The Moral High Ground is a Slippery Slope

The other day in a post I mentioned someone who recently demanded an explanation from me for my behaviour. They did more than that, of course. But that particular thing was the final straw for me. It was the umpteenth time they had done this, and I just thought to myself, I’ve had enough of this shit, and that was that.

They are one of those people who like to keep others updated on everything that others are doing wrong, they like to relate at every available opportunity how difficult other people make life for them. Everyone else is bad, evil, stupid, an idiot, mistaken, incompetent, corrupt, immoral, flawed, insensitive, selfish, negative, and so on. They seem to be the only human on Earth who is good, saintly, intelligent, a genius, talented, always right, morally superior, perfect, extremely sensitive, ultra positive, and so on. How they manage to stay so positive when everyone else is so negative verges on the miraculous. How they manage to live in a world surrounded by filthy inferiors and remain untainted I do not know, perhaps the trick to their survival is to live on moral high ground because others can’t climb the slippery slope to get to them.

This person reminds me of quite a few other people I have known in my life. In fact I seem to attract these sort of people. There must be a flashing neon sign on my forehead which says – Please tell me everything that is wrong with me and do use it to highlight how everything is right with you.

This person reminds me a lot of my mother. In fact they are so similar to her that there have been moments when I confuse the two in my mind, which is really quite funny. This person is my mother’s mortal enemy. A nemesis. This person is my father’s lover and long time companion. I guess my father had a type.

My father was a philanderer. It was easy for him to be that way because he had a lot of help. Even though they knew that he was married, even though they often knew his wife, women just seemed to be unable to resist offering their bodies to him. He often treated them quite badly after he’d had his way with them, he often treated them badly before he had his way with them, but this never seemed to stop women from queuing up to be seduced.

My father was never asked to explain his behaviour. People excused his behaviour for him. He was an artist, artists get a special pass for bad behaviour, in fact their bad behaviour is actually encouraged as people expect artists to act out. The amount of times I have heard someone excuse his behaviour, not just the philandering which was really the least of his bad behaviour, with – Ah, but you see, he is an artist! And that was that. No further explanation necessary.

My mother was one of those people who excused his behaviour due to his artistic temperament and being a genius and such. She said it, but she was not as understanding as she pretended she was to the world. She played the role of the long-suffering martyr, she was an artist’s wife, that’s what is expected of the wives of artists. She loved her role very much, but she was not stoic about it. She complained all the time. Mostly to me. I knew my father was a philanderer before I knew what it meant or what sex was. My father seduced most of my baby-sitters. My mother told me. Mostly by pointing out to me grudgingly that the reason she had to look after me was because the baby-sitter was spending time with my father. Modelling for a painting. That was code for having sex in his studio. He painted all his lovers. He made them immortal. I guess that’s why they didn’t mind the fact that he usually gave them a rundown afterwards of everything that was wrong with their bodies.

My father once told a very beautiful women that her tits were too saggy. My mother had to drive her home afterwards because she was an emotional wreck and couldn’t drive herself. My mother enjoyed that task because she knew that this particular lover was out of the picture. Her brief reign as artist’s favourite was over. This woman had stayed with us for a week or so, and had swanned around the house like she was a queen and my mother was a servant. At least that is how my mother told the story to me. I was there, I think, maybe, not sure, but too young to care about what the adults were up to. I liked it when the adults were busy, it meant that their attention was elsewhere and I could be left alone and in peace. I knew it wouldn’t last, but you grab what breaks you can get when you can get them.

My mother could withstand the humiliation of being cheated on repeatedly because… well, apart from the fact of artists being artists and this is what all artists’ wives had to put up with, status has a price, it has perks which usually come with non-perks… she knew that all the women were transitory flings. They came, they had their moment, then they went. It was a contract of sorts. My mother was the Alpha female. Until my father’s lover and long time companion entered the picture.

My father’s lover and long time companion came into his life via a friend of his who was also a married artist. She was his lover at the time. She was an artist groupie. She met Picasso once, his wife shut her down before she could do her artist groupie thing. She told me that story. Proudly. When my father’s friend died suddenly from a heart attack, she moved on to my father. She understood him in ways that his wife didn’t. She was an artist too, you see. Once she got hold of my father, she never let go. I do believe that she loved him very much. She still hasn’t let go of him even though he is dead. I think in many ways the reason she contacted me after his death was to try and hang on to him by latching onto me.

Now as a child I didn’t really care too much about what my father did in his private life. His philandering was normal to me. It’s what I was used to. What I did mind was the fallout of it. In other words I bore the brunt of my mother’s woman scorned fury. I had to listen to her complain too. I don’t really know which was worse, the screaming object-throwing hysterical fits which included abuse directed at me as the holder of my father’s DNA or the endless bitching. She needed a release from all the stress of being a martyr and an artist’s wife so that she could pretend to my father how fine she was with his behaviour.

It’s strange really, my mother often had her screaming fits at me within range of my father, yet he never seemed to hear them or walk in on them, I suppose as his studio was separate from the house and he used to listen to loud music when he worked maybe he heard nothing. He worked very hard and for long hours. He was a busy man. I guess he never knew what I went through on his behalf. Perhaps he didn’t want to know. More likely, he didn’t care, consequences were not his thing unless he could use them against someone to manipulate them. He was an artist, free from accountability, responsibility, consequences and explanations.

I was an only child so I was spoiled, as only children are, by having all of my mother’s attention. My father was a bit jealous of all the attention I received. That was one of the reasons he didn’t want children. He wanted all attention on him. If he’d only walked in on one of my mother’s fits, lectures or complaining sessions then he would have heard that everything was always all about him. It would have pleased him and comforted him, I’m sure. As it was, his feeling that he was being neglected by his wife drove him further and more resolutely into the arms of his lover and long time companion. They spent a lot of time together. They had sex, but the sex was not as important to their relationship as the long conversations which they had. She understood him so well. She knew him better than anyone else.

I once overheard my father’s lover and long time companion tell my father what a brat I was and that he should cut me loose as I was a terrible daughter and he shouldn’t have to put with me and my behaviour. It was an unwanted distraction which such a talented artist did not need in his life. He needed to focus on his creations. My father agreed with her. In fact she was really just telling him what he wanted to hear. I was thirteen at the time, and teenagers can be so troublesome to their parents and extended family members. I reacted badly to the conversation. My fault really, for eavesdropping. I hated her after that. It was easy to hate her. Her continued presence in my father’s life drove my mother more insane than she had ever been before.

War broke out and I was recruited as a soldier. My father’s army was always bigger than my mother’s. He was an artist, she was just the artist’s wife. Everyone sided with him, so my mother was left with just me. I had to do… a lot of fighting. Eventually I burned out.

In a deep burned out depression, I had a moment of clarity, a pause in which I saw that my father’s lover and long time companion was not my enemy. Not really. This whole war didn’t belong to me. I went AWOL. And found my own life to live away from it all.

Then my father died and… the war found me again. It’s… complicated. Can I say that? It’s so overused, yet it is true.

When I reconnected with my father’s lover and long time companion, I was neutral about it. Distant really. I was in shock. Sort of. I held no grudge or rancour towards her. Not really. A bit, but not enough to matter. I wanted to keep things in the now, not review what had been, who was right, who was wrong, etc.

The past is sometimes worth going over in case things were missed the first time around, but most of it belongs in the past. And the past changes every time you look at it. It’s abstract in many ways. Keep moving, live in the now.

However this woman just wanted to relive it all. Her glory days, I suppose. I let her do what she had to do, she was grieving. At first she started in a friendly way, but it soon moved into animosity. Her grieving turned into her grievances.

Fair enough. People need to express themselves, need acknowledgment, need to know that their side of the story is heard, that it counts, that they count, have value.

She meant a lot to my father. He meant a lot to her. I meant nothing to anyone, not as a person in my own right. I was used to that. I waited it out. The person she thought I was, had been… well, she had never bothered to get to know me then… or now. It was complicated then. A child becoming friendly with their father’s lover and their mother’s mortal enemy… that is a bit complex. Besides, her not liking me then made her more likeable to my father. He needed someone to confirm to him that his being a bad father was not his fault, it was my mother’s fault, and my fault. How could he be a good father to a bad daughter.

I realise that I did a lot of things in the past which were not so nice. I have learned from my experiences. I try to do my best in each moment. Try to be good without being nauseatingly good. The  best I could do in this moment seemed to be to listen, without judgment or reactionary behaviour, and to let her have her say, her moment. Her moment went on and on. She bitched about my mother. Well, I once had to listen to my mother bitch about her, so this was redressing the balance. Her version of the past grew increasingly delusional. But it was her version, even if the facts were completely out of whack. I waited.

Apparently my attitude of remaining neutral, of trying to live in the now, of trying to sort things out as they are, here, in 2013… of occasionally offering my own opinion in case she was interested… mistake, I know… well, I just wasn’t good enough and pissed her off, repeatedly. She demanded an explanation for my heinous behaviour. I did try, but then I got bored of trying. Had enough. She wasn’t interested, neither was I.

I’m not a tolerant person. I don’t have to be. I’m lazy so my values are fairly simple. Live and let live. Everyone has a reason for being and doing. So do I. We’re all human and being human is… complicated. I have morals, but they are for me, private, and I don’t feel the need to impose them on others. That’s not my job, purpose or what not. What others do is not my business, unless they make it my business. Then… well, people usually only make it my business when they start preaching their morals to me, when they start telling me that I’m bad and they are good, when they start lecturing me on how to live my life based on… well, not on how they live theirs. Not with this person. She’s way up high on her moral high ground… not sure how she got there, because based on her own moral criteria she should be buried under the mound. But hey… whatever.

Label me as a baddie in your alternate universe, just don’t ask me to explain to you why I am a baddie there, because… I don’t know, make up your own explanations. I have my own version of reality, and there I am neither a goodie or a baddie, I’m just me. No explanations necessary. No moral high ground to spoil the view either. I realise a moral high ground might give me a better panorama, but… not in my world. In my world there is no moral high ground because I suspect those things are made from the dismembered bodies of others. I prefer people when they are alive and whole… that’s a bit weird, I know, but things seems healthier that way. Not really sure what I’m talking about anymore, time to sign out.

One comment

  1. […] That has been happening quite a bit this year. People telling me what I am and am not allowed to do and feel where they are concerned, yet they don’t seem to think that their rules apply to them too. My father’s companion told me she didn’t want to hear about my feelings about my father or my mother, yet all she wants is to offload her rage against my mother and her grief about my father’s death onto me. I’m supposed to shut up and put up with it. I’ve written about this before – The Moral High Ground is a Slippery Slope. […]

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