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“Creep”: Thoughts on Abuse and Survival

“Creep”: Thoughts on Abuse and Survival
Shaindel Beers writes in with this response to Dan Coffey’s post, “Do Poets Dig Radiohead?” Shaindel is the author of two full-length poetry collections, A Brief History of Time (2009) and The Children’s War and Other Poems (2013), both from Salt Publishing. She teaches at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary Magazine.

Radiohead is one of those bands that I wish I knew better. There’s something uncanny about Thom Yorke’s lyrics, about the way he understands the human psyche. I feel a bit torn explicating “Creep” when it is the one song he’s written that he despises, but I can understand how he would feel that way when people thought he’d written the song about himself. There’s a pain expressed by the speaker in “Creep” that is not only dangerous to the narrator but to everyone around him:

When you were here before
Couldn’t look you in the eye
You’re just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You’re so fucking special

But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

Any woman who has been in a relationship with an abuser, who has been trapped in the web of a sociopath knows this dance. There is the flattery, putting the woman up on an impossibly high pedestal. It’s dizzying. And the higher he lifts her up, the further she has to fall. The higher he raises her, the more sadistic he can be when crushing her.

I don’t care if it hurts
I wanna have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice
When I’m not around
You’re so fucking special
I wish I was special

Once she has been isolated from everyone else because of her perfection, the abuser can shape her even more – mind, body, and soul. The abuser doesn’t care if it hurts because as a narcissist, only his pain registers as real. His victim is only an extension of him, so her pain does not exist in his reality.

She’s running out the door
She’s running out
She run run run run…
Run…

Whatever makes you happy
Whatever you want
You’re so fucking special
I wish I was special

Unlike real life, the victim gets away. The average woman tries seven times to flee an abusive relationship. Seventy-five percent of women who are killed by their abusers are killed when they attempt to leave or after leaving the relationship. When “Creep” comes on the radio, you’ll see women glance at each other. They know.

I do. Three times I went before a judge to get a restraining order, and three times, I cried and told the judge, “I’m sorry. But I don’t think I can do this.” I only got away by “running out the door,” by packing an extra suitcase and hiding it in the trunk of my car when I was leaving to do a poetry reading three hours away.

Thom Yorke isn’t the creep, at least not that I would imagine, any more than Shakespeare was Iago. But still, to have that glimmer of understanding, no matter how horrific, is a gift, even if Yorke has come to think of this particular song as a curse.

Shaindel Beers

Shaindel Beers is the author of two full-length poetry collections, A Brief History of Time (2009) and The Children's War and Other Poems (2013), both from Salt Publishing. She teaches at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary Magazine.

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About The Author

Shaindel Beers

Shaindel Beers is the author of two full-length poetry collections, A Brief History of Time (2009) and The Children's War and Other Poems (2013), both from Salt Publishing. She teaches at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary Magazine.

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