I am sorry to burst your bubble but I call bunk to the whole clichéd notion that the ‘truth is always somewhere in the middle’. I’m also opposed to its cousin phrase, ‘there are two sides to every story’. Literally speaking, there are two sides but that does not make both sides valid. I was beside myself, not literally of course, when I heard someone explain away domestic abuse by noting, “look, we heard Heather’s side and Eric’s too but we don’t really know what happened. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.” To which I asked:
Did Eric hit Heather? (Yes)
Did Heather hit Eric? (No)
Did Heather threaten Eric with a gun or a knife? (No)
In other words, there is one and only one truth. Eric deserves to be arrested for domestic violence, after my friends and I have our way with him in a dark alley of course.
Lindsay filed for divorce from Chris because she tired of him constantly berating her. Those who know them well opined that “things are never that black and white. There must have been something she did to egg him on.” Really? So there exists no person in this world that verbally attacks without provocation? Interesting. And bunk! There could be another valid side to this story but to insist that there is, is both illogical and presumptive. It also puts victims in an unfair defensive posture. Imagine being abused and automatically having to answer questions about what role you played in instigating it? See, bunk!
For Chris and Lindsay, things were not that black and white, their friends were right about that. However, Lindsay had nothing to do with spinning Chris up. He grew up in an abusive household. As well, he was hazed both in the military and in college. To Chris, outbursts of any kind were simply par for the course. I’m sorry but Lindsay was not the source of his pains and she does not deserve the treatment that his rough, abusive background yielded. Should she support him? Yes. Try and get him help? Absolutely. Tolerate the abuse and, worse yet, take some blame or accountability for it. Absolutely not.
Moving right along, do all affairs occur because the cheated failed to please the cheater and thus the cheater had to look elsewhere? Uh, no. They affair occurred because the cheater decided to look elsewhere instead of either addressing an issue with the cheated or leaving the cheated. Every other justification is just noise and blame is pure nonsense.
What I find both telling and trying in all of this is just how quickly we validate or justify our use of the ‘two sides’ phraseology, until someone makes it personal for us. I got into a debate with someone who noted that rape “never just happens”, there’s always more to the story. I then asked her (a mother) if she would stand by that view if her daughter told her that she had been raped. The mother was beside herself, quite literally I felt. She was also quick to change her view. This is a serious subject that shames victims while placing a dangerous presumption of dual guilt.
Say it with me: Sometimes, the abuser abuses, the cheater cheats, the liar lies, and there is no provocation. If there are two sides to the story, the other side is often about things in someone’s past that scarred them and drove their poor behavior. While I have some sympathy for what they went through, the truth about wrong or right is not somewhere in the middle. They are wrong, plain and simple. The longer we explain away their actions, the longer the actions continue. After all, so long as we put everything in the middle, there is no side standing up to be accountable for what happened.