Brainscan 21: irreconcilable differences
This zine is complicated.
I don’t mean that comment to be flippant or dismissive. Quite the opposite. I’ve never read a zine that had me examining my own behaviour and the behaviour of my partner to the extent that I felt the need to sit down and have an intense talk with my partner about our relationship. It’s that level of personal involvement with the content and its implications that earns it this comment from me.
As Alex Wrekk puts it, Brainscan 21: irreconcilable differences “started out as a letter to explain my perspective to someone, to give context to my behaviors and concerns.” Inside, Alex documents thoughts, feelings, and the unanswered questions that surrounded her through her six-year relationship that eventually came to an end due to many things including emotional abuse.
What makes this zine a complex one is that it addresses the issues of emotional abuse and power dynamics within relationships. In school, I was taught about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and even mental abuse in a rather cut and dried, black and white manner. But emotional abuse can be a more complicated issue and thus brushed over. And yet I feel like it’s so important because it’s the subtlety of this kind of abuse that can make it so dangerous.
At one point, Alex talked about having picked up a few of the bad behaviours from her ex-partner and how she’d caught herself using them. It was one of those examples that prompted me to have a sit down with Wanderer about the dynamics in our relationship.
Though Alex does talk about specific events, this zine is not a tit-for-tat list of every argument or event. Alex keeps it very much to her perspective, thoughts, and feelings during this time. If I had to guess, I’d say it was written very close to everything or at least during a time when everything was still quite raw. There’s an almost ‘foggy’ nature to some of Alex’s writing, especially at the end when musing the bigger picture: abuse in a society that seems to support the psychopath, the sociopath, the abuser, the manipulator. A ‘fogginess’ that I recognise in myself.
As someone who grew up with abuse, however, it’s hard not to inject my own thoughts and feelings regarding working through things into Alex’s experience of working through things. This is also something that makes this zine complicated – at least, for me to review it.
All in all, this is a zine I would recommend because there’s so much here to think about but also because it’s important for these experiences to be shared.