• Kink and the Kitty

Compassion Can Exist in the Core of Accountability

Speaking from the heart on current issues can regularly feel contrived. This article hasn't come easy for me. I've been sitting on it for nearly a month now, editing and contemplating its cliche. The resolution was to release it in the hope my story can alter your approach in times of conflict. (Trigger Warning-Suicide, DV, sexual assault)

In the modern era of social media and text messages, we've become cold in our cries for correctness and justice. With screen walls between us, we lose our restraint and speak to each other in a manner that overlooks our humanity. The softness that our words would have in person is lost to the disconnection. When howling into the social media void about the actions of others, we forget about our own transgressions. Often unintentional, we've all burned loved ones in the fulfillment of selfish desire. And even when the injury we inflict is the result of our trauma bodies or lack of education, we remain accountable. I've learned from my mistakes that justice needs the balance of mercy, and compassion can exist in the core of accountability.

Photo by Berenice Barreiro Photography

My former lover was a beautiful disaster. He had anger problems, drug problems, and one hell of an ego. Before we were lovers, he wasn't even permitted in my house due to his toxic behavior. But one day, I saw his soul, and my heart softened and welcomed him in. It was a passionate love-hate relationship, but I cared for him deeply. Towards the end, he did something despicable in my eyes. Something that I felt teetered on sexual assault. The rest of our quad didn't see it that way, or maybe accepting it would have hurt them in a manner they weren't equipped to handle. Man, did I want justice. I was righteous, and the more they all resisted my point of view, the more enraged I got. My words were laced with rotting venom. I had, and honestly sometimes still have, a pattern of continuing to push conversations when Im not getting what I want. I had this stubborn need to be heard and understood, and I couldn't stop my bitter texts to him. I felt that if he weren't capable of owning up to his behavior, our core values would never be in alignment. I'm not sure how I thought my spite would reach him. It's probable his shame couldn't face the wrath that was my court. That was the end of our relationship and, a month later, with a gun in his hand, the end of his life.

I don't feel responsible for his death. I dont think anyone deserves to carry the weight of someone else's decision to end their life. But I did receive some substantial lessons about mercy and compassion. He should have been held responsible for his actions. But had my words been softer, my temper subdued and own my self-control heightened, perhaps he would have seen the love I had for him. I am grateful for the heart-shattering lessons that have lead me to my more rational and kind approach. But I am still broken; human, and my words will continue to be both my contribution and affliction.

It's easy to call for people to be shut out of communities. It's easy to send resentment towards someone that isn't educated on current issues. It's easy to be hostile when someone's perspective is different from our own. It's easy to forget the pain in our wake and sit proudly in our virtue. What happens when we propel our outrage is we put our counterpart on the defense. And there is little ground to gain when both parties are pinned against each other. It could be the most comprehensive and humbling lesson for a person to receive grace when they know they don't deserve it.

Recently my partner and I were removed from a local community forum. He shared publicly that 15 years ago, in a drunken haze, he choked his ex-wife to avoid taking responsibility for his infidelity. His truth was triggering for a lot of people. What they couldn't hear over their anger was that he has now been sober from alcohol for ten years and during that time has probably attended around 500 aa meetings. He has been both a sponsor and a sponsee. In the last 3.5 years, he has been in ongoing therapy and a year ago started taking medication for his anxiety. And of course, he also paid the price to our justice system. None of this erases what he did, but he now uses his story to help others get sober. His message is one of humility, transparency, and what can happen in your life when you face the darkest parts of your being and do the work to overcome.

So before you spew your scorn, consider if your approach will result in anything positive. Will your opponent be able to hear your heart over the volume of your words? Is there a way to soften yourself and advance with mercy? Can you recognize that you are deeply flawed as well and give the same empathy you hope will be given to you? I know that I have a great deal of work to do in this area, but I will continue to strive to be a more loving member of the human family. I challenge you to think about where you could have been more sympathetic, and your righteous indignation replaced with grace. If you had taken a moment to discharge your temper and find compassion for your counterpart, would it have produced a different outcome?

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Your Kinky Kitty,

Jessica RAVAGE