Editorial note: this is Part 3 of an essay series that started with “When fathers love their children more than Crazy” and “And the children of Crazy? “Crazy” meaning the crazy woman in a man’s life.–DE
Like you, no doubt, I have had many relationships in my life of different kinds – within the family, with friends, with lovers, with acquaintances and with work colleagues, including those I reported to and those who reported to me. And, yes, there has also been contact with authorities and shopkeepers and servers in restaurants, but at first sight those types of contact aren’t really relevant to this particular argument, except for me to observe in passing that my Crazy ex-wife was as likely to attack them as anyone else. She once got thrown bodily out of the French Embassy in London for raging at an official there, and was nearly arrested at an airport for confronting the security officials who wanted to scan her bag that had homeopathy in it; and shopkeepers, restaurant servers and suppliers were far from a no-go zone for her fury. You’ll get my second sight on this, or rather my wife Kathleen’s second sight on this, later.
Many of those longer-term relationships I have had have been neutral. I haven’t been much interested in their lives and opinions, and they haven’t been much interested in mine. If there has been any disagreement, it has been of short duration, followed by our ignoring and avoiding each other as much as possible thereafter.
In the case of the people I have wanted a closer, more intimate relationship with, there have been many near-misses. Psychologically, chemically, ideologically, or whatever, we have been slightly out of calibration with each other. There has been a lot going for us but something has been misaligned between us, leading to a certain amount of mutual goodwill mixed with another portion of mutual wariness. These relationships have appeared to have promise but have also been deeply frustrating, maybe for both of us. There have been arguments, even heated and passionate arguments, but we have usually both been keen to diffuse the bad feeling and seek a more tranquil stability, usually at increasingly arms length. I have never done it, but I can imagine that when marginally mismatched couples divorce, there is a reasonable amount of anger and resentment that has to be worked through, the emphasis here being on the fact that these emotions are reasonable. The ex-couple may end up not talking to each other at all, but they end up not talking to each other amicably, if you see what I mean, as my wife Kathleen once commented about the break up of her first marriage. There were no long-lasting vendettas, just the realization that there was nothing left to say to each other, so it was much wiser not to try.
I have also had several near-perfect relationships in my life: with my mother, with all my siblings, with several friends, and now with my wife, Kathleen. When I returned home from my private boarding school during vacations, there was always a level of testiness between my mother and me for a few days while we checked each other out again, then we returned to our highly companionable norm for the rest of the vacation, with no arguments, no fuss and no need to try to please each other. Our mutual presence pleased both of us without the slightest effort having to be made on either side. With one of my sisters I cannot remember having had a single argument in sixty years and it has been far from a shallow relationship. With the other sister I remember one argument in sixty years when I got enraged by the position she was taking on prison policy – but that’s it, one argument that was never mentioned again, and she has probably forgotten it. With my brother I once deliberately antagonized him until he chased me around the yard, whereupon my parents sent me to bed for misbehavior, and quite right too.
Since marrying my wife Kathleen we have inadvertently upset each other perhaps six times in three years, a situation we have both immediately sought to remedy, and neither of us has ever deliberately started an argument with the other. We had a massive fall-out before we were married – one provoked, and indeed engineered, by Crazy – during which I behaved exceptionally badly, but once the issue was resolved between us, it was resolved, and we started planning to get married. Some of the best marriages I have ever seen have witnessed a major breakup immediately prior to the couple deciding to get married and live happily ever after, don’t ask me why.
Received wisdom is that all relationships require a great deal of tolerance and effort on both sides. That has not been my experience. Near-perfect relationships are incredibly easy. You both want each other to be an intimate part of your lives, so you will be, God willing.
My relationship with Crazy, my ex-wife “Rafaella,” was nothing like any of the above situations. After a period of seemingly total mutual compatibility, she switched onto a war footing and never left it for more than a few hours at a time. She didn’t want a peaceful relationship, she wanted war. She even said that a relationship without blood on the ground wasn’t a real relationship at all, it was a sham, a front to convince other people that everything was okay. Whereas in every other relationship I have ever had, good, bad or indifferent, there has been a matching strong desire to bring any conflicts to an end sooner or later, Rafaella never had the slightest desire to either avoid confrontation or to reduce it. Some points of contention between us lasted nearly twenty years and were as heated immediately prior to our final separation, and even beyond it, as when they first started.
I often commented that we had probably had a million arguments between us, of which I had possibly started five, which might be an exaggeration depending on whether the question, “Can we afford to buy that?” can fairly be viewed as deliberately starting an argument. When I said this, Rafaella would inevitably counter that while I had only started five of the arguments, my misbehavior had provoked the other 999,995. She even once phoned the police to complain that I was forcing her to hit me because of my provocative ways, like not putting the children to bed on time or failing to anticipate her needs – what, all of them?
So, from my experience, a relationship with Crazy is not remotely the same thing as a bad relationship, even a very, very bad relationship. It is not a matter of quantity, it is a matter of quality. Crazy is … well, crazy. She (although it could equally be a ‘he’) is not seeking peace, she is seeking war. Appeasement and reconciliation are the last things she wants; she wants total capitulation. Rafaella hates the word ‘compromise’ and it infuriated her if she thought I was conceding to her demands by way of appeasement or compromise. She didn’t want compromise, she wanted wholehearted agreement that she was right.
The psychological community uses many terms to try to define and explain the source of Crazy’s behavior – psychopathic, sociopathic, BPD/NPD, hysterical, high conflict etc. I prefer ‘inhuman.’ Crazies simply do not have the usual attachments, emotions or mechanisms designed to achieve social harmony that exist in ordinary human beings. Nor am I using ‘inhuman’ as a synonym for ‘cruel’: human beings can certainly be cruel and careless of acts of cruelty, but these are usually targeted at members of other species – killing and eating other animals, for example.
Whatever the genetic makeup, Crazies are actually a member of another species entirely, possibly humanoid, but definitely not human, and they probably have more in common with sharks and other such apex predators who don’t have any feelings for human beings at all, they just want to eat us (and sometimes each other). They don’t hate us, whatever the frenzied churning; we are just food.
So my guess is that if you are asking yourself what you have contributed to this very, very bad relationship with a Crazy, as I have done too many times to count, the answer is that you don’t have a very, very bad relationship at all in the normal sense, you have a relationship with a Crazy, and the big mistake we have all made is to remain in Crazy’s immediate environment more than a few seconds. If she can’t sniff your blood – which is much more easily said than achieved – she will eventually swim off on the trail of somebody else’s. She will always resent not having been able to continue to devour the excellent meal that your fleshy presence provided her with, but she still has to eat, so she will need to find another victim. As far as I can tell, Rafaella’s third husband is such a victim, as was I, as was her first husband. Her modus operandi has never changed, although she may tire over time, not that there is the slightest evidence of Rafaella doing so yet.
And what is the lesson of the restaurant server, chamber maid or shopkeeper I promised you at the beginning of this article? My wife, Kathleen, whose mother is a Crazy and who worked for over twenty years in CPS with abusive families, counsels that should you ever see someone you want a relationship with being abusive to a restaurant server, a chamber maid or someone in that position, run. You will now know all you will ever need to know about them at that moment. Decent, sane people don’t kick passing strangers, ever.