular human beings who are dispossessed non-nationals, and therefore considered rightless.  The state is committed to protecting only legitimate members of the nation, the rights of asylum being in conflict with the rights of the state. There is in Australia no concept of offering sanctuary and refuge to those fleeing persecution who arrive by sea. Their loss of place in the world, their loss of belonging, has the effect of reducing them to physical objects, bereft of human dignity, because without rights one is not a person, one is not an agent in the public realm.

In reaction to this deliberate and systematic dehumanisation, asylum seekers held in detention camps on Manus and Nauru behave as did those held in mainland camps such Woomera and Baxter. They sew up their lips in a symbolic protest against the silencing of their voices. They harm their own bodies. They suffer depression and anxiety, and hopelessness. Their suffer the abjection of those who have ceased to belong to any state.

Asylum Seekers Two SMH photo

 

Sovereignty, like religion, is a constructed knowledge imbued with faux mysticism. The Abbott government’s “Operation Sovereign Borders” appeals to this pseudo-mysticism, offering citizens the opportunity to come together in unity, led by a concerned, fatherly government to protect our nation against the breaching of its borders by the unwanted, stateless foreigner. As Douzinas points out, there can be no nation state without the foreigner; one must have someone to protect oneself from in order to maintain the perceived power of sovereignty.

The asylum seeker is equally imbued with mysticism, of the most negative kind as the assumption is peddled that merely due to the fact of her search for asylum she is morally corrupt and corrupting. Her crime is breaching sovereign borders. She is used as a scapegoat to unite citizens and strengthen boundaries, ultimately supporting the ideology of sovereignty.

What we are doing in this country is wrong. The idea that we must treat people horrifically in order to discourage others from attempting sea journeys is morally corrupt. Action the state is legitimised to take against one group can be and will be extrapolated to other groups, when the state deems it in the national interest. When the fate of human lives is secondary to the rights of the state, we are all at risk.

Is it really in the interests of the citizens of this country that so many billions of taxpayer dollars are eaten up in the pursuit and detention of a relatively few people who arrive here by boat, in the pursuit of the maintenance of our sovereign borders? No, it isn’t. It is, however, in the political interests of both major parties. The cost to the taxpayer of pursuing these political interests is obscene, and it is rising, as this graph from The Conversation shows:

 

The Conversation

 

The major parties continue to persecute stateless persons seeking asylum and refuge, solely because of their method of arrival. Australia moves further and further away from the undertakings we made when we signed and later ratified the Refugee Convention. Human beings suffer appallingly in concentration camps, out of sight and out of mind. The matter of the future of stateless persons is a massive global problem, and one that will continue to increase. Australian governments have long thought it is a problem that they can continue to outsource to countries far less capable than are we of providing the possibility of a decent life to those who by no fault of their own, are dispossessed of the lives they once had. This cannot go on. In all conscience, it cannot go on.

The end of the affair

9 Nov

Adultery

(Posts on this topic can be found consecutively in the page “Infidelity”)

When the ending came, it was brutal.

She went to bed the night before as usual, with their goodnight messages of love: Night night, lovely lady with the beautiful breasts. And their rows of kisses. The next morning he rang. She was waiting for me at 2 am when I got up for a pee, he said. She said, I know what’s going on. I’ve known from the beginning.

I can’t see you anymore, he says. I can’t talk to you anymore. She says I either end it with you or leave. I can’t leave. I can’t lose my family. If I lose my family I won’t be the man you fell in love with.

She is having trouble taking this in. She hasn’t slept for the three nights since her husband died after a prolonged illness, in the nursing home. She’s taken any number of sedatives, and drunk a fair bit as well, and nothing has even hit the sides. She keeps seeing her husband when she goes down the street. She’s on the brink of stopping some bloke in jeans and a flannelette shirt and throwing her arms round him. She’s ill. She’s in about as bad a shape as anyone can get, and still be on their feet. So if he expects her to comprehend weighty matters such as the ones he’s putting to her, he’s dreaming.

Don’t, she says. Don’t, not now I’m grieving my husband, don’t.

She hangs up on him.

Later that day or maybe the next day, she can’t recall the days, the nights, he phones again. She begs him again not to do this. Relationships end, Jennifer, he says. You’re strong.

What seems like five minutes ago she was the centre of his world. If he didn’t hear from her for a few hours he’d message that he was worried about her. If she didn’t respond he’d write: more worried. Getting anxious. Until she replied and reassured him she was all right, they were all right. Now he’s telling her, relationships end, Jennifer and her husband is dead but she keeps seeing him in the street. The combined shock is indescribable. She is numb, but not numb. She is feeling but it is chaotic, unfocused pain, like babies when they hurt one small part of themselves and feel it in their entire bodies.

She listens as he lurches between two seemingly opposed personalities. On the one hand: Relationships end Jennifer. I can’t lose my family. On the other: I love you, I miss you, it’s impossible, I don’t know what to do.

When he says, I can’t lose my family, she thinks, but they’ve been here all along. They didn’t just appear. They were here at the beginning. Why didn’t you think that then?

This is brutal, she tells him. What you are doing is brutal.

Brutal? he replies. My radical change of circumstances, getting caught, is brutal?

She begins to understand he has unquestioningly assumed that he was entitled to everything he had with her, and entitled to walk away unhampered when it became necessary. He has assumed that he was entitled to have this affair with her long as he wanted, and when he was caught he was entitled to say, relationships end, you are strong, and walk away.  The privileges accorded to him by marriage give him that entitlement he believes, without even thinking about how or why he believes it.  It’s just there. Like the sun rising and setting.

His marriage neutralises the importance of anything she might feel, because it is his marriage. Relationships end. They end four or five hours after you’ve told someone you how much you love them and their beautiful breasts. This is not brutal. This is an expedient adult response to the radical change of circumstances in a married man’s life.

She remembers this is one of the things she has at times despised about some married people, that they believe anything and anyone can be sacrificed to keep their marriages intact. If it’s that important, she’d often thought, why risk it in the first place. She sure as hell didn’t risk hers with betrayal.She abhors the way marriage can be used to justify all kinds of lousy behaviour that causes anguish to somebody else.

You aren’t the man I fell in love with anyway, she tells him. I have no idea who that man was or if he exists or ever existed. Then she hangs up the phone.

When weeks later his wife tells her he’s done it before, she begins to understand his sense of entitlement, and privileged assumptions. Obviously, he has got away with it who knows how often, his wife won’t tell her that. Obviously he has told other women I have to end it I can’t lose my family, and they’ve buggered off without much, if any protest, his wife’s taken him back and now he believes that’s all he has to do.

Then out of nowhere he rings her up and tells her he won’t leave her, not while she’s sick, not while she’s in this awful state grieving her husband. He’s told his wife she’s having a hard time and they’ll be “staying in touch.” I am being circumspect with her, he says. In this situation, she replies, circumspect is just another word for lies of omission. You are being forensic, he says, you’re making me anxious.

His wife has not reacted well to this news. She cries every morning and evening, and it emerges later that she feared every contact the lovers had would result in her husband leaving her.

At the same time, every phone call she has with her lover she expects him to tell her again he’s had another ultimatum and relationships end, Jennifer. He now has two women in a state of appalling distress.

She is not grateful for his decision to stay with her. She has lost all trust in him, she knows he can say again at any second what he has already said. She doesn’t actually want him to stay with her. She wants him to have a conversation with her in which they say goodbye. The conditions he has outlined for staying with her are outrageously selfish, and she wonders how any man could think a woman would find them acceptable. They may only have phone contact a couple of times a week when his wife is out, she must ring so it doesn’t show on his phone bill, and they may not refer to any of their former intimacy, or say anything newly intimate. They must be friends, he says, although he has just spent an afternoon telling her they can’t be friends because it’s all black and white with them, there’s no grey, it’s all or nothing. She has never understood this notion of a nano second’s transition from passionate love to just friends, and bridles at the utter dishonesty of it. He will remember everything about her, he can’t turn his head off like a tap, he will think about her just as obsessively as he always has, but they must not say anything. Nice for your wife, she says. You thinking about me every minute while you’re repairing your marriage. How will that work then?

At least he will get to hear her voice on the phone he says, and that will keep him going.

It fucking well won’t keep her going and he can get fucked, is pretty much the short version of what she tells him.

She wants to end it as well as it can be ended, because they love each other, but she is incapable of coherently conveying this, and shouts at him instead. She can’t clearly articulate what she wants at that point, but she knows it isn’t what he suggests. He tells her he can’t bear not to know what happens to her. He cries when he thinks of never seeing her again. He will keep it staggering on like a mortally wounded animal, bleeding over everything and in terminal agony before he’ll agree to say goodbye.

She does not convey her wishes to him well, because she is governed by excessive emotion and she can’t work out if her awful grief is for her husband, her lover, both, neither, and she is now running fevers every morning and evening.

I’m risking my marriage staying in touch with you, he tells her. She realises she is supposed to feel grateful that he is staying with her on his terms, as he always bloody well has.  She becomes increasingly recalcitrant and objectionable. I can’t lose my wife, he says. Relationships end, she tells him.

I don’t care about your fucking marriage, she tells him. I’d like to blow it to smithereens. Which isn’t exactly true, because if she did she’d feel she had to look after him, and she isn’t at all sure now she’d want to do that.

All she wants is a face to face conversation in which they say goodbye. She doesn’t want him to lose his wife and family. She just doesn’t want to be treated like a piece of shit he’s trying to get off his shoe so he doesn’t trail it into the marital home. He has spent countless hours poring over photos of her naked body, and now he can’t even look at her face and tell her goodbye?

No, it would seem that he can’t, and there follows months of silence that she can’t see him ending.

There is perhaps no more powerful way of staying enmeshed than refusing to say goodbye. Once you’ve said goodbye you’ve closed the book, there’s no reason to go back. Being too angry, too hurt, too mean, too afraid of the sorrow to say goodbye means you’re still there, in the worst possible way. And it’s poison.

With all the marital mess he’s got to clean up you’d think the very first thing he’d want to do is say goodbye to her, close the book, and try to put his marriage back together. If she was his wife, that’s what she’d need him to do as a sign of his good faith. If she was his wife, she’d be wondering every time she looked at him  if he was thinking about his lover. Because he has refused to say goodbye, and a wife would want to know why.

And he still hasn’t told her if he’s destroyed her naked photos.

Words of love

9 Nov

Several people have asked me, is it ethical, what you’re doing, writing about the affair, publishing his words of love to you, have you thought about the ethics of that?

Yes. In principle it could be argued that it’s unethical, even though I don’t identify him. It is a breaking of his trust, making public words of love he meant for me alone.

As long as I kept the shared secret I was joined with him in events the extent of which no other person was aware of. I did not want that bond. I won’t keep any secrets for him. I won’t allow him to think there is anything left between us that binds us.

He said, we will always have this secret, we will always have these magic memories. He said, even after he’d been caught, we can have phone calls, you can ring me when my wife is out so it doesn’t show on the phone bill but we mustn’t speak of anything intimate. We can only have one another’s voices. We will both know what we want and what we are thinking but we mustn’t say it to each other. I will still have my secret thoughts, he said. I will always have my secret thoughts.

It’s the one thing, the only thing I had left to refuse him. He’d had everything else of me. I could take nothing back.

It’s tempting to make comparisons: what he did to me versus what I can do to him, which of us is the least ethical. But that isn’t the point.

All there was left was the secret. And I’ve refused him that in the most public way available to me. There is no secret anymore. I will not give him that.

Is this ethical? Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

There’s a lot more that can be said about the ethics of writing private experiences. That’s for another post.

 

 

 

The Exotic Woman

6 Nov

Georgia O'Keefe Exotica

The exotic is: …routinely described as feminine, its riches as fertile, its main symbols the sensual woman… Edward Said. 

 

When it begins he writes, you are exotic, I’ve never met any one like you, you are from a different tribe.

It has never occurred to her to think of herself as exotic. The word signifies not only the foreign (that which is literally outside) but the intriguingly unusual, the excitingly strange, the necessarily irredeemably other. She has never thought of herself in any of those terms. Her adult sons lovingly call her a muppet.

The female body is of course in Western culture implicitly conflated with the exotic, with potential to threaten the normative masculine order. The exotic is nothing if not transgressive.

The sovereign boundaries of his marriage bend and warp under the threat of an invasion he has invited. When he later accuses her of wanting to destroy that marriage, she reminds him that it was he who began the process of marital destruction when he broke out of its confines with his first desperate kiss, like a man who has been underwater too long and explodes to the surface fighting to breathe, terrified that he has by the skin of his teeth escaped death.

She tells him, When you took my hand in the cafe you began the destruction of your marriage. And everything you have done since has built on that initial act of destruction.

She’s noticed he has a tendency to avoid taking responsibility. It’s there when he tells her, You are irresistible, that is why I’m doing this. I wouldn’t do it with anyone else. It’s you. Because you.

And it sounds to her uncomfortably like an accusation, though she imagines his intention is to express how much he loves her.

When his wife finds out, she notes wryly that in a matter of moments, perhaps seconds, he has discovered a way to neutralise her irresistibility.

I want to be inside you, he writes when he first sees the photos of her body. I want to stay there and never have to come out. I want to feed from your breasts, I want you to nourish me, heal me.

We are perfectly matched, he tells her. In our sexuality, our sensuality, our intellect. I have never felt so perfectly matched.

She attempts to internalise his gaze and see herself as he does. She gazes at her photos, wanting to see them as he does. For the first time in her life,  she experiences an awareness of the power of her female body. He writes, I worship you. I worship your cunt, your breasts, every part of you. I love the feel of your shoulder in the palm of my hand. The soft skin of your inner arm. Holding your ankle in my hand while I stroke your calf. Your skin.

His adoration of her body amazes her. She has never thought about herself in these ways, it is like discovering a hidden or repressed self, a rich discovery that floods her with an inner radiance  she feels flowing and pulsing, just under her skin.  She loses herself entirely in his visionary worship, they become lost together in her body and what it can do and feel, and desire.

After they have been together she finds her breast is bruised. His mark. She cannot, however, mark him and he says, don’t scratch me, love. Don’t scratch me.

The exotic is like dirt, or weeds. It is matter in the wrong place. Compared to hers, his life could not be more conventional. He tells her his friends live just like he does, in long marriages, always doing everything together.  He has never, he tells her, questioned the basic structure of his life, a piece of information that leaves her gobsmacked. Ever since she can remember she has questioned everything. Her life has no basic structure, it has always been liquid. He suggests that she is attracted to him because of his stability. She laughs and laughs. She has never in her personal life met a less stable man, she tells him, affectionately. Doing the same thing all your life isn’t stability, she tells him. It’s atrophy! Stability is an inner thing, a platform from which one may take risks, ask frightening questions, instigate big changes if necessary, no, my love, I’m not attracted to what you call your stability. I am attracted to the efforts you are making to break out of it.

The survival of the normative depends on the destruction of the exotic. There are many ways in which to bring about this destruction. Colonisation. Co-option. Assimilation. Shunning. Banishment. Scapegoating. In this instance he chooses to shun her, she who, only hours before he was caught, he told again of his love and desire. She who, the last time they’d met he’d found himself almost unable to leave. I can’t leave you, he said, trembling, his face contorted with pain. I can’t leave you and I have to go. This is impossible, he cried, and pulled her to him and wept into the cradle between her neck and her shoulder.

The survival of his marriage is dependent on her annihilation, that is, he must do everything he can to ignore her existence.  He loves her as he has never loved anyone. He desires her as has he has never desired anyone. He has never felt so perfectly matched.

These truths nothing can annihilate. These truths belong to the exotic.

But he belongs to his tribe.

Thou hast committed/ Fornication: but that was in another country,/ And besides, the wench is dead.

black_orchid1

All the dead horses

5 Nov

What a vile species we are. Not satisfied with mistreating and murdering one another, we let other species die in our pursuit of entertainment and spectacle.

The overworked term tragic is used to cover all contingencies, the slaughter of civilians, the rape of children, and the  untimely deaths of two magnificent animals, Admire Rakti and Araldo,  after yesterday’s Melbourne Cup. Or as the Guardian reporter puts it, “the race was soured” by these deaths.

What is sour as a barrel of lemons is the sight of animals enslaved for human gratification. I loathe bloody horse racing, and I especially loathe the Melbourne Cup. I was unfortunate enough to be passing a television when a close up of Admire Rakti’s last collapse appeared on the screen. The horse was clearly distressed in his stall, then slowly his poor legs buckled, and I watched, sickened, as he sank to the ground for the last time.  It was fucking awful.

There’s something badly wrong with us. Sadly, this isn’t news, and on the continuum of bloody awful things people do, a dead horse isn’t at the high-end.

You look at the Melbourne Cup spectacle and you think, Christ, these humans, their stupid little “fascinators,” their ugly, ill-fitting clothes, their spine-destroying  heels, red-faced men squeezed into suits and tight cravats, drooling and drunk, all of them screaming at  horses running round in a circle, what the fuck?

All that was missing was Gerry Harvey ranting about how many horses in the Melbourne Cup aren’t Australian anymore, and damn me if we didn’t get that as well.

My friend included me in a sweep. My horse? Unchain my heart. Fucking bloody Jesus, I said. Kill me now.

 

 

 

Disbelief

4 Nov

Her life has not been sheltered by any means, but she is forced to acknowledge that in the matter of extra marital affairs, she’s an idiot. For example, she’s  never understood how a partnered person invades the life of a single person and asks for a relationship. A sexual fling, a brief sexual affair where neither party wants involvement, these events are explicable, if morally fraught and painful to the betrayed. But when there’s more than that?

There’d been times during her marriage when she’d imagined being with someone else, but she knew she’d never want anyone more than she wanted her husband, and that without him she’d rather be alone. She couldn’t, she felt, enter into any affair knowing that. If one’s life is already taken up, what right does one have to invade another’s and ask for love, knowing that one has no intention of staying?

It seems to her that if her desire for another is strong, the first person entitled to know this must be her spouse. Who knows what chaos that might unleash, but  at least it remains a chaos between the couple and doesn’t trash a third life. That was how she looked at it. It didn’t feel like a moral position, more like common sense.

After her lover let his desires be known, after he took her hand in the café and gazed into her, after they’d left the café and he’d pulled her to him and kissed her mouth, she wrote to him: Perhaps this is one of those things that will readily subside, perhaps we will very quickly get it out of our systems and he replied, No. That is not our situation. It is cellular. I will only want you more and more.

In his life he was struggling with great difficulties, and his fear and need were palpable. Her desire to comfort him was great, as was her desire for comfort, her husband finally lost to her through illness. She told him she would not have a sexual relationship with him, she told him she did not want such a situation with a married man. He told her he had no sexual intimacy in his life, and hadn’t for years. Still she demurred. It might start again, she said. I have a horror of being used to supply sexual fantasies that will help you begin again. I won’t be used like that, she said. I can’t see that it would ever start again, he told her. We’ve never talked about it.

She wonders again what his life is like. She imagines sexual love ending in her marriage and neither of them mentioning it. It’s unimaginable, both that it would end, and that if it did end they wouldn’t grieve the ending and want to understand. Even at their worst times they wanted each other. Even when she visited him in his nursing home and listened to the garbled language that was all he had left of his speech, she knew he wanted the comfort of her, and she undid the buttons on her shirt and leaned into him and gave him her breasts to fondle.

She understands that people can lose desire and there are many other experiences that hold them together. She has to decide if he’s telling her the truth, she doesn’t know him well, she only has impressions of him from his work, their long written communication, his apparent values, his aura of honesty and decency.

She fails to ask herself the two most important questions. What is honest and decent about this man revealing the most intimate details of his marriage to me in the hope that I will agree to have a sexual relationship with him?

Why would a man who says he loves me ask me to take on the demeaning role of mistress, a role that can only do me harm?

I know I have no right to ask this of you, he wrote, but if you can stay, please stay.

What she suddenly understands after he rings her to say he’s been caught and it must end is that for all this time they have loved one another he has, at any moment, been ready to leave her with a phone call, an email, with any means at his disposal because for him, she has not actually been real. If she had ever been real to him, he would not have been able to disregard the myriad consequences for her of creating a mutual life that he was ready, in a heartbeat, to end.

For some reason that makes her question her intelligence, it has not occurred to her that anyone would go to such lengths to make a life of this intensity with her if he planned to abandon it at any second. The two concepts are absolutely incompatible. What kind of mind conceives of such a plan, or entirely fails to consider its consequences?

You’re a fucking bigamist, she tells him. You’ve built this life with me. You’ve left your life there in every sense but the physical, you’ve stayed there like a ghost at a banquet, every bit of you has been consumed with me, with us. Now you’ve been caught, as you put it, she’s given you an ultimatum, and you want me to disappear as if I never fucking existed.

You’re like every other married man who has an affair, she went on. Your wife finds out and you just want your lover gone, only in this instance, you’ve built a life with me, it wasn’t just some fucking sexual fling. Every word you’ve said to me, every touch, every intimate fucking moment, knowing even as you built this love with me that you would devastate my life in a heartbeat if you were caught.

How does one human being do that to another? How do you use another human being like that?

Do you think being married gives you the right to become a liar in another woman’s life?

You should not have loved me like this, and let me love you, you should not have deceived your wife by loving me this much. You should have kept it to yourself and done without me. If you knew you would leave me you should have done without me.

She lies on the kitchen floor and howls. What else is there to do?

He rings her and tells her he’s leaving her two days after her husband has died. Two days before he rings her and tells her he will never see her again, she has climbed up beside her husband on his hospital bed and whispered to him that he can let go, he can die, he doesn’t have to stay here any longer. She holds his frail body against her and whispers, my darling, let go now. He hears her. Twenty-four hours later, he has let go. She has given him perhaps the greatest gift she has ever given him. And now she must mourn.

Don’t do this, she begs her lover, I am newly grieving my husband, don’t do this, I can’t survive this much loss, don’t do this now.

As they speak, she has in front of her an email he sent the day she went to see her husband:

How worried I am about what you have to do today and how it will distress you. How beautiful you are. How sexy and sensual your body. How magic your tongue and fingers. How firm your thighs. How shapely and full your breasts. How much I love your voice. How anxious I get and how you reassure and comfort me. How well we have come to understand each other now. How good it will be to hear your voice next week. How beautiful you are. How I hope this letter will help you a little tonight. 

I didn’t choose the time to do it, he says. I was caught, my circumstances have radically changed. Relationships end. You are so strong, he says, you have survived things I could never survive.

Relationships end? The psycho babble doesn’t sound like his language, and later when his wife tells her the same thing she realises he’s been given a script with which to end their affair.

He has complained about her anger from time to time and she’s told him it isn’t anger, it’s distress, there’s a difference. She is hardly ever angry and when she is, it is as if some other being has taken her over and she is dangerous, and she doesn’t shout but the timbre of the voice he loves so much changes, and it trembles with tightly controlled fury:

How dare you. How dare you use what you know of my strength to justify what you are doing? I am strong therefore you can damage me? How dare you?

He is silent. The he says: You want to destroy my marriage.

There are words that feel like a fist to the heart.

 

 

 

 

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