I have been walking around for the past month, paralyzed in fear that I might have finally lost my mind. Gone straight bat shit crazy, repenting for crimes I was sure I had not committed. Where was the person who had pursued me, and wooed me, and told me our brains connected in so beautiful a way? Whose words I had eaten up – each warm kiss, false promise and electric touch – down to the very last crumb. I can still see the haunting smile in the dark that spread across his face when I whispered the words: you make me feel safe.
In the shadow of the night, after a whirlwind of euphoric bliss, he was gone. Disappeared. No call. No warning.
Alone with my thoughts, I paced my apartment in angst; reached out to him over and over again, begging to know what had changed. If this was done, would he not just give me closure? Like heroin to an addict, I needed to hear from him; this mystifying switch filled me with white hot worry. It was a crippling pain he inflicted on my heart, and certainly one different than any form of heartbreak I’d ever known before now. I cared so much for him – would ride or die for him – and he had cut me out. Our time together had been short, but so meaningful – so perceptively real in my mind.
Now I felt lost and alone in my longing to understand, like a naked child who wished only to curl up in the fetal position until the ache went away. In the back of my mind, I knew how troubling my desire to be healed at the feet of the one who hurt me was. This was a very needy, very depressing and unstable desire to have; certainly not one I could ever share with anyone, for even I could not comprehend the spell that had been cast on me.
Then suddenly, he was back with a vengeance. His excuses of where he had been were vague and felt dirty as they rolled off his lips, seeing I knew they were lies but chose not to believe. I sat there in his lap, drunk with his presence. It was Christmas morning and he was the biggest and best gift under the tree. I chose to let ignorance win over logic, swatting away the bone chilling sensation that traveled up my spine; the one that knew he was spinning wild lies. Deep down in my guts, I was too horrified to want to consider someone so enamoring to me could fabricate stories like this. Instead, I kept avoiding mirrors, too ashamed and afraid to face my reflection and beg the real question: who have you become, you weak and insignificant woman?
This pattern kept happening. He was there, then he wasn’t. He came through, then he didn’t. It was a game in which he was the king and I was the puppet. I was drowning, arms flailing – while he held my head under water and watched me die. Yet still, I held onto his initial ask of me the night we met: “don’t give up on me“. He set me up – used my fragile heart, my vulnerability and my tremendous need to play caretaker – then sucked my blood like the vampire he was.
While I was sinking into a sweet puddle of safe synergy between us during our early encounters, he was making mental notes of all the ways he could destroy me in the end. His game of pursuit was no more than him plotting the perfect murder.
The trap continued to be set, and I kept falling into it. When I lost my job, when my brother was ill – he showed no concern. No one had lived more tragic a life than him, so nothing I could say or do would ever be worth his time to pity. I was only a priority when there were no other options, and the pendulum that swung day to day left me nervous to know what I might be punished for next.
Still, I write this and experience a twinge of sadness mixed in my anger. For the whole world breaks my heart when I am forced to see it with eyes wide open; forced to accept that there is evil walking the same sidewalks that I do, hidden behind grandiose masks. My heart breaks for my inner child, too; that I allowed her to wander so far into the woods after dark, only to fall into the arms of an assassin. While I tirelessly obsessed over how I could get through to this riddle of a man, I’d failed to see there was no one taking care of me.
There are so many things I could say to him, but they would never get through. He has iced me out: punished me with his silence that shows how insignificant I ever was to him. He only takes, never gives. He is a serpent in disguise. I am an object and nothing more than his reflection. He only sees himself and never me. How alarming to realize the person you thought you might come to love is no more than cold, hard plastic. A man without a soul. How did I get so far away from myself to be deceived by the blatant lies? How did I think his baggage was a cry for help, and not just an excuse to break the best parts of me down to nothing?
But for me to regain trust in the beauty of the universe, I must come to terms with this on my own. And what I would like to tell him – tell anyone who is so narcissistic and reckless with the hearts of others – I say only to myself:
Vampire, how sad I feel for you. You think you win, but love and empathy always triumph evil. If you are a demon, I am an angel. I will pray for you, and for anyone you suck the blood from who might be found in a place like you found me – scared, alone and a bit down on her luck. I want you to know, despite all those defensive moments in which you repeatedly and defiantly told me I would never figure you out – that no one would ever be able to: my poor darling, it turns out you’re the easiest read of them all. You are so lost, and you found me while I was lost, too. But the difference is that my soul is only lost for now; I can and will turn things around and land back on my feet, far away from the fragmentary girl who looked for love at your feet, even while they kicked me aside. It would appear on the exterior that you have won..but how can someone who cannot feel love really win anything at all? The roads ahead for you are so dark – I do not envy the journey you must walk. I am just happy to not have to travel it with you for one second longer.
I recognize the blame cannot be placed entirely upon him. I played an active and unacceptable role, allowing myself to fall on the sword for someone whose words and actions were so far from one another. I was weak and vulnerable, forgetting what kind of love I deserve. And I’m forced to consider if this toxic encounter was perhaps the best thing that could have ever happened to me, because I can finally begin to investigate my own darkness and why I ever thought it was okay to fall victim to being treated like scum on the sidewalk. No one deserves to be made to feel so small and insignificant, and my soul longs to give so much more. There are so many others I imagine feel the same, so I silently commend you for keeping a kind heart through whatever abuse you have incurred. I pray for strength to know my worth, regardless of any way another person might make me question it.
Life is too short – far too beautiful a thing – to forget to seek the love I give returned to me. If I cannot care for myself, how can I ever expect anyone else to? Love begins and ends right here in my very own fiercely beating heart; and I must be careful not to give it away to those with no intention of keeping it safe.