P seemed to define my entire college experience. I became so pathologically obsessed I could not think of one thing without referring to him, it seemed, although when I think about it I thought about a lot of things without thinking of him. Thank God. I don’t know what happened, if anything. He was dark, bearded, calm, handsome, alcoholic, like my father. He read books and wrote poetry and seemed like he’d never lose his temper, like my father. I was naive enough to think men like that didn’t suffer, they just existed. I have a theory they were so unaware of the reality of this life (that we must grow) that one day things stopped being easy for them and they started drinking to make them easy again because they were entitled pieces of crap, not realizing the not -easy-ness was brought about so that THEY WOULD CHANGE.
I made up a lot of stories about what he owed me, P. I hadn’t ever allowed to think about what my dad owed me, seeing as he was utterly incapable of giving it to me. At the beginning what P owed me was basic respect, which he stopped giving me not long after I stopped talking to him because I was too busy trying to keep our future life together a thing in my head. I tried awkwardly to explain that I was stuck in ninth grade when it came to crushes and I didn’t know how to talk to him, but it was like I was trying to meet him at Grand Central Station and he headed straight for the Baltic Sea, and we never had a meeting of minds, or whatever, again. It was obscenely painful, disappointing, confusing, heartbreaking, and just rotten on his part. I maintain this, because my fixation got worse the more distant he got. Such was my “anxious” attachment to his avoidance, although plenty of LOVELY people explained to me, like they were talking to the stupidest preschooler they’d ever met, THAT WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A RELATIONSHIP.
Well then. Explain why he looks at me until I look over, and when I do he holds my gaze with the look of a boy pulling a cat’s tail in front of his mother and then gradually, with all the nonchalance of sociopath, looks away, and stays distant for some time until he needs reassurance that I am attached again. And it starts all over? Is it all me? I may not be a victim, I may be a little wrong about this person, but he is not NORMAL and SANE. When someone is friendly and warm to you, and suddenly they turn into the meanest, most manipulative and unfriendly jerk ever, that is a weird thing. Even if you know (sort of) what you did to bring it about.
After I met P, I met lots of other men. They all took it really well when I was straight forward with them. P never did. He always took it as an opportunity to deny what I was doing and make me feel stupid. What do you call that kind of person? I hear the word “narcissist” thrown around a lot. I don’t like to use it. Maybe I played as much as 50% of a role in the relationship, but I tried changing, apologizing, communicating, being kind, showing up, and about 274320397809873472 other things, and none of them worked. I am spiraling into despair as I write this, because that was such a horrible nightmare of a “relationship,” which we did NOT actually have, right?
Since that time, I have recovered traumatic memories. P may or may not have played a role in them, which would explain a lot. I have also allowed myself to to think of myself as somewhat more sensitive than ordinary people. I have allowed myself to call people with their “own versions” of my experience which they chose to explain to my face as if I had been wrong forever and thankfully I had met them, stupid. I don’t believe in people who are only victims or only abusers. I believe in people who have under-developed radars in certain areas, and people who have under-developed empathy in certain areas. We were all taught virtue in different ways, and P came from a wealthy-seeming, very white, athletic and polished family who seemed to pride itself on outward appearances. Mine, having been quite poor for a few generations, and had spawned the likes of Ted Kazcinski (yes, we are related), couldn’t really rely on outward appearances for much. Keeping up with the Jones’s was too expensive. I am basically playing victim when I say I was taken advantage of a wealthy man. What really happened is he broke my heart, and he never explained what happened. He never provided that extra pillow for me to land on, the little bit of kindness that others have given me because maybe they were different, had more self-esteem, were more concerned about me than he was.
An astrologer told me that because of the moon he was born under, he is an easy person to project things onto. This makes sense to me. He had a calming presence I don’t think he intended. When caught between a rock and a hard place (and believe me, who you are between a rock and hard place is who you are) he was not kind. He had another role to fulfill than the many expectations of people around him. Or maybe just mine.
My father was as charming , mysterious and absent, although my father was literally absent. P, at least, was around. That might have been a bad thing. It probably was. Often I wish I hadn’t met him. I would have saved myself a lot of humiliation. I think, though I might be wrong, I would have saved myself a lot of awakening as well.
Recently my mother told me I am a mystic, and like most mystics, I am no agnostic, although I am comfortable with the idea of agnosticism. I used to be agnostic. But being abandoned, discovering substances, falling in love with the ghost of my father in an unavailable young man, brought about a hunger for unity with God I could not let go of. And when I say “God,” I mean whatever it is, whatever fragment of myself, I am so certain the other person can provide me. I have read about self-reunification, as I have taken to calling it, from the perspectives of many different religions, as well as non-religious, psychological or “spiritual” opinions on the subject. I fell in love with P because there was something broken in me, and it was so broken I could not feel it. Finding him was like looking over my shoulder and realizing the love, we’ll say it was the sun, I had been seeking my whole life had been there with me the whole time. But somehow it came with the gnarly package of P, and the fact that I liked him and not someone else. What did it mean that I “loved” someone who I perceived to treat me to selfishly?
I could go into a lot self-criticism through that. Instead, I will say, that selfish treatment was the kind I was giving myself, and again, I was so broken I didn’t know it, I couldn’t feel it. Probably worse, sometimes.
I tell this story and people don’t get it, or they get it but it makes them uncomfortable. All I want is for it to one day either not matter or be a story that makes sense, because there was so much of me that I found in that time, like bits of a broken bottle worn down on a beach. And it means so much, still. P became such a source of delusion to me that I sure he represents some sort of deeper lie in me covering some horrible pain that will ultimately be less painful to heal than to keep hiding from myself. As “his” (I put it in quotes because I don’t think he really wields enough power to maintain a hold on me without my help) hold on me subsided, I began to see him for what he was. My kindest and most accurate estimation, after all the misery I when through, was young. Maybe, as Jesus might call some people, poor in spirit. Maybe he didn’t have much to give, and that’s why he was so ungenerous.
But am I being ungenerous? And first of all, am I being ungenerous toward myself, as I accuse him of having been? The answer is certainly yes.