So, I saw this still from an episode of the Simpsons yesterday and it had me ruminating about the fact that I call myself a witch.
I guess I do – and have for a long time – seen myself as confident and powerful. Recognizing that I had been a victim of domestic abuse and exploitation didn’t change that feeling. Feeling crushed under the weight of my own mental health issues didn’t really change that feeling.
I have the distinct impression my ex felt like he had a tiger by the tail and that at any moment that tiger might turn around and bite him. It’s one reason he was so sneaky and underhanded about the abuse – choosing sleep deprivation to punish me, executed in a way that gave him plausible deniability.
This, in turn, had me remembering how I saved his life. In 2011/2012, my ex developed symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. They were so alarming to him that eventually he started to talk about them, just a little, to me. He didn’t want to go to a professional and get a formal diagnosis, though, because he was afraid it would prevent him from his current career pursuits. He wanted to be an analyst for law enforcement.
I turned to the internet and found out that there were medical conditions that could cause symptoms like paranoid schizophrenia. I found a DO, which I felt might make him more comfortable with seeing a doctor – they would want to do tests and find out what might be happening, rather than leap to a diagnosis based on symptoms. He agreed to go, and even though he wouldn’t tell the DO the full extent of his symptoms, she had his B12 tested and found out he was severely deficient. (B12 deficiency can cause paranoid schizophrenia.) If he hadn’t sought treatment, he probably would have been dead within a year.
Well, helping someone that turns out to be bloody ungrateful is very witch-like, so. 🤷♀️
What stood out to me at the time, and which I hadn’t really talked about to anyone, was the fact that most married people that develop symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia from something like a B12 deficiency become paranoid that their spouse is cheating on them. That’s not how my ex’s symptoms manifested.
He had episodes of sleep paralysis and saw the hag. Only, the hag was me. One day, seeming to be fairly distraught, he described how he’d woken up and even though I was sleeping next to him, I was also a figure at the end of the bed, watching him, full of malice towards him. He felt like the figure – the figure that was me – intended to harm him.
All of this was concurrent with my pregnancy with C, and played a part in what happened after she was born. She failed to thrive – a few weeks after her birth she was crying, constantly. It didn’t matter what I did, she just kept crying. I couldn’t accomplish anything, really, because there was no way for me to concentrate with my newborn crying all the time. I had to ask my ex for help with things I normally would have handled myself. He, meanwhile, more or less continued life as he had. He was intending to go to his LARP game one weekend, and I think I asked him to help me out with something before he left.
He became instantly angry and stormed out of the room, hissing that he felt like I was smothering him – leaving me utterly dumbfounded.
At the time, all of that was quite hurtful and bewildering to me. Now, of course, as a writer I’m entertained by the idea of an abusive man seeing the psychic manifestation of his sleeping wife’s witch soul and understanding his days were limited, because the witch soul was awake and aware even if the witch’s mind remained oblivious.
C’s failure to thrive turned out to be because I couldn’t produce enough milk to feed her, a thing that had never happened with my previous children. Severe stress was the culprit. Problem diagnosed, I supplemented with formula until I could switch back to breastfeeding exclusively. My ex went to the DO, got his diagnosis, got treated, and if he continued to have any symptoms of the deficiency, he no longer spoke with me about them.
I am just sitting here now appreciating the fact that it seems he knew all along that his choice to use and exploit me had put him in a situation he might fail to keep control of, and that one day his victim might feel like getting retribution. No wonder he’s been acting like I must have some kind of nefarious scheme up my sleeve, a hammer I’m about to drop on his head.
Ahh, the story ideas flowing into me now. He’s fighting the psychic manifestation of my witch soul. He’s feeling the increasing weight of the curse placed on him while he was in the throes of sleep paralysis.
The real explanation, of course, is honestly even more delicious – I will never need to lift one pinky finger to make the man suffer, because he’s locked in a mental prison with his own skulking fears, and he’ll never develop the self-awareness to see his own responsibility for his suffering. He won’t see how he could change and make better choices and maybe experience happiness again.
I wouldn’t need to make him suffer even if I wanted to, because he’s handling that himself 24/7.