‘F’ is for more than Forgiveness

A re-run from last year.

I didn’t quite know how to take a video clip that was BB’ed to me recently: A preacher declaring that the “new F-word” in his church is “forgiveness,” and exhorting the congregation to tell the person next to them, “F-you!” Well, while the jury has gone upstairs to determine whether that was cute or crass, I’m taking the opportunity to slip through with a few F-words of my own.

Not long ago, while at the hairdresser’s, I listened in on a discussion about a couple who, in her words, were afflicted with the Three F’s syndrome: the other “F-word,” used in place of “fornication;” “fight;” and “funeral.” I was intrigued, my imagination piqued; but I certainly didn’t know how I could introduce the phrase into this column. Thanks to the preacher, I now can. But we’re not going to talk etymology today; we’re going to talk psychology, because I know a couple of twosomes to whom this problem applies, and, to be honest, I worry about the men and fear for the women… .

Now, when I was growing up, my mother used to speak about the desirability and benefits of peace, because her three youngest – among whom I sit firmly in the middle – could, at times, be war-ish. “Let peace reign, nuh,” she would beg of us. “Look at me: I can live with the devil in hell, because I don’t have to answer to every little thing.” And so on and so forth; all of which would fall on deaf ears, since we just had to respond, whether with quiet sarcasm, shouted counter-accusations, or, until we were out of the teen years, pushes, shoves and fisticuffs.

Well, it seems that some people never outgrow that kind of behaviour and the prized objective of peace never becomes their pursuit. In other words, they just love melee, confusion, strife, excitement. Nothing is ever nothing, as everything becomes something to escalate to the next, more dangerous, level. A dish left in the sink can turn from domestic science into a domestic incident involving the police, the ambulance, and the courts. Which is bad enough. But where it becomes worse is when this vicious cycle is resolved – over and over again – in the bedroom. This morning, they were sworn enemies and, by tonight, they are swearing undying love, since these two cussing and clawing people can never leave well enough, or each other, alone.

With this type of co-dependency, the sex and violence are the yin and yang of the relationship; and no matter what onlookers might think or say to the couple about “this is not good enough,” they know better. For they thrive on the thrill, the drama, the “high” they get from the conflict; and a peaceful, orderly existence is like a prison, at best, like death, at worst. So, whenever life seems to be getting to what regular people call “normal,” they need to liven it up with “two wud,” three thumps, and sex until foreday morning.

Ok, so we’ve all said – and some even believe – that the best part of fighting with your man is the making up. But talk is cheap. Personally, I cannot imagine how sexy I could feel, how attracted I could be, for or to a feller who just opened his five fingers across my face or drove his fist below my navel. Unless, of course, I’m as power-driven as he is. Because, face it, Sisters: This type of relationship is usually about power. The feller might derive some satisfaction from exercising his greater physical strength, yes; but there are many women out there who also enjoy the fact that they, personally, can drive a man to such behaviour.

When a man says, plaintively, while cradling his bruised knuckles, “You see what you made me do?” there are sisters out there who give a little smile – because a wide grin would split their lips further – and think, with perverse pleasure, “Look at how I have him!” They revel in their power to make an otherwise sane man; a man who was raised much better by his mother and granny; a man who resolved the last time that it was, indeed, the last time, descend from human to beast.

And while you or I might despise the feller, saying that he could simply have “walked away,” the twisted sister derives a queer sense of affirmation from the fact that he opts to stand and fight. For, in her eyes, walking away is not proof of a man’s strength, but his indifference; hence, if he hits her, it proves, without a doubt, that he loves her, that she is important to him. And if the violence ends with reconciliation between the sheets, then her ego is stroked even further, for then she can tell herself, “He can’t leave this.”

This is not to say that the fighting is all one-sided and the woman is always the victim. Far from it. I once knew a woman (and may have told you about her already) who picked fights to keep her man engaged. He was an ambitious feller determined to rise above his beginnings, and as he studied and rose, career-wise, he began to look for bigger and better things that reflected his new status; but she couldn’t – or wouldn’t – keep up. So, in order to bring him back to who/where he had been and who/where she still was, she would fight him like a dog, going as far as ripping up his uniforms and burning his textbooks, after which she would attack him with the same passion in bed.

Lucky for him, when she opened his cheek with a dinner fork, they were living in the United States, where the law doesn’t look the other way. I don’t know whether it was the stitches or the counseling that gave him the strength to walk away and to stay gone, but I believe that is what saved him, ultimately, from a funeral and her from 25 to life – or vice versa… .

Unfortunately, Sisters and Fellers, we live in a place where domestic violence is seen as “just a man-and-woman story;” accordingly, I invite you to write a similar ending to your tale by adding another “F-word” and, this time, let it be “Farewell.”

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