I spend my time switching back and forth between images of you. Sometimes you are so sweet and warm and seem entirely genuine. When I am entertaining that picture of you—as my sincere, wonderful boyfriend, your only flaw impatience or pride or some other entirely human, normal flaw—I just can’t believe my luck. I’m stunned that someone like me could possibly have found someone like you.
But sometimes I begin rethinking everything. My view shifts for a few days and I start seeing every move you make as if through a screen. I get to wondering if every lovely thing you say to me, every charming gesture—everything that makes you so great—is in fact a calculated attempt at manipulating my feelings towards you.
During those periods, when I look at you, I find myself thinking Narcissist. Sometimes I even think Psychopath. I would never outright accuse you of being either of these things. I’m no psychologist; I certainly can’t diagnose anyone. But more and more often I lie next to you at night and instead of considering how amazing you are and how lucky I am, I wonder when it will become outright, no-excuses obvious to me who you really are. I try to guess at what point my view will finally stop shifting, when it will cease to keep reverting back to that old rosy vision of you, and the real image will stick.
Love is not the same thing for everyone. The meaning, the feeling, the consequences and risk involved…they are never the same. I know that for you it is very different from the way it is for me. To you, love is dependent upon the gratification of certain desires you have, and the words “I love you” are handed out like treats to an obedient dog. And, tail wagging, I accept them. What else can I do when you look at me like that? Like you own me, like I am nothing without your affection.
Love is selfish. For some people more than others, true, but romantic love always connotes some form of possession or the fulfillment of a need. To me, love means that I have found something I can cling onto. Something that relieves loneliness, distracts me from the black chaos swirling around inside my head. It blunts something in there, muffles the voice screaming that I hate me, that I should die.
Love helps lessen the darkness, until it becomes the darkness.
It blinds me, sends me spiraling into a whirlpool of confusion and anger and paranoia and doubt. Caught under your spell, I fall into the depths and cannot see a way out.
My word for love is darkness.
What does love do for you? It doesn’t weaken you—rather, it builds you up, gives you a constant source of affection and positive feedback and affirmation. You can get everything you want from the person who loves you.
You can take, and do take, and will take…from me, or whoever comes after me.
Your word for love is greed. And I know you will always love yourself more.
Sometimes things slide off the supports they rest on and their underlying truths are revealed. Reality surges up from below. Sometimes when I am looking into your eyes I can see it: a blankness deep down in the brown. Not a blackness but a blankness. Something incomplete. It’s like looking at what I thought was a hole or a well and suddenly my depth perception rights itself and I see it is only a black spot on the floor. Or passing by what I think is a motionless person but when I glance back, it’s really a mannequin.
In these moments and days and months that pass I am being held by a mannequin.
More and more I find myself wondering if it even matters if your words to me are genuine. If it matters if any piece of you that I see is genuine. Because I think I know the answer already, and what does that say about me? That I know it, and stay with you anyway.
Whenever I look into your eyes, I can never glimpse anything real. They are only two flat mirrors reflecting my own darkness back to me.