Friday, 29 July 2016

Tangled and dark

However well you think you know someone, however long you've lived with them or been friends with them, you never know them completely. You never know the deepest, darkest parts of their mind - the bits they don't want to show you, the bits they're ashamed of, the bits that are hard to deal with, the bits they're disturbed by.

Over and over again I read of people who've suddenly done something quite out of character, something utterly shocking or extraordinary, something their nearest and dearest could never have predicted or thought possible.

Like builder's merchant Lance Hart, 57, from Lincolnshire, who eleven days ago murdered Claire, his wife of 26 years, and his daughter Charlotte, before turning the gun on himself. Friends and neighbours were stunned by his actions, describing him as a happy, friendly man. One neighbour thought he was "the nicest guy you could ever meet", who "would do anything for anyone".

Yet out of the blue he goes on this rampage of destruction nobody can explain and you wonder what was simmering away under the surface. He was upset by the breakdown of his marriage, but that hardly justifies such carnage.

But you read about these aberrations all the time - husbands who run off with the au pair or reveal weird sexual kinks, women who have endless plastic surgery or wreck their ex's brand-new car. Or just those sudden streaks of greed or meanness or prejudice or cruelty. Or of course terrorism.

After thirty plus years together, Jenny and I know each other pretty well. But I'm sure there are parts of us we've never fully revealed to the other, parts that are still shadowy or mysterious. Hopefully nothing as sinister as homicidal tendencies, only those things that for one reason or another we can't quite own up to.

You think you know someone inside out? Think again.

32 comments:

mia more said...

I think it's just important to keep one's secret garden. May be we are all able to commit awful things in a special situation.Our brain is a melting pot of chemical and emotional reactions. What makes you sad , may be of no importance to me. And I like to discover slowly and step after step who I'm dealing with. But the last 'knowing' of a person will always be hidden and it's ok.
Mia More

Secret Agent Woman said...

I believe anyone is capable of anything, given the right circumstances. But most of us keep "darkness" (cruelty, major deceit, etc) at the level of thought. The guy who seemed like a super nice guy to the neighbors? Wonder if his wife and daughter knew more. There's always so much to a story than anyone outside it knows.

Ursula said...

Let's leave the extremes you mention, Nick, aside. They are not only extremes, they are the exception, and, unlike Secret Agent, I do not believe that all of us are capable of anything. If that were the case I'd either go and drown myself now or go and live in some desert

The human mind and soul is a wondrous thing. Even those of us who come across as "an open book" will remain mysterious, not least to themselves. That's why, when I read a biography, I never ever imagine I know anything about someone other than the factual (ie dates and events) and interpretations about that person seen through the lens of either themselves or another person.

All we can ever hope for, and be grateful for, is a glimpse into the workings, the inner soul of another. There is no science to it - sorry, psych - otherapists/ologists/iatrists. The largest part, the mystery, we will take to our grave. And how wonderful is that? Thoughts are free. And by the way, as implied by you and both your commentators so far, secret and hidden thoughts don't have to be "awful", they can be truly wonderful - and yours and yours only.

U

Nick said...

Mia: I think you're right, it's okay to have a few secrets you'd prefer not to share with anyone. It's okay to find some things too embarrassing or too painful to share.

Agent: I suspect his wife and daughter had had a few dark insights into his psyche, but even so probably never imagined he would go as far as he did. Divorce can prompt very extreme reactions in some people.

Nick said...

Ursula: I think what you call extreme is probably more common than you think. How about all those people who have flaming rows with their neighbours about the height of a hedge or the boundary between houses? What about those motorists who leap out of their cars and set about another motorist who annoyed them? There are examples everywhere you look.

I agree that a biography can only tell you so much about the person, and the rest is still a big mystery. And you're right, our secret thoughts may be wonderful as much as disturbing.

Bijoux said...

I always wonder why reporters always ask the neighbors. This isn't 1950. Who really knows their neighbors? Asking the man's co-workers or friends of the wife is more likely to reveal answers about his character. I believe there are signs in 95% of these cases, but people just ignore them.

Rummuser said...

You are right. All of us keep some part of ourselves hidden from public view and given sufficient motivation can do things that would amount to abnormal or subnormal behaviour.

Wisewebwoman said...

Male violence when their "ownership" of women and children is threatened. Over and over again. I'm sick and tired of it. So glad others are tracking these cases. Astonishing and horrifying number every day.
As to dark sides? All have them. Threaten a mothers baby.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Bijoux: Very true about neighbours. Our own neighbours would know next to nothing about us. And you could be right about warning signs that people ignore. Surely if there's a violent tendency, there will be little bursts of it in one way or another?

Ramana: I think so. I'm generally a mild-mannered person, but who knows what I might do if I was under extreme stress or pressure?

Nick said...

www: Absolutely, a lot of men still think they have a right to control women and "sort them out" if they don't behave the way they're meant to. And too many people (both men and women) find some way of rationalising male violence instead of firmly condemning it.

Joanne Noragon said...

How close to home. Two weeks ago an old and dear friend, of more than thirty years, delivered a completely unsolicited, unfriendly opinion of me. After a couple of days I asked why it had come about. She said she stands by every syllable. Now it's time to let go.

Nick said...

Joanne: Very strange indeed after such a long friendship. But yes, if it's hurtful and shocking and it destroys your affection for that person, then you have to think about parting company.

helen devries said...

Street angel, house devil is a phrase that comes to mind. The problem is that social and financial constraints prevent those suffering the house devil from freeing themselves.

CheerfulMonk said...

As some of you know, I had an experience like Joanne's last year. A friend I had known for decades started lashing out at me publicly, even saying things that weren't true. I found it hard to hold her responsible because I think she believed what she was saying, no matter how bizarre it was. But it was clearly time to move on.

kylie said...

I would bet my bottom dollar he was an abuser and control freak. What kind of useful insight can the neighbours give? Absolutely none

Ursula said...

Cheerful Monk, it is kind of you to "not hold her responsible". Though I do. What happened there was unacceptable. If you feel need to wash dirty linen do so in private. What I found more than "bizarre" that not once did she try to make amends. First my inbox is jammed, when I give her pause for thought (ok, I reprimanded her) and she falls silent. We all make mistakes. Be (wo)man enough to admit you have set a foot wrong. Rarely do I lose respect or cast someone off (the number of times it has happened in my life I only need one hand for and even then not all fingers) but this was a mega letdown. One which, no doubt, will have cost her dearly.

As to your often mentioned "time to move on". Generally speaking I think you may have it down to a finer art than I do, Jean. Come to think of it, "moving on" is, possibly, the lesson I found the hardest to learn in my life. Still back of class.

U

Nick said...

Helen: Indeed, lack of money is what keeps a lot of women in dreadful situations although they're desperate to get away. There are still not enough women's refuges.

Jean: Funny how people can firmly believe things that simply aren't true, and get very testy when you challenge them. As you say, you just have to shrug your shoulders and move on.

Nick said...

Kylie: Very possibly. If she had a few close women friends, I'm sure one of them must have been privy to what was actually going on. But if he really was a control freak, he might have actively prevented her from having any close friends.

Ursula: This means nothing to me, so I shall refrain from comment.

Jenny Woolf said...

I think sometimes people discover things about themselves that they don't know. This might have happened in some of these cases, i feel

Nick said...

Jenny: I'm discovering things about myself all the time! It's like peeling the layers of an onion. But yes, the person concerned may be uncovering something unsuspected just as much as other people.

tammy j said...

one thing about always being late to the party...
I get to read and digest all the comments that go before. it's fascinating.
I agree with so many. and you too nick.
I seem to be a very open person. and probably too trusting. I honestly sometimes WISH I were a bit more mysterious.
I still cannot believe that after bob died...
I stayed in a one year relationship with a man who was a total abuser. I've mentioned it before.
what makes us unable to SEE that kind of darkness?
how did he hide it so well? at first he didn't seem like one. by the time it became clear what he really was... I was an emotional wreck.
he had issues I guess.
I've heard he is now in his third marriage. and I wonder what his wife puts up with. I don't think people with dark sides ever change. they just hide them well.

Nick said...

Tammy: Some men are very good at hiding their underlying misogyny and controlling tendencies. I'm not surprised you were taken in by an innocent facade and couldn't see what was coming. I'm sorry you had to go through such a horrible experience and suffered such emotional damage. I shudder to think what his third wife is putting up with.

Hattie said...

My feeling is that there are simply things we will never be able to understand about other people. Understanding myself gets easier with age, if I pay attention and avoid lying or covering up.
Art helps.

Nick said...

Hattie: Indeed, some things, especially the really horrific things, are just impossible to understand at any level. I've certainly become more self-aware as I've got older, though I suspect there's still an awful lot of ignorance. It's hard to be objective about your own self when you're stuck in the middle of it.

John Gray said...

I have seen the dark side of people here in blogland
Usually they appear after too many beers or wines
Ring any bells readers?
( not you nick btw)
Jx

Ursula said...

John, offering you mitigating circumstances: How many beers did you have before calling me an "arsehole" (more than once) just because I don't bow to the merits of one of your friends who tells everyone she doesn't like to "fuck off"? But then, [dog] shit is what you do best. And you, the Samaritan, do have the temerity to tell me where to stick my tongue ... and worse. Manners, John, manners. One can express displeasure in more effective ways than the shorthand you use. It's 1122 hrs BST.

U

Nick said...

John: Every blog seems to attract one or two people who happily indulge their dark sides - with or without the aid of alcohol.

Ursula: If you have a bone to pick with John, kindly pick it on his own blog and not mine. I refuse to be a go between. Your own manners leave something to be desired. And it's not the first time I've had to say that.

Ursula said...

Nick, I didn't ask you to be a "go between". I specifically addressed John. You know what the difference between bloggers is? Some will actually admit when they set a foot wrong. And when I do I am the first to hold up my hands and apologize, try to make amends. Others? Others are holier than thou. Blameless, faultless, butter wouldn't melt in their mouths whilst naming you names without any substance to back up their limited vocabulary and reasoning.

It's ok, Nick. I think it best to part ways. I like you and I have tried. You appear to feel compelled to "take a side" when no one, least of all me, asked you to do so. I found our exchanges over the years interesting - but, take note all those so sanctimonious, there is only so much unfounded admonishment even I can take.

I wish you, and the Johns of this world, well. May you never stumble, may you never be at the receiving end of a witch hunt.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: I haven't taken any sides. All I said was, if you have something against John, please take it up with him directly and don't use my blog as your platform. You've also talked about the parting of the ways before, but it never happened.

Glad to say I've never been the subject of a witch hunt. There may be a good reason for that.

kylie said...

Nick,
You clearly suggested that you were being asked to be a go between and the most likely reason you haven't been subject of a witch hunt is because you are male.

Ursula is a breath of fresh air: she tells the truth as she sees it rather than employing the the usual sycophantic behaviour of bloggers. The good thing about truth tellers is that there is an implicit expectation that the listener is capable of hearing, digesting and acting upon feedback that might initially be unpleasant. The sycophants assume that the listener is too weak to hear and respond to anything but praise and agreement.

In other words, Ursula estimates you more highly than you realise

Nick said...

Kylie: I suspect the reason for no witch hunt is that (a) I'm usually polite to people, even if I hate everything about them and (b) I don't get involved in those heated political debates that often turn into an abuse-fest. Being male might help as well, I guess.

Ursula is indeed a breath of fresh air and I appreciate her honest opinions and the way I'm often forced to reassess my own attitudes. As you say, there are too many sycophants who just spout what they think is expected of them. And I know Ursula has a generally positive view of me.

But I do object to people airing their grievances against other bloggers on my own blog instead of tackling the offending blogger direct. I'm not going to join in a grievance that has nothing to do with me.

kylie said...

yes, keeping things where they belong is a good habit