I think our conception of evil has changed. I mean, evil isn’t what we think it is; it doesn’t look the way we expect it to look.
I am thinking now of a woman with brown hair. She was in my religious group. She married early, and immediately had three children, one after another.
There are various details that could follow this description; I shall elide them for space.
I thought for a long time that this woman with brown hair was a more spiritual being than I was. She was constantly serene. Her face was a mask of genial smiling. She had, in some ways, taken pity on her husband, who was from a background stigmatized by her religion. For the most part, he did what she wanted him to do. I do not think his suffering was wholly conscious, because he had been raised in the midst of drug use, and under the shadow of three abusive marriages. He did not notice his lack of weight in the relationship.
Some years after I stopped encountering this brown-haired woman, and before I finished studying abuse, I began to wonder, for the first time, if this overtly spiritual mother was as grand as she seemed.
I started to remember how our friendly conversations had revolved around her experiences, not mine. I started to remember how often she had failed to show any interest in my being as an independent self. We were thrown together a lot; I formed, for some months before her marriage, her main friend. I began to feel used.
I started to wonder what the brown-haired woman’s life would look like, after she told her husband what to do for forty years. I began to wonder how her children would turn out, if she treated all of them the way she treated me–as an extension of her experience of life.
I don’t think she is a good person.
I think she is a bad person.
I think she is selfish.
I think she creates eddies in the living energy of the people around her.
I think she is too selfish to create a net positive result.
I think she is too apt to take advantage of proffered assistance.
I think she is, in fact, manufacturing lures to invite proffered assistance.
I think she is a poor mother, and a poorer wife.
I think she will end badly.
And I am glad that I live far away from her now.
I do not understand how the fact of sexually reproducing is expected to transform a female being into a paragon of personable qualities. I have known personable women; they went to exhausting effort to become and to maintain their personableness. Motherhood added an overwhelming burden of obligation and expectation, but, if anything, created more opportunity for the mother to succumb to the temptation to give up on being good, and to become a predator.
I am suspicious of serene mothers with chaotic children; I believe those are children who are being used as props, bait, and living stuffed bears for the comfort and emotional aid of their mothers and fathers.
But hey, maybe I’m the evil one. I’m sure it’s not my business to find out.
Remember that other mother, whose parents had so devastated her personality that she reproduced and gave up her children for supervised visits with her abusers?
Yeah, I think her husband is using her. I can’t figure out how a man could not see that a woman was so shattered without being some species of abuser himself.
And that’s sad.