Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Pedomorphic Pharisee

I don't really spend a whole lot of my time on-line. Still, there are several places I like to visit from time to time, like Car Free, Casey & Andy, Cheshire Crossing, The Yarn Harlot (I don't usually read knitting blogs, but I love this woman's sense of humor :)), We Move to Canada, and Peter Alway's Journal. The ironic thing about these particular places, however, is I probably wouldn't even know they existed if not for Riin; they're all places she introduced me to.

Of course, Riin still frequents some of these herself, so it's inevitable I'll occasionally stumble across traces of her. I most often encounter her comments on The Yarn Harlot. I only check in there once every month or two but, when I do, there's always something new from her there.

I hadn't checked in with The Yarn Harlot for a few months so, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to see if she'd written anything interesting. She didn't disappoint; I saw a posting from January 2 titled, "At least it's predictable." It's an excellent example of why I love to read her blog. The fight for computer supremacy. Yup, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, collected the Beanie Baby; Lisa and I have had our share of conflicts over computer resources. :)

I was chuckling away, thoroughly entertained, until I stumbled across this in the comments:

You know, after being married for 14 years to a guy who couldn't remember where we kept anything ("where do we keep the...?" "Uh, same place we've kept it for the last 14 years!" Geez, grow a brain) and then getting involved with a guy I later came to call Stalker Boy, I've pretty much decided I just don't need men. I am far better off alone. Maybe I've had incredibly bad judgment or really, really bad luck, or maybe men just suck, but I'm not taking any more chances.

Posted by: Riin at January 2, 2008 3:31 PM
It wasn't the "Stalker Boy" comment that caught my attention; this wasn't the first (and probably won't be the last) time she's called me that. What caught my attention was what she said about her ex-husband:

"Geez, grow a brain."

Riin's ex-husband's blog is one of the aforementioned places I like to visit. I don't know much about Peter Alway beyond what Riin has told me and what I've read on his blog. This, however, I can tell you unequivocally: he did not deserve that.

Until I read that comment, I thought Riin reserved public, unmerited, juvenile barbs exclusively for me. This is the first time I've ever seen Riin launch an unwarranted, public attack against anyone besides me, and it really made me think.

Riin used to call Pete down a lot. I can't go into most of it because most of it would be too personal to him, but I will say she's said much worse than "Grow a brain." I frequently tried to defend him in the beginning; I even tried to talk her out of her decision to divorce him. However, Riin has an odd way of slowly altering your perceptions until, before you even realize it, you find yourself on her side without even knowing how you got there...

It wasn't until I saw her attack Pete publicly that her true nature finally became apparent to me. Pete's not one to toot his own horn, particularly in public, and I can only tell you what I saw of him filtered through Riin. Still, in retrospect, it seems to me that man tried damned hard to please her.

When Ken Kifer died, he was there for her every day. Not sure how to help, he did the only thing he knew how and wrote her music and poems to try to soothe her. He even supported her friendship with me, even when he knew how she really felt about me, and probably knew somewhere deep down that it would eventually spell the end of his relationship with her. He did that for her because he loved her and wanted her to be happy.

He gave her 14 years of his life and his love. How does she repay him? By publicly implying he's stupid.

That's when it hit me.

On her blog, Riin claims to "practice compassion toward all living things." Naively, I took that at face value. I assumed that the practiced compassion towards everyone else and reserved her rancor only for me because she felt threatened by me (legitimately or not). Now I see that her acrimony sprang, not from her perception of me, but from the same wellspring from which her infamous "rants" sprang: her pharisaical, pedomorphic peevishness.

In light of that realization, I looked back on her attitudes over the two and a half years I knew her. I came to the most startling realization:

Riin is a bigot.

In society today, the word "bigot" has come to be synonymous with people who are prejudiced against skin color or religious belief, and that's the first thing that people think of when they see or hear the word. However, the word's meaning is much broader: "a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his [or her] own." That definition describes Riin impeccably.

Riin may not discriminate on the basis of race, but she does discriminate. Off the top of my head, I can think of many groups she discriminates against: Christians, motorists, people who eat meat, people who live in big houses, people who smoke, people who drink, people who shop at Wal-Mart, people who drive SUVs. She won't say it to your face but, if you don't choose her way of doing things, she automatically thinks there's something wrong with you as a person.

"Well, she has the right to her opinion," some might say. Absolutely. The problem isn't her opinion; it's her attitude. I know from talking to her more intimately than 99% of the people who will read this that she will frequently dismiss an entire person on the basis of just one thing about them she doesn't agree with. That is the earmark of the bigot: total lack of tolerance for views that do not tally with one's own.

If Riin is a bigot, then she is also a hypocrite as well. "Practice compassion towards all living things," she says. If she truly believed that, she wouldn't be so wantonly callous towards those with whom she disagrees. Her blog should say: "Practice compassion towards all living things that I feel are worthy of compassion." Anyone she deems "not worthy" are subject, not to compassion, but to vainglorious, venomous vituperation.

Pete, should you ever read this, I want to say this in public and for the record: I apologize to you for not trying harder to defend you. I should have fought Riin harder about her decision to leave you, and I didn't; I let her dominate me instead. I've always admired you and, in the beginning before Riin soured on you, I was looking forward as much to getting to know you as getting to know her. I regret that the awkward circumstances prevented that. :(

My only consolation is that what happened between you and Riin was inevitable. If he hadn't died, she would have left you for Ken Kifer. If it hadn't been me, it would've been someone else in time. Still, inevitable or not, like Shawn Michaels when he fought the match that ended Ric Flair's career, I now have to carry the burden of knowing that I was the one who was the catalyst. Knowing it's for the best (you're lucky to be free of her) does little to assuage my guilt.

If anyone needs to grow a brain (and, for that matter, a heart), it's Riin, not you. Thanks for trying, even if only in those brief few months in the beginning, to be a friend.

So. This leaves me with one very serious question:

Do I still love Riin?

I don't like to let love die. I try to fight to keep it alive. There is a deeply romantic part of me that wants to believe in the ultimate power of love and how it can survive anything. I do believe, if both people truly love each other, love can be an unassailable power. The problem is, in light of what I've discovered about Riin, I'm now not certain if she ever truly loved me. I am, in fact, not certain if she's ever loved anyone; I'm not sure she knows how.

That being said, I can no longer deny the truth of my feelings inside. Do I still love Riin?


That's the simple answer, but it's more complex than that.

There are actually two Riins:
  1. The Pedomorphic Pharisee: This is who Riin truly is. Bitter, vindictive, angry at the world, unremittingly narcissistic, concerned only with her own ideas, beliefs, perceptions and points of view.
  2. The Perspicacious Paragon: This is who Riin aspires to be and who she wants people to think she is. This is the woman I fell in love with. This is the woman who truly believes in "Practic[ing] compassion towards all living things."
I am still in love with #2; the problem is that #2 doesn't exist, at least not as a living, breathing woman.

The sad thing is, Riin is capable of being the Paragon. In order to do that, however, she would have to recognize and acknowledge her own faults and at least try to make amends to the spirits she's crushed over the years; only the noxious narcissism of the Pharisee prevents her from doing this. The Pharisee can't see past her own world enough to know how much Peter, M and her parents loved her, and how much she hurt them.

I do still love the woman Riin wants to be; I probably always will.

I just can't help but feel sorry for the beautiful fay trapped under the skin of the fiend.

I hope, some day, she finds a way to break free.