Wednesday, January 24, 2007

you always hurt the ones you love

While getting ready for party #2 (of 4) this past weekend, I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6 on DVD (stay with me here, I’ve got a point). It was the episode where the 3 geeks (Warren, Jonathon, and I forget the third one) create this mind control device, use it on Warren’s ex-girlfriend, and somehow they accidentally kill her and get away with it. In the same episode, Buffy, who’s been sleeping with Spike, beats up Spike to release some tension (was she not releasing this tension while sleeping with him?). At the end, they find out that it was Warren who killed his ex-girlfriend and Buffy wisely concludes, “You always hurt the ones you love.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about this episode the next day. My mom called me during the afternoon, sounding desperate and concerned. She asked, “Have you talked to your brother?” I replied, “No.” The truth is that my brother and I don’t talk the way we used to before he got married. We only speak on holidays, birthdays, and whenever one of us needs a favor. My mom said, “Well, your brother is very upset. Apparently he and his wife had a fight over something he did and she said some awful things and your brother is very upset.” I said, “Oh.”

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised that there was a fight and I certainly wasn’t surprised that his wife said the mean things during the fight. She has this knack at talking down to you. Whether or not she means to has yet been determined (I’m banking on the former). Besides, my brother has never been a good fighter. He’d rather sit there and take in all you have to say before saying something hurtful to you. I imagine that his wife has figured this out.

So as my mom was telling me the story, I sat there and listened. She then implored, “Liz, please talk to your brother. You have this way of helping others through their problems and I know that your brother needs someone.” Really, I help people? So I told my mom, “Jesse and I are on our way to the grocery store, so I’ll do it when I get back.” Which was true. Besides, I needed some time to ask my best friend what he thought.

I told Jesse the story of what my brother had done and what was said during their fight and Jesse said, “Sounds like your brother just needs someone to talk to.” So then I offered a prediction. I said, “Say you have a friend that you know is in an unhealthy relationship. This friend is unhappy and trapped. And so you’re there for her. You listen to your friend and offer advice to help your friend deal. And then one day, your friend and her boyfriend have a huge fight and horrible things are said and they break up. And you tell your friend that this is good and you help her cope. And then a little while later, they get back together and everything is as it was. All that advice that you gave your friend was for nothing. She’s going to do what she wants to do. That’s exactly what’s going to happen here.” Jesse replied, “Well maybe not everything will be as it was.” Yeah, maybe.

So after putting away our newly-purchased groceries (yay, there’s food in the fridge again), I called my brother. Sounding just fine, my brother asked, “What’s up?” I replied, “Not much, what’s up with you? Mom said you were going through some stuff and maybe you needed to talk.” My brother answered, “Oh yeah, C and I had a fight, but we talked about it and everything’s ok now.” Hmmm…just as I had predicted. I said, “Well, if you ever need to talk, I’m here.” My brother said nonchalantly, “Oh, ok, thanks.”

I got off the phone and started thinking. I thought back to all the arguments I’ve had with my mother…the awful things we’ve said to each other. I thought about my relationship with Jesse…the hurtful things I’ve inadvertently said. Let’s give my brother’s wife the benefit of the doubt here and say that she didn’t intend to say such unkind words to my brother—why would she say them? When you love someone, don’t you want to prevent them from feeling any kind of pain, especially emotional pain? Why then do we sometimes find ourselves to be the source of that pain? Why do we lash out to the people closest to us?

Does this mean that you really do hurt the ones you love?

No comments: