Artist: Kaitlin Butts
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Album: What Else Can She Do
In Their Words: “I came to Nashville for the first time five years ago. I was miraculously set up to write with someone who I have looked up to for quite a while, Angaleena Presley of the Pistol Annies. I was so nervous walking up to her house, hoping to not make a fool out of myself during our session. She made me feel right at home and we started talking about family and how we accept certain behaviors from our family that we would not tolerate from our friends. We sweep things under the rug or hold our tongue, as to not stir the pot so that no one goes and flips the table over at Thanksgiving dinner. And I don’t think that’s how it has to be. I don’t think you should just have to tolerate abusive behavior solely because someone is blood. I think that if someone makes you feel small or bad about yourself when you’re around them, they cross lines that you’ve asked them not to cross time and time again, if they don’t love you unconditionally for exactly who you are, you do not have to be around those people, family or not.
“In making this video, I really wanted to show what being in a relationship with an abusive narcissist looks like behind closed doors. At first, you see me attempting to cater to his ego by staying quiet and maybe just attempting, in a non-confrontational way, to say something that’s on my mind. ‘You don’t hold back, you don’t play nice….’ In the first chorus, he flips his lid, gets in my face, threatens me, puts me back in my place.
(Read more from Kaitlin Butts below the player.)
“The second verse, I change my tone a little bit and try to set a boundary thinking that maybe if I stand up for myself, he’ll respect me. ‘You go too far, and you get too close…’ And towards the end of the verse, I put myself in my place, feeling like I may have said too much, singing ‘but I hold my tongue, swallow my pride, and stay,’ because …What am I gonna do? Leave? But narcissists don’t like it when you set boundaries either, so I lose again.
“Over the instrumental, you see him say something under his breath that finally puts me over the edge. He finally pushed me to my breaking point, then I finally stand up and give back to him what he has always given to me and basically turn into the monster that he wanted me to become just so that he could mutter ‘you’re crazy.’ I finally realize that there’s nothing I can do to win this fight, I can’t cater to his personality, I can’t stand up for myself, and I certainly can’t fight him. The only answer is to leave.
“I think that’s what I want people to take away from this. If this is happening to you, leave. I don’t care what they are to you, I don’t care if you’ll ‘have nothing’ if you leave them. (I know that’s probably what they told you, but they’re lying.) If someone around you belittles you, disrespects you, abuses you physically or verbally, you are much better off with nothing than being with them.
“Oftentimes, in movies we see what a dysfunctional relationship looks like, what an abuser looks like; typically a gruff looking drunkard, a jobless ‘loser’ living in a trailer. Something very stereotypical. But in my experience, it looks a lot different. To me, it looks like the prettiest, wealthiest homes with the dinner table set to perfection, a homemade pie, crystal glasses and refined whiskey. The husband just got home from work, still wearing his suit. In public, he looks distinguished, a well-respected man. Behind closed doors, he is a monster feeding off of a power that he holds over her. That is what a ‘loser’ looks like to me.” — Kaitlin Butts
Photo Credit: Mackenzie Cornwall