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Eric: How does someone even come up with a title for a post like this one?

Wrestling, to me, is something I associate with my big friend Frank.

Who, you will recall, I always refer to as "my big friend Frank." And have ever since the day he military pressed me over his head. Never being small myself, I became impressed with his massive muscularity. Frank is a refined man. An intelligent man. A gentle man. But a very physical and powerful man, as befits an alumnus of the South Philly streets.

It was on those streets, and at the Philadelphia Spectrum, that Frank developed his lifelong love of professional wrestling. At the Spectrum, Frank would see then-road agent Gorilla Monsoon at the gate. Gorilla -- with a keen eye for business and for building relationships -- remembered the Philly kid and would talk to him on the way in. "You still mad about what the Sheik did to Bruno?" Gorilla would ask. "You watch tonight, kid. I bet you'll go home happy. Bruno's mad."

And Frank did go home happy.

By the late eighties and early nineties, when Frank and I shared a couple of apartments in the Ithaca area, wrestling was one of those Things Frank Did. And for several months I mocked him mercilessly over it. This was stupid. This was asinine and ridiculous. Why do you watch this stuff.

Until Wrestlemania V, anyway, and a match between Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, and Owen "The Blue Blazer" Hart. A match that was a stunning display of mat skills, of hardcore technical wrestling instead of brawling. I was blown away as I watched them go. And for months, I was glued to my set whenever a mat technician was on the screen.

Frank, being my best friend and being sensitive, mocked me with twice the energy I mocked him before. "Seems like my friend Eric's a rasslin' fan," he'd say, snickering. And he was right.

The gigantic guys didn't usually interest me, though. There were exceptions. We liked the Road Warriors in their prime. In a later era I marked out hard for Bill Goldberg. But you needed a certain charisma to be a big guy and still engage my interest in the ring.

Not so for the mat wrestlers. What another era called the technical wrestlers. Not the high fliers -- the crusierweights or luchadores, though I enjoy that style too. No, these were the mid-sized guys, who could wrestle an hour match and make a story out of it.

Owen Hart was great at it. But now he's dead -- fallen from the top of an arena during a pay per view. Curt Hennig was great at it, but he's dead too. Bret Hart was one of the best at it in his generation, but a concussion followed by a stroke put him out of the game. Dean Malenko, the iceman, was one of my favorites. He was a "crusierweight" who didn't go to the top rope. His gimmick was he knew every damn mat hold on the planet, and he could chain them together in an amazingly interesting story. He's not dead, but he's retired -- working as a road agent now, just like the Gorilla, once upon a time.

Eddie Guerrero was great at it. Really freaking great. But then he died of heart failure, years after he kicked his substance abuse problems, but still paying the price for the damages he'd wreaked on his internal organs.

And Chris Benoit was great at it.

This is a hard essay to write.

It's hard because I liked Chris Benoit. I liked him a lot. He was everything that I watched wrestling for. He was tough and smart in the ring, a good "ring general," who could take anyone, with any physique, and build a good match out of him. Like the Nature Boy Ric Flair, Benoit could have a sixty minute match with a broom and take your breath away the whole time.

I liked his personality. Benoit didn't have the kind of charisma a lot of wrestlers had. He could cut an okay promo, but in the end he let his ring work speak for him. And it held him back for a lot of years. He was the best damn wrestler in the building, but he didn't have the size that made you a top star without needing mike skills, and he didn't have the sheer mike skills that made you a star without needing the size. He was the darling of wrestling critics and serious fans of the form, though. Fans who were pissed that he kept being passed over for the top of the card.

This is a hard essay to like, because I liked Chris Benoit. He was a hard worker, and utterly unselfish in the ring. If he was booked to win, he still made his opponent look good. If he was booked to lose in a hard fight, he made his opponent look either superhuman or like a total bastard (depending on what was needed). If he needed to be destroyed for a storyline, he laid the fuck down without whining.

When Bret Hart wrestled a match for the first time in the arena his brother Owen died, the WCW management let him do an old style mat match -- a full length match, taking out all the stops. A match style almost unheard of during the height of the Monday Night Wars.

Bret chose to wrestle it with Chris Benoit. And it stands out as one of the best wrestling matches I've ever seen.

I liked Chris Benoit.

So did Frank. Frank liked him a lot. Benoit was of the old school. He's one of those guys who'd have fit in during the days of Gorilla and the Philadelphia Spectrum. If you were a serious fan, you wanted him to do well.

And ultimately, he did. He took titles. He took tag championships in ECW. He got the WCW World Heavyweight belt, the World Tag belts, the World Television Title, and the United States Heavyweight Championship. And in WWE, he took the tag belts, the United States Championship, the Intercontinental championship, the World Heavyweight Championship and he won the God damned Royal Rumble. Belts could come and go, but you only had one Royal Rumble winner in a year, and that winner had to carry storylines for the first quarter to third of the year. A Royal Rumble winner was expected to headline at Wrestlemania, and there's nothing bigger in a wrestling promotion.

Benoit did it by being a damn good wrestler. Nothing more, nothing less.

I liked him. Frank liked him. A lot of people liked him. And Hell, I don't know anyone who hated him.

Well, Kevin Sullivan wasn't his biggest fan. Sullivan was a wrestler and promoter, and one of the last bookers of WCW. Sullivan booked his wife, Nancy Daus, into a romantic triangle with Benoit. One that became real -- Benoit ultimately married her. And when Sullivan got the book in WCW, he actually booked Benoit to become champion. And the same night that Benoit won the belt for the first time in WCW was the night that Benoit and his friends in the "Revolution" made the jump to the WWE. A jump made in large part because even as a champion, Benoit couldn't see himself wrestling under Sullivan's book. And without a doubt Benoit flourished in the WWE.

A note, before we go on, about Nancy Daus. This was a woman I remembered fondly from her days as a heel manager in WCW, her era as "Woman," as one of the real prototypes of the modern wrestling diva. Nancy Daus could play a face, switch to a heel, and sell both roles and the transition. It's a damn hard skill, much prized in the modern era, and she's one of the pioneers of it. She was beautiful, a good actress, able to take a bump (a prized skill in women managers of her era) and able to sell both that bump and her 'interference' in matches. She was good at what she did, and deserves mention.

God, she deserves mention. Writing an essay about Chris Benoit without writing about Nancy Daus would be unthinkable now, because Benoit....

Man, I don't want to write this.

Last week, as near as we can tell, Chris Benoit suffocated his 7 year old mentally handicapped child to death. One of the current prevailing theories is he actually applied a wrestling choke hold to his seven year old son until his son died. He bound the hands and feet of Nancy Daus, his wife, and then asphyxiated her. And then, probably a day or two later, Chris Benoit set bibles next to the corpses of his wife and child, went down to his gym/basement, and hung himself with the cord off one of his weight machines.

A brutal crime. A horrific double murder followed by a suicide. The man killed his wife and seven year old son. And then hung around with the bodies for a couple of days.

When I heard the news that Chris Benoit was dead, it hurt. Another wrestler I really liked was dead way too soon.

When I heard that he died after killing his wife and son....

It is horrifying. It is monstrous. It is the kind of crime you can't easily put into words, no matter how much you want to or need to.

And it made all the worse because I liked Chris Benoit. I rooted for him. I enjoyed watching him wrestle. He seemed like a decent guy. A stand up joe. And he killed his mentally retarded seven year old son.

It's not just me. Frank described himself as stunned. And the wrestling world went into shock. The day that the tragedy was announced, the WWE canceled Monday Night Raw and aired a tribute to Chris Benoit. They've taken some heat for that since, now that we know that Benoit killed his wife and son, but at the time I don't think the WWE could have truly known that. And I know that they weren't thinking clearly. Benoit was liked in the company. In the locker room. And they've become sadly good at putting together tributes and retrospectives of "superstars" who die way too god damned early.

They have apologized, of course, though any number of wrestlers still can't get their heads around it. The death of young Daniel Benoit in particular horrifies everyone. Bret Hart mentioned how Chris Benoit worshipped his son -- a popular refrain.

The son he killed. Very possibly using a wrestling hold.

WWE's made some errors since then. They've published a vehement defense against the idea that Benoit was suffering from "roid rage." Unfortunately, such a defense, coming after the tribute episode, makes the company seem like it's doing damage control -- like the last thing they wanted was steroid use by a wrestler conflated with the murder of a defenseless child. That's the worst thing they can do, because now people are going to conflate those two things -- and question whether or not the WWE had pressured Chris Benoit to take steroids.

This is not an accusation on my part. I hope to God they didn't, because if they did, with a child dead now? As a publicly traded company? That could mean the end of the WWE in its current form. Honestly. You don't mess with the SEC with a child lying dead.

And Nancy Daus. The beautiful, talented, saavy Nancy Daus. Who once started divorce proceedings against Benoit but later retracted them.

She's dead.

Daniel Benoit is dead.

Chris Benoit is dead.

God help me, I don't know how to feel. I don't know what to do. I liked Chris Benoit.

It's going to be awfully hard to despise him. But would anything else be appropriate? Nancy Daus and Daniel Benoit are dead. And he did it.

He did it.

Somehow, that match in tribute to Owen Hart? Seems less impressive now. Everything seems less impressive now.

I don't know. This sucks.

All my thoughts and hopes with those left behind. With a family in shock. With friends who are feeling a thousand times worse than I am. With the hardcore fans who are feeling just as conflicted now. With the coworkers who are dealing with their grief over Chris Benoit at the same time as they are trying to reconcile their horror at the terrible thing he did.

Hell, I feel badly for Vince McMahon right now. No matter what sketchy things he's done in the past, he would never, ever want a seven year old child to die. I believe that with all my heart. And he's going to be the only man in all of this to have to show accountability. Because this is a monstrous crime -- as black and dark and horrible a crime as we can imagine, the murder of one's helpless disabled child, the binding up of one's wife to make her helpless and then murdering her, and then committing suicide after it is done -- and people will want resolution. They will want to know why this happened, and what would make Chris Benoit, this guy we all liked, into a hideous monster.

And they're going to look at McMahon, because he plays a bad guy on television, and he's done sketchy things in real life in the past. And because we don't have anyone else to look at. Because the man who killed Nancy Daus and Daniel Benoit is dead, so we can't get any resolution there.

It's not fair. I think McMahon would be repulsed by the very thought of a father killing his son. But the best case scenario will now focus on the schedule that Benoit was working -- all those days on the road in the year, the lack of an "off-season" either in television terms or in sports terms. All the physical stress of wrestling. The need, sometimes, to use steroids just to recover, without even using them to bulk up.

Right now, all those questions are going to be asked of WWE management. Shareholders are going to want answers. And because WWE is a publicly traded company, so is the SEC and possibly other federal investigators. Because a seven year old boy is dead, and so is a woman who was tied up first. And it's their father who did it. Their father, who was missing a pay per view wrestling event at the time. An event he was going to headline.

So yeah. I feel really badly for Vince McMahon right now. This is a dark day.

Most of all?

I feel badly for Frank. Because deep inside Frank is the kid who used to talk to Gorilla at the Spectrum.

And that kid isn't going to understand this. Because the next time the WWE comes to town, no one's going to make it better. No one's going to get revenge. No one's going to redeem the darkness or beat the evil.

We're all just going to have to live with it.

And that sucks.

Rest in peace, Nancy Daus and Daniel Benoit.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at June 28, 2007 8:00 AM

Comments

Comment from: Snowspinner [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 9:04 AM

You are capable of moving me deeply with an essay in which I do not even understand half the words in some of the paragraphs.

(Seriously - what does " Nancy Daus could play a face, switch to a heel, and sell both roles and the transition. It's a damn hard skill, much prized in the modern era, and she's one of the pioneers of it. She was beautiful, a good actress, able to take a bump (a prized skill in women managers of her era) and able to sell both that bump and her 'interference' in matches. She was good at what she did, and deserves mention." mean?)

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 9:36 AM

I liked Benoit as well -- he was a great example of a Dungeon graduate, an old-school wrestler. I haven't watched wrestling in a long time (WWE sort of diluted some of the more interesting elements of it over the last few years) but I was completely floored when I heard about what happened.

McMahon's response is sort of typical for the industry, though. Wrestling eats its own.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 10:04 AM

(Seriously - what does " Nancy Daus could play a face, switch to a heel, and sell both roles and the transition. It's a damn hard skill, much prized in the modern era, and she's one of the pioneers of it. She was beautiful, a good actress, able to take a bump (a prized skill in women managers of her era) and able to sell both that bump and her 'interference' in matches. She was good at what she did, and deserves mention." mean?)

Nancy Daus could portray a good guy wrestling manager (person who accompanies wrestler to the ring and acts in their interests in their corner), switch roles midway through a match to a bad guy, turning on the heroic wrestler, do so convincingly in both cases and make you believe the betrayal. She was beautiful, a good actress, a skilled enough stuntwoman to apparently be given a devastating blow without really being hurt (which many female managers and 'valets' couldn't do in the time she was managing), and could both convince the audience her fake injury was real and convince the audience that when she interfered with a match as a bad guy, she was actually doing some damage or otherwise making things difficult for the hero when the referee's back was turned.

Comment from: vilious [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 10:14 AM

"I liked Chris Benoit."

It seems to me that you did not, in fact, know Chris Benoit. He performed for you. He played parts for you. You knew about the parts he played, and could deduce something about his work ethic from the work he put into them. Other than that, you did not know him, and, thus, did not like him.

Sister Helen Prejean, who works with murderers on death row, says that there is more to a person than the worst thing they ever did. No doubt there was more to Benoit than his murders and his suicide. It would be interesting to know what he really was like.

Comment from: Prodigal [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 10:20 AM

When I first heard about Chris Benoit's death, I said to a friend in chat that in due time he'd show up alongside Vince at some point, probably in a match between Kane and the Undertaker where each was raising a fallen comrade from the dead to face off.

When that friend told me that Vince had canceled the storyline concerning his own death, I was gobsmacked to learn that this was real. When I learned about the deaths of the rest of the Benoit family, I was appalled.

Your column about this moved me to tears. Well done, sir.

Comment from: Hammertramp [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 11:27 AM

Thanks, that sums it.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 11:27 AM

I would be surprised if this forces USA Network, Spike and some of the other networks that have WWE shows to simply dump them because of this. Most people I know who were wrestling fans were turning towards becoming MMA, Mixed Martial Arts, fans where the competition is legitimate and does not have a need for scripting stories, even though there's a place for "filmed in front of a live audience" kind of shows.

Owen Hart died in Kansas City, which is sort of in my neck of the woods. I remember seeing the tensed-up Brett at the news conference, thinking, he's going to just punch Vince McMahon for real. I'm surprised Brett Hart still is with WWE.

Goodbye, WWE.

Comment from: The Weasel King [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 11:33 AM

I'm surprised Brett Hart still is with WWE.

Uh, Bret Hart hasn't worked with WWE since 1997. The separation, which was as acrimonious as any really could be without a stabbing, was made even more so when Owen Hart died.

So no, he's not with WWE. He's worked with some of their production guys, very briefly, when they were making a Best Of Bret Hart DVD, and he's appeared on TV since 1997 for them exactly once: 10 seconds of saying "I want to punch Vince McMahon", taken candid at his gym in Alberta.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 11:45 AM

It seems to me that you did not, in fact, know Chris Benoit.

Well, DUH. But come on -- surely you're being unfairly overspecific and nit-picky, here. There are lots of performers I like, based on their performances, with "like" being defined purely in the realm of "how I feel about their work and how I feel about how they present themselves in public, since I don't hang out with them or anything"... but since I don't want to get carpal tunnel from typing that out every time I talk about them I just say things like "I like Harrison Ford" or "I like Charles Williams" "I like Minor Threat."

Comment from: Ryan Rogatschnigg [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 11:46 AM

I appreciate very much that you did not make this about Chris Benoit, but in the end made this about the victims. Many wrestling fans continue to talk about how they can love and respect "Chris Benoit The Performer" but hate "Chris Benoit The Man." Well there is separation between the artist and the art, many are failing to remember that the victims here are not CHris Benoit, who can never wrestle a match again. The victims are not the wrestling fans, deprived of one of the best (and he was).

The victims are Nancy Benoit and Daniel Benoit, who are slighted as they are continually diminished to "wife and son of Chris Benoit, who was so great."

What is confusing about this situation is that perhaps more than any other wrestler, we as fans thought we DID in some way know Chris Benoit "the family man, the hard worker, the straightforward guy who loved wrestling and his family." And yet we did not. Perhaps nobody did know the "real" Chris Benoit, but definitely not us fans. We were led to believe or chose to believe that there was little separation between the real man and the character. Every new piece of information that comes out reveals that there were gaping holes in a hero's armor. Which is likely why people make attempts to somehow preserve some memory of their hero and attempt to ignore the actions he took in ending his lives and the lives of Nancy and Daniel.

Nancy and Daniel Benoit were murdered by their husband. Their husband happened to wrestle. Fans are selfish. And it is a shame many of us are making the tragedy more about our hero being destroyed and how we won't be able to truly enjoy his legacy because of this then we are the two lives that were taken. I somehow doubt Nancy Benoit's parents and siblings (not sure if she has any) and family are upset they will not be able to celebrate her murderer's career.

RIP Nancy and Daniel.

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 2:31 PM

On one message board (Death Valley Driver, which had a reasonably high level of discourse, although that might have been because all the aggressive moderation happened before I read the thread), the recurring comment was that people felt physically sickened by this. It's just -- Chris Benoit? A double murderer? Man.

It's baffling.

Comment from: LurkerWithout [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 2:34 PM

You've put things into words that many of us are feeling man. Thank you. Because I still can't move beyond, "this is fucked up"...

Comment from: DarkStar [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 2:41 PM

The weird thing, for me, is that this story made front page news a couple of days ago. Why would a wrestler make the front page of a major Canadian city newspaper? Because he was a hometown hero. Benoit was born in the States but was trained in Edmonton, Alberta. It's weird, because I never new about this guy, but he's a reflection of my town. Hailed as a hero, and now cast down.

Thank you Eric, for sharing your personal view. That was not an easy essay to read, even knowing the story.

Comment from: Benor [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 3:18 PM

God Damn, this news ripped me up. I mean, Benoit was one of those awesome wrestlers, yes. But he was also one of those people that I didn't hear a lot of nasty rumors about. He seemed...well, he seemed like a good guy outside of the ring and his stage persona.

And then this. I keep hoping there's going to be some dramatic evidence found, some way to prove that a fourth person killed all three members of the family and framed Benoit for it. But the rational part of me knows that at this point, the chances for that scenario are slim to none. It's just wishful thinking, hoping that he'll be redeemed.

And I'm left to wonder about his other children. Apparently, Benoit had two kids before his marriage to Nancy Daus-how are they dealing with this? Did they have some clue that their dad was unstable or dangerous? Were they even a part of his life after he married Nancy Daus?

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 6:56 PM

Thanks for the correction, Weasel. I didn't know he left quickly afterward.

Comment from: FrankO [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 28, 2007 8:06 PM

Benoit was a performer who impressed the hell out of me. He was one of the top five pro wrestlers in the world as far as physical talent is concerned. He was a professional in the ring. As you said, he never let ego overcome his role in the ring. If he was scheduled to put someone over, he made them look fantastic. He took care of his opponents, never injuring them through a sloppy work attitude. Wrestlers knew they were safe when they worked with Benoit.

He seemed genuine, and all reports were that he was honest, respectful, and a gentleman.

He murdered his wife and son. The very people he was honor-bound to protect. What stronger vocation or duty can one have than to protect his wife and children? Every fiber of his being should have screamed at him to keep them safe and sound.

I'd like to think that, at the end, it was a sense of honor that caused him to take his own life. I'd like the think that, at the end, he was truly remorseful for what he had done.

Part of me hopes he has found peace and redemption.

Part of me hopes he burns in Hell.

I'm not sure which part of me is winning.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 29, 2007 1:02 AM

The other thing I will say about this is that anger and the incisor-like cuttings of personal emotions will make anyone do things they would not want to do otherwise, drugged up or not. The fact that there had been contemplations of divorce highlights that all was not well within the Benoit household. Add on a seven-year mentally handicapped boy, and the problems may have seen unbearable to Mr. Benoit.

We will never know what caused Mr. Benoit to snap, whether it would be the steroids (I would have thought most wrestlers would be taking Human Growth Hormones by now), the rift between he and Mrs. Nancy Daus or the silent anguish of watching his seven year old son struggle with the day-to-day living of his disabilities. There's probably a combination of the three crosses he had to bear. What bothers me the most was how all of these problems were going on and no one within his closest circle knew how problematic they were until it was too late. And if they did know, why didn't they do something about it?

What also bothers me is the suicide. I realize in a lot of traditions, especially the Japanese tradition, suicides are considered an honorable way to accept the responsibility of a dishonorable decision. Many others, however, simply view this as a way to get out without having to face punishment from a court or society in this life. FrankO stated that he "like to think, at the end, it was a sense of honor that caused him to take his own life." I would like to that too, but my gut keeps harping something about suicide being a cop-out and that more likely he was just panicking, just then realizing what he just did and only then decided there was only one thing left to do, and not let his fate rest in the hands of others. Maybe he was also depressed about the whole situation and the blood on his hands just pushed him beyond the point of no return.

Again, as I tried to state above, there are no winners here, especially not the World Wrestling Entertainment corporation.

Comment from: Carina [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 29, 2007 1:48 PM

The most said thing is - both, the wife and the son would prolly still alive, if the wife would've gone through with the divorce the first time it came up between them. Who knows what really happened?

I've heard those "man kills family then himself" news stories so often lately, it's scary. Often enough it happens when the woman finally attempts to seriously go through with leaving after a long struggle and "we might still safe it."

Girls (and in some cases boys): if there's serious trouble in paradise, run. It might save your life. And the one of your children.

Comment from: Carina [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 29, 2007 1:52 PM

erh, I missed something: the second last sentence should read: run as long as you still can.

Comment from: Howard Tayler [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 29, 2007 7:41 PM

Girls (and in some cases boys): if there's serious trouble in paradise, run. It might save your life. And the one of your children.

I strongly recommend the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker. It underscores the point that women are most likely to be killed by someone they know, trust, and even love. It also explains and lays clear the innate tools and strategies we can all employ to be safe.

When your husband or boyfriend has pulled a gun, or bound you with duct-tape, it's too late. No amount of training or preparedness can help. But with rare exception, these events do not happen without precursors, and deBecker can help you recognize them in your own life.

If you're afraid, BE afraid, and then swiftly and wisely act on that fear. It is a gift, and it was given for a reason.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at July 1, 2007 12:39 AM

I only wish this kind of thing is monstrous. But if it was in fact monstrous, inhuman, or similar adjective, it would be outside the realm of what a human could do.

Sadly, this event was all too human.

As for the deaths themselves... how many pro wrestlers have died well before their time? It's something of an epidemic. And I know that there seems to be many different potential causes - but how many have to happen before we stop calling it coincidence?

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at July 3, 2007 5:27 PM

I don't grok. I just.. well, don't.

I get the kind of emotional or physical breakdown which can sometimes cause one to take their own life. I think everybody feels that low at at least one point in their life, and not everyone survives it.

I can even, if I stretch, understand the kind of insanity that can come over a person to strike out in anger or fear and harm another person. I can see defending one's self, a child, a loved one, even if the only way to carry out said defense is to take another person's life.

But things like this? Killing a child - any child, much less one's own child? Tormenting and killing another human - much less the one you claim to love most in this world? It boggles me, completely. I just.. well, I don't grok.

As for warning signs? Too often, the spouse or partner will write them off as "oh, it's not that big a deal" or "he didn't really mean that horrible thing he said." And to be fair, very often those warning signs do not manifest into real, physical danger (emotional danger, perhaps, but that's another kettle of fish). It's so easy to forgive, you see - so much easier than accepting that the person you love has turned scary, and dark, and perhaps dangerous when you weren't looking.

Thanks for writing this essay. It covers pretty darn well the confusion and astonishment this kind of thing always causes.

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