I can’t help but be drawn into the Oscar Pistorius trial. It’s not only the fact that I’m a regular guest on the Oscar Trial Channel, so I have to pay attention to what’s going on. My timeline on Facebook and Twitter is filled with opinion. The channel shows in the reception areas of my clients. Every news broadcast is filled with his testimony in that gentle, halting voice, the one that occasionally dissolves into raw and wretched anguish.
How can this tearful, emotionally tortured man be the jerk in those messages, who bullied his girlfriend and prompted her to confess that she was sometimes a bit scared of him? How can such a sensitive soul also be capable of being a controlling and somewhat abusive partner?
I was married to a man who was very sensitive, very emotional and very angry all at the same time. (“Afrikaners are very emotional people,” my British mother-in-law would say, nodding sagely.)
I was always In Trouble. I was always upsetting him. (I don’t blame him, by the way; I was messy, forgetful and occasionally inconsiderate and we were a horrible, horrible combination.) I was always being educated about the error of my ways. After the shouting, when the lecture was over, and my silence crept over the room and filled all the spaces between the molecules around us, he would calm down. Then he would say to me, in the wheedling voice of a small child: “Do you still love me?” And I would nod and say yes because yes was easier than anything else.
Every time I read those messages between Oscar and Reeva, or hear his testimony, I am reminded of the person I was when I was with him, and I panic again. I’m right back there, head bowed, waiting out the storm, the resentment setting in and hardening. The taste of metal is in my mouth and I want it to stop. Just. please. stop.
It’s entirely possible for Oscar to be sensitive and loving. It’s also entirely possible for him to be controlling and abusive. Entirely possible for Oscar to bawl his eyes out until he can barely breathe because the grief and remorse is so terrible. Also entirely possible for him to get so angry that he lashes out in rage without thinking. He can be all of these things at once. They are not contradictory at all.
Trust me, I know.