Jaci posted about an abusive ex who tried to "friend" her on Facebook. The question was sort of, can you be friends with exes (it depends), but really, what do you do with someone like that? Another friend, in answering one of those Facebook/ e-mail list things said that there is one person he really hates (or would like to see dead or something).
I suppose a lot of people have someone like that. A person who harmed us in such a way that even though we move on, do great things, have great families, love our jobs, blogs, or dogs; the mention of his or her name causes us to feel a jolt of adrenaline and see a montage of pictures of horrible things that happened at that time.
I don't really have a person like that. I'm sort of self-centered and don't get that attached to people. If I am attached, they are still here and haven't done anything terrible. I guess I'm lucky that way.
But there is one person whose name makes me start spewing a repetitive list of his sins. He is a former boss. One of the saddest things is that, if someone told him that I hate him to this day, he'd get that vague, confused look he had (OK, the normal look) and say, "Kathy who?" And then, he'd be pleased that he had affected me to such an extent while remaining completely untouched himself.
As much as I'd like to say, screw him, he's trash, I can't fight the visceral pain that shoots through me when someone is stupid enough to say his name in my presence. It makes me angry with myself that he allow him to affect me. For someone whose Bogey-man is an abusive ex or a person who did real harm to them, it's much worse. How do you keep from continuing to be victimized? Really, not just on the surface.
I don't know. But I have an idea, and I got it from Harry Potter. Seriously. In Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkabhan, the doomed defense against the dark arts teacher de jour, Professor Lupin, taught them how to fight the Bogey... a monster that took the form of whatever most frightens a person. And the way to fight it is to make it ridiculous. If you can take the fear (or in our case, the truly horrible person) and picture him in a ridiculous way, you laugh at him and he loses his power. Really. Not just on the surface.
My other idea is stolen from another writer Martha Grimes. Her character was a mystery writer who dealt with the people who made her feel powerlessly miserable by writing variations of their murders. Safe and satisfying.
That's all I've got. I'll let you know if it works for me. Let me know if you have any ideas.