I want you to tell me you love me
even though I annoy you. Don’t
tell me you were lying, but tell me
it’s okay; that who I am is okay. I
want you to tell me you’re not
sorry for saying I tire you, but
that you’re okay with being tired.
Everyone wants to know that
their terrible things aren’t too
terrible to handle, and I know
you see all mine: my self-hate
and indecisiveness and the
sadness that stays for days. The
ridiculous need for you to say
goodnight, the way I forget that
you love me even when it’s obvious.
I want you to stop saying sorry for
hurting me and instead just stop
hurting me. I want you to
overwhelm me with things that
are good about me whenever you
decide to tell me what I need
to change so that I can tell myself
that even though I failed at
something, there are these other
things that I did right.
—  Rebeka Anne, you asked me to start telling you what I want
I love a lot of people who
can’t love me back; rejection
feels less personal when I
can blame something else for
it. Some people only need to
be hurt once to never get over
it - the truth is I never want
to be not loved again the way
you didn’t love me.
—  Rebeka Anne, from now on I’m in charge of who hurts me

“I’m leaving you. After months of 
waking up loving you just as much 
if not more than the night before,
I’ve realized you’re the one. My 
soul mate. So I’m leaving you 
because as it is, this will never 
work. I saw the light at the end 
of the tunnel in you - heaven in
 the palm of your hand - and I 
knew I wasn’t ready. We’re not 
ready. My insides are still too 
twisted, you haven’t ticked 
enough boxes on your bucket
list and I’m not willing to lose
 you over bad timing. I’m leaving 
you, and I hope you never delete
 my number from your phone, 
and I hope one day when I call 
you will be waiting.”

—Rebeka Anne, soul mates
Seeing you with someone else
brings out the worst in me. The
worst is the part of me that says
everything I want can be found
littered all over your body and
someone else is going to find it
all first. It’s never been easy to
convince myself to walk anywhere
that’s not towards you, and on
the worst days jealousy sends
me running back.
—  Rebeka Anne, I am the worst when I think I want you
Provost's Dog Series: Abusive Relationships

Okay, there’s a lot I’m wanting to say about the relationship between Holborn and Beka in Mastiff and I’ll surely come back to it, but I want to get some points down while they’re fresh in my mind. I’ll come back to various points in more details later on.

1. Abuse happens to people. Not weak people or stupid people, not desperate people or ugly people or beautiful people. People. Pierce shows that an abusive relationship happened to a strong young woman with strong social ties, some political power (through her friends), certainly able to fight and defend herself. This is so necessary to see!

2. Abusive relationships are hard to leave. They’re hard to leave by design, because an abuser makes sure it’s hard to leave. There is some mention that Beka was working up her nerve to leave Holborn but the plain fact is that she didn’t. She didn’t leave him. He died with them still engaged, still living together.

3. Abuse can be happening and people right close by don’t notice. Tunstall, her partner that she spends all her working hours with and some of her off-hours time with, had no idea. Some of her other friends did notice, but it took time.

4. Being abused by a person does not necessarily create hatred for that person. Beka comes to admit that she didn’t like being with him anymore, didn’t want to marry him, didn’t much like him. But she doesn’t come to hate him, and I think that’s something that really baffles people who don’t have experience on the receiving end of abuse. (this is not to say that victims of abuse never hate their abuser, just that it’s possible to not hate them, possible to continue to love them even, even in the absence of love from the abuser)

5. Holborn gets away with the abuse. He dies, sure, but not because he was abusive. It was not a punishment for the abuse. Beka never even makes it public, never seeks revenge for it. She stays quiet about her experiences in order to maintain his reputation with his family and community. She just clams up and tries to deal with it on her own. This is much more likely to be the case with abuse in real life. Abusers generally don’t face punishment, either formally by law or informally from the community.

It is so amazing and so, frankly, brave of Pierce to write an abusive relationship into a “strong*” character. Not as a past that she overcame to become “strong.” Not to create an enemy for the character to fight. As a part of the character’s daily life that came to be “normal” for that character even though it was horrible, and even though she hated it. As something that came to be when she was in her full strength as an independent, fully employed, socially supported, romantically sought after by people other than the abuser, hell, famous for her work within her profession, “strong” person!

Anyway, like I said, I’ll probably come back to some of this in more depth with quotes from the book. Just getting some thoughts out so they’re better organized when I go back in.

*scarequotes on “strong” because strength is complicated, and “strong” is often used to mean only one kind of strength when talking about literary characters

He is everything to me; his
oxygen hands, his daylight
mouth. I talk about him too
much. I can’t talk about him
enough. If you discovered the
trick to survival, you’d want to
tell the world about it too.
—  Rebeka Anne, romance: chapter 1
You think bitterness is contagious
and mouth-to-mouth I’m bound
to catch it. You’ve made yourself
out to be this dark creature that
I should keep my light away from
but I look at you and I just see fear.
I’m going to let you hold me. You
can call yourself terrible all you
want, but I’m still going to let you
hold me. I’ll teach you trust by
trusting you first.
—  Rebeka Anne, sometimes people masquerade their fear as anger