The Unbearable Kindness


He made me feel sorry for him. It was one of his strongest defenses. Whenever I began to question his treatment of me, instead of responding he would tell me about horrible things that had happened to him. He would cry. I mean full-on weep about being bullied as a child (he did not get the irony that he was a current adult and I a minor), talk about his family’s dysfunctions, his own time spent in institutions. All of this drowned out my protests, making my voice smaller and smaller as the waves of his emotions flooded my lungs.


It was such a strange turn around- me crying after he raped me, and then him weeping and asking me for comfort. I would have his head in my lap, and feel like I needed to tell him it was okay. The thing is, an adult can outsmart a child every time. I had no prior experience with which to gauge the level of his utter bullshit.


And then there was the unbearable kindness. It would crush me with guilt. It would give me pause before I said anything against him. He would grandly proclaim his love for me. He praised my smallest accomplishments. He gave me gifts. I liked what he liked. I was less sure what I liked if you took him out of the equation. If I expressed interest in anything he didn’t like, he made sure I knew it was stupid and I was mistaken. He would overlook my lapses in judgment because I was, after all, so young.


The kindness extended to the crying times. He would try to repair my wounds. He would cry and apologize. He would fold me into his muscular arms and hold me while he prayed for our souls, or just say he was sorry. Or he would softly blame me with compliments- I was too pretty; he could not control himself around me. He would lie and tell me he needed to hurt me so he wouldn’t hurt anyone else (Liar-he raped others). I was special, and he loved me so very much.


I think the kindness was one of the most dangerous aspects to the abuse. When I was trying to learn good people from bad people, I didn’t realize bad people could be nice. I thought they were always obviously bad- walking around with horns or something. His kindness made it hard to throw him into the BAD category where he belonged. People liked him. He had friends. I had to learn that people have both good and bad qualities, and that sometimes what appears good is actually bad.


Rapists can give gifts. They can have friends. They can wear stylish clothing. They can be charming. But I won’t ever listen to their crying again.