I could never explain you to anyone.
To be fair, much of my adult life thus far has been spent in relationships with emotionally unavailable men. I am nothing if not a warrior.
I claim no such thing as victimhood: I walked headfirst into the flames of you, chin lifted in preparation of the oncoming battle. I could dissect my own psyche until all that’s left are tangled strands of grey matter and some bloodied bone on a filthy floor.
And, my love, I have done all this and more. I have dissected my own mind and my heart and my soul, prostrated myself under the unforgiving operating room lights.
I have spent night after night on my knees, head bowed in reverence, or desperation. I have howled into the abscesses of abandoned buildings, created a cacophony between ancient tree trunks. My mind, my heart, and my knees are tired. My bones still scream your name in the thickest parts of the night.
For, despite it all:
You were my darkest secret and my greatest gift.
I never could explain you to anyone, after all, and I should never have tried. For in doing so—in owning my truth, my mistakes, and my brokenness—I lost people. I lost people who once loved me voraciously. Through you, from you, and after you, I learned the hard, black truth that some loves are conditional.
My love is not. There are no conditions to this heart. In truth, there is no way to know the depths nor the confines of another’s heart. For a moment, a glimmering, glittering moment, you were the best god damn thing in my world. You were exquisite. You were irreplaceable. For years, I read and read about loves like yours. Oceanic, tidal, a hurricane of love. A force of nature; that was you.
When we met, you captured me. You made me believe in you. There were no holes in your stories, there appeared nothing but offering in your palms. Your words were a beautiful onslaught, my first taste of a higher consciousness. I felt lathered in your love. You were consistent, addicted, your words and your body their own forms of worship. You showed me how it felt to be adored. You were your own delicious reverence, the body and the blood, my vicious little love.
But, my darling. Little by little, you began to reveal your truth.
It’s only natural, after all.
One can only wear a mask for so long, even one as astonishingly fitted as yours. It suited you perfectly. But they all did. You, the professional deceiver. You, the mirror of all souls. Who was I to claw my way through your mask? Who was I to know to do so?
Oh, I heard your words of warning. I heard you as you began to reveal the darknesses. And I, too, have such depths. Who was I to judge you for yours, to hold them against you? But you showed me only what you wished, and your actions countered your words. You were so present. You were so damn present, so charismatic, who was I to hear such flimsy words of warning?
To call myself a victim of yours felt like shrugging off my own faults.
For, unlike so many people who are true victims, I was aware of your life—to some extent. As I said, I walked knowingly into your fire. But your fire—it was stronger, brighter, more all-consuming than you ever told me. Your fire was the fire you knew I wanted, and you custom-made it for me.
I did not wish to claim victimhood because it seemed to absolve me of guilt. I own my part of our story. You may never own yours, because you do not have to. Your life continues to go on, for that is what the lives of individuals like you do. They go on—uninterrupted. You know little of hearts, and less of love.
But I fell into you. And you were never you. You created a facade in response to my needs. Everything you ever told me. Every word you ever spoke. Every action you ever took. Every story you ever told. You were a gorgeous, elegant, custom-made human being—that is what the most talented sociopaths become.
You became exactly who and what I needed, craved, desired. You were a mirror of my desires. The emotional turmoil you caused inside me—the questioning of a huge chunk of my life, never knowing now what was real and what was false—this is the most exquisite form of torture, the psychological fire. For yes, I knew of your fire, and I received its burns.
To anyone who is suffering in silence—who may be confused about their current relationship, or their currency as a lover or as a human being.
I know the depths of your suffering, dear one.
I, too, sat in the depths of the confusion. I know it feels trivial when others tell you to simply move on, with their chipper voices and their offers of comfort, however well-intentioned.
I know the darkness. The very idea of leaving feels like removing the skin from your bones and rolling around on gravel without a casing for your soul.
But you must, my love. You must find some sliver of light inside your spirit that calls to you. Come, or go. Wherever they are not, you must be.
And my darling, remind yourself of the truths of who you are. Who you are, just you. Separate from them.
That is just enough to make it out. And then, in that sliver of light you’ve pried open and scrambled out of, more light will be born.
National Hotline for Victims of Domestic Violence: +1 800 799 SAFE