eminem’s window pain

16 06 2011
Love the Way You Lie

Image via Wikipedia

Domestic violence and abuse is one of the taboos of our society. And though many chart songs are peppered with throw-away lines of misogyny, few cover the real issue of domestic violence as fully as Love the Way You Lie by Eminem ft Rihanna. This song first came to my attention as I hummed along to it on the radio before I realised what I was singing about; then when it was requested as the song to end a funeral on, I looked it up more fully.

Culturally this song, and the music video, are so significant and yet passed me (and probably most of us) by. The song tells the story of a young couple in crisis, in which love is confused with passion and sex is confused with violence. To understand what I mean, you have to watch it. It’s only when you get to the last verse you realise why Rihanna is singing about burning. It isn’t a metaphor. Funny this doesn’t come recommended by the HTB Marriage Course.  

The couple begin by arguing. It seems they do that a lot. It seems they both hit each other, and the pain and the passion get all mixed up and ends in violence or sex, or both:

As long as the wrong feels right it’s like I’m in flight
High of a love, Drunk from the hate
It’s like I’m huffing paint
And I love it the more that I suffer, I suffocate
And right before I’m about to drown
She resuscitates me
She f****** hates me
And I love it

But then it all become too much and the woman begins to leave. This is a shock to the pride of the man who realises he loves her, and realises he has done wrong by snapping:   

Wait. Where you going?
I’m leaving you
No you ain’t
Come back
We’re running right back
Here we go again
It’s so insane
Cause when it’s going good
It’s going great
I’m Superman
With the wind in his bag
She’s Lois Lane
But when it’s bad
It’s awful
I feel so ashamed
I snap…

I laid hands on her
I’ll never stoop so low again
I guess I don’t know my own strength

So the apologies begin, fuelled by a sense of shame and helplessness. I shouldn’t have done this, you shouldn’t have done that. This is shifting blame, dodging guilt, not whole-hearted forgiveness.

The story continues with a confession – a confession that their emotions have begun to define how they feel. This is one of the greatest pitfalls of our culture, where how I feel in the moment defines me and justifies my actions.

You ever love somebody so much
You can barely breathe
When you’re with them
You meet
And neither one of you
Even know what hit ’em
Got that warm fuzzy feeling
Yeah them chills
Used to get ’em

But those fuzzy feelings have begun to wane:

Now you’re getting f****** sick
Of looking at ’em
You swore you’ve never hit ’em
Never do nothing to hurt ’em
Now you’re in each other’s face
Spewing venom
And these words
When you spit ’em
You push
Pull each other’s hair
Scratch, claw, bit ’em
Throw ’em down
Pin ’em
So lost in the moments
When you’re in ’em
It’s the rage that took over
It controls you both
So they say it’s best
To go your separate ways
Guess that they don’t know ya
Cause today
That was yesterday
Yesterday is over
It’s a different day
Sound like broken records
Playin’ over
But you promised her
Next time you’ll show restraint
You don’t get another chance
Life is no Nintendo game
But you lied again
Now you get to watch her leave
Out the window
Guess that’s why they call it window pain.

Life is not a game (or a film, or a music video) and the consequences are real.  And life-long. Violence begets violence. Children who see it will repeat it. It cannot be turned off. Take responsibility. Speak truth. The abuser lies and lies again; they have to. I promise I won’t do it again, etc… And they do. And because he lies, she leaves. He loses control, so she takes control and leaves.

But this cannot be. Because the abuser must be in control. So he tries a new tactic. We’re in this together. It’s your fault as much as mine. You made me do it.

Now I know we said things
Did things
That we didn’t mean
And we fall back
Into the same patterns
Same routine
But your temper’s just as bad
As mine is
You’re the same as me
But when it comes to love
You’re just as blinded
Baby please come back
It wasn’t you
Baby it was me
Maybe our relationship
Isn’t as crazy as it seems
Maybe that’s what happens
When a tornado meets a volcano
All I know is
I love you too much
To walk away though

At this stage the abuser believes it. They are usually convincing. He continues, but notice how as he doesn’t get his own way, as he fails to convince, the lies tie themselves in knots and the truth comes out:

Come inside
Pick up your bags off the sidewalk
Don’t you hear sincerity
In my voice when I talk
Told you this is my fault
Look me in the eyeball
Next time I’m pissed
I’ll aim my fist
At the dry wall
Next time
There will be no next time
I apologize
Even though I know it’s lies
I’m tired of the games
I just want her back
I know I’m a liar
If she ever tries to f****** leave again
I’mma tie her to the bed
And set the house on fire

And so the truth is out. And so the chorus finally makes sense. The ironic “I like the way it hurts”, and “I love the way you lie”. As the house burns.

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
But that’s alright because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
But that’s alright because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

This is the myth so many men live under; that secretly women enjoy the pain, that it is being a man to be an abuser.  That it isn’t abuse at all, it’s just life. And that if you want to end something you must destroy it.

What is our response to this? We may want to dismiss this as an irrelevance, because it’s not like our young people are listening to the lyrics or learning life from videos. Well the statistics are this:

The song won the Best Rap/Hip-Hop Track award at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards. As of December 2010 the single had sold over four million copies in the United States alone, and was the best-selling single of 2010 in the United Kingdom… As of February 2011 the song had sold 4.58 million downloads in the United States aloneand 9.3 million worldwide.

We do have a response. Our response is that any violence in the home is unacceptable. Why? Partly because we are human and it’s just plain bad. But our overarching reason is that we know love, and this is not love. Love is self-giving, self-sacrificing. As Mumford & Sons put it, love does not dismay, betray or enslave you, it will set you free. Jesus attitude to women was radical and culturally dangerous. Paul’s encounters and writings about women continue this. We are about freedom, we are about being freed from oppression. The worst of all situations can be transformed without being destroyed.

This means we have to make a stand. It begins with us. When we feel the temptation to raise a hand to our children, to our wives, to our husbands, or whoever, we need to remember this. Our emotions do not define us, nor do they justify our actions. That is the role of love. Love is patient and kind. Love is truthful. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love transforms, it does not destroy. And if we turn a blind eye to this, we need to read Isaiah 58. And if it is happening to you, we need to find a way to support you. Because if this is happening in our communities, we are responsible.

We need to tear the curtain in two and look through the window pain.  

If you want to carry on this theme, you can listen to Love the Way You Lie Pt II, sung by Rihanna as a response from the woman’s perspective here:



7 responses

17 06 2011

So complex an issue. Abusers play on others self worth and value. Maybe the woman in the song thinks this is all she deserves. this is ‘her lot’ and ‘at least he loves her’.

No. its not good enough. Jesus didn’t say ‘love others and love yourself less than that’.

He said ‘Love others as you love yourself’. Get it. He knows how valuable we are and spends so much of his teaching in us getting us to see the ‘us’ he has made as ‘beautiful’ worth something, valuable, a pearl.

Worth more and thats why the transformation can be so long and so hard, cause we buy the fact that we are worth less than the next. In Jesus – no comparisons.

17 06 2011

Thank you for this. Hardest decision ever to escape my abuser. Couldn’t make him stop. He was “devout” christian. Told me it was my own fault. The church shunned me not him. All but destroyed my faith. Your post gives hope that not all are the same.

17 06 2011

Wow, thank you for sharing that. Wish I could say more.

17 06 2011
Natalie Collins

Hi! My name is Natalie and I work for Restored an international alliance working to end violence against women. Please view our Ending Domestic Abuse: A Pack for Churches it can be downloaded from here: http://www.restoredrelationships.org/resources/info/51/

Having been in an abusive relationship myself I found this song the most accurate portrayal of domestic abuse I have ever heard. I use it in a domestic abuse education programme for young people that I have developed called DAY (www.dayprogramme.org) Do you get in touch if you would like more info! We are launching a campaign to get non abusive men to stand up against abuse of women, it’s called First Man Standing.

Thank you for talking about this subject, it affects at least 25% of the women in Church, we need to be doing more!! God bless!!!

17 06 2011

Thanks Natalie, I will certainly look at your information. It is good to get it talked about more. Abuse is so much more widespread than we acknowledge, and takes so many more forms than this more obvious one. Thanks for commenting,

28 06 2011

Natalie do you know what help is available for families of members murdered in an abusive relationship by their abuser.?

28 06 2011

The rest of the family of someone abused is affected too. Especially when that person is killed.
Begining only now to come out how my Sisters life and death affected me in such a sorrowful way. Realised at therapy today how I still so sad, annoyed, angry and unforgiving I am of her murder. Am overwhelmed and exhausted.
These poor abusees who feel there is no way out.

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