her father loved me, oft invited me,

    still question’d me the story of my life

    from year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,

    that i have pass’d.

    i ran it through, even from my boyish days

    to the very moment that he bade me tell it:

    wherein i spake of most disastrous chances,

    of moving accidents by flood and field,

    of hair-breadth ‘scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach,

    of being taken by the insolent foe

    and sold to slavery, of my redemption thence

    and portance in my travels’ history;

    wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,

    rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven,

    it was my hint to speak- such was the process-

    and of the cannibals that each other eat,

    the anthropophagi, and men whose heads

    do grow beneath their shoulders.[1]

when othello makes this speech in defense of himself before the senate at venice it is to explain his innocence against the charge of using charm and magic to woo brabantio’s daughter, desdemona. however, a close look at the speech will show how eloquent othello is, but also expose the nature of othello – a man who thinks his type is evil to impress new ‘suitors’. as such, a man you may have problem trusting because his psyche still harbors vestiges of his savage past. a man you may ask, “what happens if this present becomes his past?” so, but above all, the speech acts as a warning to the listening venetian senate – treat me well or else i’ll talk about your savagery. in other words, if othello talks of his own people like this, imagine what he would say of the treatment he receives at the hands of the venetian senate if they condemn his pursuit of desdemona on account of his race.

note that though othello mentions “fortunes” he passed through, he says “… i spake of most disastrous chances, … of hair-breadth ‘scapes i’ the imminent deadly breach …” because othello only concentrates on disasters, his mention of “fortunes” in a way, assumes a negative tone. this is a man you may struggle to trust, a man who thinks he found “redemption” from being “sold to slavery,” and now, the people he has previously praised saved him from savagery are threatening to savage him. the same is true of some lovers who speak of their past lovers.

it is common for lovers whose egos have been bruised or feel let-down to savage the memory of what they shared with a man/woman they believe hurt them. i am the first to admit you can have good reasons to feel disappointment if you were treated wretchedly or if your hopes or promises made to you were not fulfilled. but be careful, the hurt that doesn’t leave your mind, destroys your psyche. also, it helps no one to systematically resort to either destroying the person of the ex-lover and/or belittling the things you claimed – while with the person, you either liked or made you happy. avoid letting your desdemona become your othello. tell the person how he/she has let you down and move on – don’t be an othello who remembers misfortunes or the ‘evil’ of your ex-lover. some might prefer to keep quiet, but move on. you can blame the latter for keeping quiet, but sometimes when you observe a lover is marinated in his/her ways it’s better to let them fry in their fat.

but some (ex)lovers don’t leave quietly and stay quiet – pardon the pun. however, some of what these unquiet ex-lovers say, if you listen carefully, is based on uncorroborated actions or the nature of the ex-lover – just sheer bile, jealousy and retribution. i said some – not all ex-lovers. for such ex-lovers, ex-lovers become, as othello says, “cannibals that each other eat,/the anthropophagi, and men (sic) whose heads/do grow beneath their shoulders.” they become, as one lover said of an ex-lover “… a serial killer for all i know. i can’t believe i shared a bed with this monster for so many years.”  as fate would have it, her new lover became acquainted with the ex-lover, and after being in the presence of this person for a while, realized most of what he was told about his person was untrue. his interaction with his lover’s ex-lover may not be as a lover, but it is impossible to hide certain untoward behavior.

two things: some people are pretentious, so the ex-lover may have been pretending to be good with the current lover, after all, some would say, they are not lovers and he is a man. but if you pretend to be good, it is only because you know what is good. so, would someone who knows what good can be, be full-scale evil? i say this because, first, could it be a case of “we get what we deserve”? they say, God treats us the way we love. i am not saying an abusive lover (if he/she was abusive) is God. second, in this case, the accusing ex-lover, the current lover will find out, still calls and talks to the anthropophagi to constantly ask for help generally, fulfill monetary obligations and/or relief from stress. i am not writing this so you to pass judgment. besides, if you look in your present situation you may just be in this situation. and then some ex-lovers return to an ex-lover to seek revenge. again, this is not written for you to pass judgment, but to let you know the results can be catastrophic. consider the following remarks made to police by a 31-year-old man who stabbed his 20-year-old wife to death, after they had been reunited following a six-month separation.

“then she said that since she came back in april she had fucked this other man about ten times. i told her how can you talk about love and marriage and you been fucking this other man. i was really mad. i went to the kitchen and got the knife. i went back to our room and asked: were you serious when you told me that? she said yes. we fought on the bed, i was stabbing her. her grand-father came up and tried to take the knife out of my hand. i told him to go and call the cops for me. i don’t know why i killed the woman, i loved her.”[2]

david m. buss writes, “love is the universal human emotion that bonds the sexes, the evolutionary meeting ground where men and women lay down their arms,”[3] – you bet my use of this statement has two meanings. they say love is about compromise, however, for me, the best compromise is with your own feelings when the romance is over – the way you handle your residual emotions is key. so, the lessons from this are fourfold: what you say of others exposes your own nature – if you say an ex-lover is evil and an infra dig and you continue to interact with him/her it says so much about your character; no human is completely either evil or good, talking only about the evil of people shows your preference for evil. by inference, if you talk good of people it shows your preference for good. when you are capable and comfortable talking about your ex and your relationship with him/her, you know you’ve moved on. if you still keep grudges it’s impossible to talk about the good and bad sides of the story; returning to a lover that has hurt you for purposes of revenge does not only destroy the person, if you succeed in exacting revenge, it also destroys your person – you’ve brought yourself to the nature of the one you condemned; destroying the person of an ex-lover to a new lover is a red-flag that you’re someone who cannot be trusted. there is a difference between “that guy/girl let me down,” and “that guy/girl is a sadist/a prostitute.” you see, whereas what you say may be taken as truth, because you did spend time with the person, it is a red-flag to the new lover – because, like the venetian senate might have thought, if othello can speak ill of his own people, what won’t he say about his racialized adopted tribe. after all, if crocodiles eat their own eggs, what won’t they do to the eggs of other creatures.

fkregie 2017.

[1] Shakespeare, William. (1996). Othello. Act I:III. Dover Publications.

[2] Buss, M. David. (2000). The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex. New York: The Free Press. p. 7.

[3] Ibid. p. 10.