Brainscan 21: Irreconcilable Differences
In her riveting zine, Alex Wrekk writes in raw and powerful detail about her marriage to a man named J who dominates the relationship and systematically chips away at her self-esteem until she feels like a big zero, like she's the one who is crazy. (Projection and gaslighting are tactics of choice used by the cowardly abusers, but victims don’t usually "get it" until they are in way over their head.)
I believe no one can fully understand what a Herculean task escaping and recovering from abuse is unless they have traversed a twisted relationship personally. And emotional abuse is particularly insidious because of its lack of visibility. There are no black eyes and no scars to tell the tale. The scars are psychic and horrifically alienating—unless the victim talks to a good therapist and reads about this type of abuse pattern.
When I received this zine to review, I figured I’d read a few pages before going to sleep, but I couldn’t stop until I finished the whole story. This woman went above and beyond the call of duty and obligation to her marriage vows in trying to work things out, but, as with these cases, emotional abusers don’t really change. She finally gives up and sets out to save herself, and I wanted to shout “Yay!”
It’s a great story, very well paced, and Alex gets extra special reader points from me because of her guts in putting it out there. I also believe that as a writer, Alex benefits from her experience. In the process of excavating herself from the ruins, she wins the prize of a deeper, wiser soul.