I can never resist an attention seeker – Anna Spargo-Ryan

I can never resist an attention seeker

I can never resist an attention seeker

A couple of days ago, Gaz and I said words to each other, some of which I tweeted because my feelings were hurt. Gaz didn’t tweet the things I said to him, because a) he doesn’t have Twitter, and b) he wears his heart inside his jacket, whilst I’m more of a sleeve-hearter.

Some people on the internet are crusaders, fighting the good fight on behalf of others, by request or not. Emotional abuse (‘intimate terrorism’, as Nigella would say) is one of the things that people seem to feel obliged to identify and then highlight. Maybe it strikes them as something to which the abused (if there is one) is inevitably blind, or perhaps they are so clever to have uncovered something intangible (words, not fists) that they are compelled to share their cleverness with the person they believe is being abused.

Internet person, I am not in an emotionally abusive relationship.

I can tell you this unequivocally because I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship. Two of them. With men who insulted me, cheated on me, compared me to others, told me I was stupid, worthless, crazy. Men who were controlling and physically aggressive and manipulative and liars. But worse than that, for me, was the way they coped with my mental illness. Or didn’t, really. They let it become a reason to abuse me–to intimately terrorise me. It became an excuse for their behaviour; I was imagining it, misinterpreting it, “acting crazy”.

I don’t “act” crazy. Sometimes I am crazy, which is unfortunate but just life and facts. It doesn’t give anyone the right to claim that it is my fault that they are acting in a particular way. Similarly, it does not give me permission to act in a particular way. I exhibit behaviours that are a result of the illness, but that does not excuse them.

I have had boyfriends who have not understood that at all. Or worse, who have understood it, but who have exploited and manipulated it: had sex with other people behind my back and then claimed it was paranoia, or told me that no one would ever want to live with me, love me, respect me. It was a disability–sometimes for them, more than for me. I was embarrassing. I was being dramatic. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was pretending. I disappointed them, I bored them, I irritated them.

I don’t know how to tell you how monstrously painful it is to be told these kinds of things. By the time I left Michael, I was an emotional and social cripple. I went to the supermarket and the bathroom and that was all. I was a bad parent, a bad daughter, a bad friend.

Gaz is special because he doesn’t think my mental illness makes me less of a person. Instead, he uses words like “talented” and “brave”. He knows how to breathe with me to slow down my heart rate. He knows which TV to put on when I am in a black hole. He knows exactly how I’m feeling without me saying anything, and he knows how to help without instruction. When my cat died a few weeks ago, he came home from work and stroked my hair in the dark for six hours. He is an empathetic, kind man who makes me laugh every day. People who know Gaz–who have met him and talked to him and watched him in action–know this to be true.

The fact that he doesn’t believe in unwavering infatuation (like I do, because I am fairly intense and watch a lot of Nicholas Sparks movies), in the context of all of these other things, means fuck all. No attack dogs required. No fake Twitter accounts necessary. He is an excellent, excellent person who is adored by our friends and family. He doesn’t deserve to be anonymously criticised or to have his incredible patience and giant heart picked to pieces by idiots because I made an error in judgement by tweeting thirteen words that hurt me out of a conversation that was nuanced and two-sided.

It disappoints me to have to close off emotionally on the intertubes, because they have been the place I’ve gone to escape cockspanking idiots since 1996, but I’m failing to communicate the right message and, frankly, I don’t need this crap. I’ll just go back to writing about social media and News Limited for a spell.

  • John James

    December 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm Reply

    I hate the reason why you had to write this post, but it’s posts like this that remind me how much I love your blog.

    I really admire your emotional honesty!

    What I don’t admire are people who need to hide behind anonymity to express an opinion… that’s just gutless, weak, and childish!

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      December 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm Reply

      Thanks JJ :)

      And that’s the other part I haven’t written about here. I think I’m fairly emotionally open here. I talk about all things, hard and easy, and I don’t know why someone would think they needed to fight this fight anonymously. Just tell me. We can have a conversation about it. If I don’t agree with you, I won’t agree with you, but it doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily be angry with or resentful of you, you know?

      The anonymity is cowardly and vile.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      December 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm Reply

      Fear mongering, I guess.

  • Ali

    December 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm Reply

    How ridiculous.. And even if you were in an abusive relationship it’s YOUR relationship and life, and you can be however you like.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      December 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm Reply

      It’s dumb, isn’t it? Feeling entitled to dictate the way other people’s lives should be?

  • Mrs Fringe

    December 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm Reply

    Oh, Anna. I’m sorry you had this experience. I understand the need to pull back for a bit, but selfishly hope you’ll find your comfort level again. It is your honesty, in your fiction and here on the blog, that makes me smile when I know I’m about to read something of yours. I’m also very glad you have Gaz in your life, he sounds like a perfect partner for you. :)

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      December 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm Reply

      You are such a dear heart. Thank you. Maybe I can turn this into a good motivator to finish my WIP? Alternatively, to sit on the couch and eat Christmas leftovers.

      • Mrs Fringe

        December 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm Reply

        Ha! I’ve been eating leftover Christmas cookies, avoiding my WIP. Tomorrow is another day. <3

        • Anna Spargo-Ryan

          December 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm Reply

          Leftover cookies? You’re writing fiction right now ;)

          • Mrs Fringe

            December 28, 2013 at 11:59 pm

            Hah! Between Man Child and I, we made about 30 dozen cookies, 6 varieties…we’ve got a few ;)

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