There I was on Facebook, innocently commenting on a post of a mutual friend we shared regarding our most favorite TV show. You interjected with your wit and amity and before I knew it the friend request was forthcoming. I never accept friend requests from strangers, that I told you, but surely I can make an exception for someone who shares the appreciation for one of the best shows of all time. Plus our mutual friend vouched for you. She said you were a bit a flirt but that you were like that with everyone, and not to worry, you were “good people”. The typical friendly Southern gentleman. You lived 860 miles away. What harm could possibly come of this?
As the months went by, the exchanging of an occasional photo like or a funny quote among one another was par for the course. You were a casual online commentator who I did not mind interacting with on an intermittent basis. Until the evening you messaged me privately to compliment me on a recent picture I posted of myself. Again, I attributed this to your friendly demeanor which I was told about in advance. But your messages continued. You wanted to know all about me. For a fleeting moment this seemed so unusual to me. I was nervous but damn…you were so sweet and flattering, showering me with compliments and pleasantries. So it went on from there as we learned more about one another. You knew all the right things to say. You must have had a sixth sense of how lonely I was because before I realized what was happening, phone numbers were exchanged and we were texting. I never exchange my information with “Internet strangers” let alone those who live so far away, but there was something about you that felt right to me. Then the first phone call (of many) came where I heard your voice and was completely smitten. Hours turned into days turned into weeks as you made me feel like I was the most important person in your world. And you knew you were in mine. All that was left was arrangements to meet. And while that did eventually happen, it all happened so fast and I should have seen the warning signs. But who usually does when it feels so amazing?
But let me go back to the part where I was blinded again, only because it felt so amazing compared to the opposite hell I now feel deep within. I felt like I had known you my whole life. You felt like home. Your sense of humor, your vast vocabulary, your laugh, your smile, your…brightness. I nicknamed you Sunshine for your smile. Was it all fake? Were you even real? I used to ask you if you were real and you replied “I love you and I am goddamned real”. And you said I was as gentle as a dove, so you nicknamed me Paloma. You also told me you were a bad person and I was a good person. I thought that was odd but I shrugged it off and told you not to be silly.
I remember when I first realized I was in love with you and I told you. It was when I saw that picture you posted from your show. You were at rehearsal, sitting down on the floor, one hand up on your piano, your fingers resting on the keys as you had a contemplative look about you. It was a candid shot and you were annoyed at the person who took it and said you did not like the picture. I told you it was the best picture I ever saw. That I felt like I saw your soul in that picture. How could I have been so wrong? Who falls in love with someone without even meeting them? Yeah that would be the fool known as me. When I met you face to face the magnetic pull I felt between us was ridiculous and intoxicating. You stimulated not just my body but my mind as well. You lived a simple country life. In a small town where everyone knew everyone. You played piano for the church. Yes, a southern gentleman they all said. I had no idea you were only reading to me from the “Encyclopedia of Narc” as you spun your illusion on me.
Soon the “bad person” comment began to make more sense as you told me you were married and had a child. But you saw nothing wrong with your relationship with me as long as it did not interfere with your marriage. You told me the last one did. You were caught out in town canoodling with your former mistress. It was an ugly showdown, you told me. You destroyed your wife and the mistress and yet you had me feeling so sorry for YOU. Horrible people blackmailed you with their evidence of your affair and forced you to tell the truth to your wife. And so you did. You came clean and told everyone you lost your mind and were so selfish and wrong. What happened to the other girl? Yes I had the audacity to ask. Oh, her? She was crazy. Selfish. Delusional. Wanted more than you could give her, you said. Nothing at all like me, you said. You could not believe you were going to leave your family for her. You told me you lost your mind and that getting caught made you come to your senses. You cut ties and never spoke to her again. You never thought you would be caught up in this situation again. You said what happened with her would never happen with me because I was “different”. You were still reading to me from your Narc textbook.
You began to get distant and push me away. Said you were busy, depressed, filled with guilt and shame. Said that being in love with my predecessor destroyed your life and you could not be in love with me anymore. You said you were not honoring the 2nd chance your wife gave you by being caught up with me. Well no, I guess you are not. But that was just your excuse to push me away. But you always came back. And then you pushed me away again. Repeat repeat repeat. God only knows how many others you were reading to from your book, along with me and her.
Then came the never ending contradictions. You never spoke to her again but now you still keep in touch. Said that you cannot just leave her, that you owe her and need to be there for her. That you were able to get past it all and “be friends”. You wanted the same for us and said distance was best. That you were doing the right thing because you loved me. But then the contradictions continued. You never loved me and I was a fling. You continued reading your Narc book to me. The story kept changing, but you still read to me.
At the start of our relationship I never stopped talking. You told me you loved it. You often compared me to a book, an encyclopedia even. Of course as time went on you talked less and less but reminded me you were “filled with just as much encyclopedic rhetoric” as I was, if not more. All you were doing was reading to me from your “Book of Narc”, but I never realized it. Every day you would read to me. Then it was every week. Then eventually every few weeks with a silent treatment in between (which was always due to your overwhelming guilt). But you always read to me. Read to me from your book. You read it all to me and fed it all to me and I swallowed it. Figuratively and literally. As my mouth was your favorite place to be, as you often told me, second to my brain most likely. You amplified me. In every way. And then you cut the power cord.
Finally after your latest guilt tripping pity party, I called you out on the sex site profiles I found online. How could you tell me you felt so guilty being with me, and you wanted to be faithful to her yet you could hook up with total strangers? I hoped for some kind of explanation. I hoped they were old profiles that maybe you forgot to delete. But you flipped your shit at me and told me I was crazy and in need of therapy. You said that my perception of you was not real. Yet you never even acknowledged what I uncovered. You just twisted it all around and blamed me like it was my fault. My fault for wanting more. My fault for loving you. My fault for wondering why you can fuck total strangers and then whine about guilt and shame for not being faithful, using it as an excuse to push me away from you. And that I had the nerve to call you out on it. I often wonder if you know what you are but that you just deny what you are. When I asked how many partners you had it was 30. Then it was 40. Then it was “I have lost count”. “This is how I express my affection” you said. “But it is wrong of me to do that”. (yet you keep doing it). You then closed the latest chapter of your Narc book and told me to “leave you alone now”. Is that your way of saying “The End?”
I don’t want to leave you alone. I want you to open that book and read more to me. Tell me that this has a happy ending. Don’t leave me hanging. But I also want to take that book and hit you on the head with it. Tear out all the pages and throw them at your feet. Burn it. Demand a rewrite of the chapters, offer to rewrite them myself, because it should not have to be like this. I know I deserve a better story yet I want our story. I do not want the story to end. I know it is not my book. It is your book. You just read to me from it and I played your part. And every time you read from it, the story kept on changing. And I wonder if maybe your wife gets a different version of the story. If she gets the happily ever after. Or whomever else is in the book. You skipped over their chapter when you read it to me. And did you skip over me when you read it to the others? Those chapters you bookmarked for later as you went backward and forward throughout your book, rewriting the story. But I will never know as you hold the book and control what happens. And now it seems you want to close the book and put it back on the bookshelf. With me inside.
Until you decide to dust me off, let me out, read to me again…
I remain. I wait.