Is it justifiable to abuse the one who abuses you? Or does that simply lower you to their level of ethical lack? What happens when someone takes a punch or three because they perhaps consider it a price worth paying to manipulate the physically abusive individual into doing precisely what they want them to do...
Who, then, is the aggressor, or are they both equally culpable?
Do they just deserve each other, and what they get? Should we leave them to wallow in their vicious cycle of misery?
I once had a very heated conversation about whether or not it was possible to save someone who did not want to be saved. Like the drowning person who in their panicked frenzy bludgeons their rescuer almost senseless, the one being saved resorted to verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse to avoid the enlightenment that would lead to their personal healing.
My argument was that they would save themselves, or not, but that nobody could do it for them regardless of how much they cared or wanted to. They would save themselves when they were ready, and to attempt to force them would only make them resist all the more fiercely.
Does it depend on how strong your loyalty or devotion is? Are the wounds worth the effort?
|Sandalwood mala, bloodstone amulet.|
Not terribly unlike a lyche, really.
I still find it difficult to justify. I feel quite strongly that persons with such severe damage should not be in an intimate relationship with anyone but themselves. But if they want intimacy to distract them, they'll find it somewhere. A drowning person will grab onto anything they can find, regardless of who or what it is. It's one of the first and most important lessons a lifeguard learns: make sure what they grab isn't you.
You need to have a line which you will not cross. You need to know when to back off and surrender your efforts to more capable persons. You need to know when to get them help whether they want it or not--the issue of suicide prevention is a large part of this, both in the military and civilian sectors.
That whole conversation is coming back to me in full force. Not a discussion of legalities, but of ethics. Those ethical struggles from the past are relived in vivid clarity and tear at me. The quandaries that have no clear answers, no cut and dry simplistic solutions. Watching someone willingly submit to abuse because they choose it, over and over, just to try saving someone from themselves... It's a difficult thing to witness. Is it still abuse? Does their conscious, voluntary involvement negate the culpability of the abuser?
Caretakers and spouses of combat veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and combat-induced post traumatic stress go through some of this, to varying degrees. Persons caught in that vicious cycle of abuse and nonexistent self esteem, a form of PTSD in its own right, go through this as well. The symptoms are similar, yet the situations may be so highly deviated as to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. I'm not calling anything black or white.
In my mind it's all mist and smoke, gun-metal gray and charcoal.
But it's also impossible for me to tackle the creation of this story without engaging the shards of my own life experiences and weaving them into the words as well. So I've had to create some reinforcements of my own. Of sandalwood, and bloodstone, and bronze. To anchor and ground, to shield me from the negativity and dark thoughts that I must wallow through to forge this story. A bit of self love to refuel my tank, so that this labor doesn't sputter out before it's finished.