Sunday, February 14, 2010
How We Present Ourselves
After poisoning his wife, Dr. Essa fled to Lebanon which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Interpol and the FBI waited, Essa who never stopped his emails--(thus Dr. Essa was always in the sights of the authorities) to the relatives around the world. Eventually Essa blundered by traveling to Cyprus to have a sexual assignation. The Cypriot police took him into custody and he's been on trial in Cleveland this last month.
The link is to Cleveland.com, the website of the Plain Dealer, Dr. Essa's story is as good as any pulpy detective story. Even if it turns out that Dr. Essa didn't kill his wife (sure) he's the sourt of guy who gives your ordinary philandering piece of shit husband, a good name. When you look up narcissism at Merriam Wesbter, Essa's picture should be illustration "1."
His family and friends are pretty nasty tools as well. The efforts of friends and family to cover and protect this worthless character, reached novelistic proportions. In the Essa billiard's room at the time of Mrs. Essa's burial, there were jokes among the boys. The doctor and his brother planned to blame one of his girlfriends for the murder--hell, since the defense case hasn't happened yet, that may still happen. If murder cases interest you keep your eye on this one.
But I didn't plan to tell you about the Essa case. I don't care about Dr. Essa, but my pal Chuck pointed out something to me this morning at the shrine to coffee, that made me rethink. One of Dr. Essa's many "mistresses" or ex-girlfriends testified,yesterday. Chuck noticed something in the reports of the testimony of Madeline Michelle, the mistress, that was noteworthy. It's how she tries to present herself as a "good person." This is from the Plain Dealer coverage of her testimony:
"Madeline said she drove home that night, troubled and guilt-ridden for having done what she knew to be wrong. But the following morning, she awoke to find the first of many weekly flower deliveries from Essa -– a dozen red roses, with a note that simply said, 'Smile.'
Essa invited Madeline to dinner in the days that followed, and Madeline accepted, though not without guilt.
'I chose to because of the way I felt, the way the relationship made me feel,' she said. 'I had never had a man treat me the way he did -- with words, gestures, physically -- up to that point in my life. It was something I had never had in my previous relationships. Men never seemed to be that giving… He was attentive to me, loving towards me and wanted to be with me.'
The couple starting rendezvousing every Wednesday night at Madeline’s Cuyahoga Falls apartment for conversation, company and sex, she said. But Madeline had her reservations about the relationship and began to pull away, she said. Essa turned up the charm, however, and won her back with flowers and sweet messages."
There's more of this sort of self-justification that permeates in Madeline Michelle's narrative of her relationship with this bad doctor.
I personally strongly relate to Madeline Michelle, I suspect if we are honest with ourselves most of us do. Not that we would do what she did; not that we would get into a relationship with a person like this monster. But if you are at all, like the Bad Lawyer, you have done things or failed to do things that you regret. When forced to to relate that which we did or failed to do we justify, we rationalize, we reach for explanations and rationalizations. How can we explain that we were intimate with a monsterous person, how is it that we failed to do this, or that we did that objectively rotten action? We want, we need to tell our story, to say that I am a good person.
You see, I am a Bad Lawyer, but I am a good person. But maybe I'm not. I wanted to be a good lawyer, I wanted to be a good lawyer and a good person. I intended to be a good lawyer, but maybe I wasn't a good person--then again I may have it backwards. I feel rotten. Sometimes, just looking at all this dark matter, makes me feel pretty dark. No wonder we proclaim our good intentions in hindsight, how else can we live with ourselves.