My Lover, My Monster
Nadine Murray

  This collage symbolizes the very real duplicity of the lover/monster in my study.  The person appears to be a gentle, nurturing, loving, protective caregiver, someone you can depend on.  Yet with a quickness that facade is gone and they are transformed into a towering, vile, threatening, fire breathing, demon possessed creature that causes you to tremble with fear at the mere thought of their presence.
  The lover has disappeared - all kind words and affectionate gestures are gone and in its  place we are left to deal with a stranger, a monstrosity beyond comprehension, whose  violent rage is a tornado destroying everything and everyone it encounters.

Liar; wretched, vile creature
Evil incarnate
Tormentor of my soul
Oh but, how I love you.
Passion unbound
Fire burning
Curses shouted
Limbs entwined
What's the difference between love and hate
Who can tell
Two demons in one heart
My monster, my lover.

  Whenever I talk to my friend Nikki, I get  a knot in my stomach.  Nikki has this boyfriend Mike who has "mental problems" as she puts it.  Nikki told me recently that one night she casually asked Mike if he was going out, and for no apparent reason he suddenly got mad.  He threw her over the sofa, pushed her face into the carpet and pounded her in the ribs.  Another time when they were playing around, Mike suddenly pulled off his leather belt and threatened her with it.  When Nikki ran into the closet, he promised he wouldn't hit her.  But when she came out, he "went off" beating her until her thighs were covered with welts.   "I told you not to mess with me." He said.
  Nikki is afraid of her boyfriend, and I think he like it that way.  I've tried to tell her that he might kill her one day but she doesn't seem to hear me.
  There are various emotions which encompass the broad spectrum of tenderness, affection and concern felt by one person for another person or object which is defined as love.  Frankenstein, Grenouille and my character Mike, all have the need to love and be loved, but because of certain events in their life they do not express this desire in a socially acceptable way.  These monsters are never truly happy with their achievements, whether it's being the best perfumer or being in a wonderful relationship, as they are not happy with themselves.
  Both in Perfume and Frankenstein the novel's main character is abandoned by a parent or other caretaker and this rejection laid the foundation for the monster they became as adults - "killing on a whiff" as classmate Michael Harkins stated, so they feel vindicated.  Similarly, Mike was rejected by his mother in childhood, his father having left the scene earlier, once she found a new love interest.  Mike replays this initial rejection by being verbally and physically abusive and controlling to his partners, as he views them as reflections of his mother who will abandon him once someone new enters their life.  He continually tells Nikki that she's the only one who understands him and that it's love that makes him act out in a destructive manner.
  Through my readings I've found that it's rare a relationship start out abusive, and in the beginning abusive men are often charming - bringing flowers, calling frequently, buying gifts.  But this soon turns to possessiveness, which in the end gives way to insults and violence.
  No one likes to be considered a victim, and for many of us the thought of being smacked around brings out the fighter in us.  When abuse begins, women have a hard time believing that something initially so wonderful is turning sour.  After the violent display comes the calm, with profuse apologies and the promises of redemption and the woman thinks it will go back to the way it was before.  This however is the calm before the storm, as this "loving period" is always followed by more abuse.  Most women blame themselves, believing if they were a "better woman" he would stop punching her.
  According to Diane Ackerman in A Natural History of Love "familiarity and friendship are things we cling to and it is hard to surrender these things even if the relationship isn't perfect.....It takes a lot of courage to leap off a relationship not knowing if you will sink or swim" (Ackerman    ).  Nikki stayed with her abusive boyfriend because of this, but even after she became pregnant the beatings didn't stop.  Now she stays with him because of her child.  This decision is a common one.
  Every nine seconds a woman is abused.  Some could be our relatives, neighbors, professors or fellow students.  Abuse knows no boundaries; it can happen to any of us.

Awaiting the hidden sun, its warmth and its light
Though I know it's there; it's beyond my sight.
I stand here in darkness, so cold and alone
Looking forward to the dawn, for this light to be shown.
At times the light lingers and its rays fill me with life
'Till darkness falls again upon me and I stand without might.
I have no choice but to remain on this soil
It must have been meant to be in this turmoil.
But one day soon I will surely blossom
When this light of mine will rise up from the bottom;
For it's my strength, my hope and my source
that keeps my heart beating with love at full force.


It's rare that a relationship starts out abusive.  On the contrary, men are often Prince Charming at the onset of the relationship.  They are very attentive to their lover - calling frequently, bringing flowers, buying gifts.   However that tenderness and affection soon becomes tainted, the concern becomes suspicion and the attentiveness becomes jealousy and possessiveness, which in the end gives way to insults and violence.

The tree symbolizes the different stages in an abusive relationship.  At the root are all the ideals of romantic love upon which the relationship is based.  Then suspicion and jealousy creep in leading to mistrust, possessiveness and one partner trying to control the other through the use of intimidation and aggression.  The relationship is transformed. Faith and trust have been diminished. The tree blossoms and insults, rage and violence have replaced the tenderness, happiness and romance that were once present. Through it all the love is still present but because of criticism and manipulation it is no longer the central focus as it was in the beginning.