You were the one.
Well, you were technically the third one.
I knew it when I saw you after four years. Your smile lit up the room. Your laugh sent a reviving shock straight to my heart. Your voice distracted me from all the noise. Your eyes made me feel seen again.
When you threatened to make me walk back from Utah as I stood outside your car, in gear and ready to take off as we left the La Sal Mountains. When I chose to go to grad school, and you were nothing but envious and passive-aggressively critical of my every move. I had enough criticism during the day, but every dinner felt like another jury, another review, another aimless charrette. When I empathized with you about how shitty your boss was, you told me I didn’t understand the situation. When I remained attentive, but didn’t vocalize in affirmation about how all your friends are lame and how sick you are of the same circle of undergraduate acquaintances, I wasn’t listening.
I knew I was being taken for a ride when you’d pour me another drink, then complain about what a drunk I was. You’d chide me about how I reminded you of the hobo grandfather you never knew when I had a cigarette. When you insisted that I needed to not be so reactive, as you exploded with rage at my every heartfelt word I uttered. When you insisted that we should get high together, “It’ll make you more vulnerable. You need to be more vulnerable. We’ll connect more.”
When I was high, you stayed sober and interrogated me, and asked me why I haven’t slept with more men. “We’re all on the spectrum… there’s no such thing as heterosexual.” You always had an agenda, and you had to mold me into a personal facsimile to feel comfortable with yourself.
I knew I couldn’t go on when you started have suicidal urges as I was on my way out the door. When you started showing up early in the morning, refusing to speak to me. When you stopped taking your medication regularly, as you insisted that I needed to see a therapist. When you cried, then shouted, then started throwing objects and punches as you told me that I’m abusive.
I knew it was over when you insisted that I was the worst person you’ve ever met. When I was most vulnerable, most whole, and most true through the constant wearing down over five painful years, you couldn’t find any more weaknesses to exploit, so you got bored and started playing with chastity belts on some stranger with a micropenis.
It still is, by many accounts.