Morbid Love

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‘Ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist wrapped in blood.’

– Patrick Marber, Closer.

1

I hit a few women in the time I worked as a bouncer. Never with the intention of inflicting injury, or even causing harm; it was always a matter of self-defence.

It once fell to my responsibility to break up a brawl that involved about twenty men – and women – in total. During this, one woman climbed onto my back, put one arm around my throat to secure her position and sunk her acrylic nails into my eyes.

I can’t remember how I dislodged her, but it was violent. I almost lost an eye in a brawl once (another story) and have a pretty dim sense of humor where my eyesight is concerned.

I didn’t feel too good about it after, however, when I saw her crumpled in a pile on the floor. So much so that when the police turned up, I immediately explained to the constable what I had done.

“Why did you do that, Jarrod?” he asked. And I told him. He was alright about it.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s always as simple as that.

Probably my greatest confusing shame is the fact that I have, under different circumstances, hit other women.

***

My first memories are of my father hitting my mother. I remember hearing my father yelling. When I toddled into the kitchen, I saw my father standing over my mother who was crouched in a heap on the floor at his feet, crying.

I remember her face looked like a mask of misery that was melting off the front of her head. I think that most of the time my father really lost it with her at night, after the three of us kids had gone to bed. Their bedroom was a very dark place.

I remember going to ask my mother a question – again, one of my first memories – when she was getting out of the shower. My father came upon us and drop-punted me in the backside so hard I left the ground.

My mother used to refer to my father’s rages as ‘roaring’ or ‘growling’. She was right; I can’t remember any words, just sounds. Terrifying primal sounds.

My own feelings about hitting women are more than just a conditioned revulsion against ‘un-masculine behavior’; to me, hitting a woman is the ultimate loss of control – the act that will turn me into the most detested figure in the gallery of my life: my father.

Professional fighting taught me how to love myself. I know that the explicit reason I walked into a fighting gym was because I had to defend myself from my father.

He had lost his temper and struck me one day after I had carelessly let a door slam in the wind. I thought about it during the day while I was at university and then, calmly and reasonably, attempted to discuss it with him that night when he returned from work.

He lost his temper again and began screaming about how if I weren’t so stupid, then hitting me wouldn’t be necessary. I told him that I had received an excellent VCE mark, as he very well knew; if I could learn from a teacher speaking calmly at the front of a classroom, then I could learn from him without the cruelty.

I don’t think he was convinced.

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