A little distance is a fine thing, is it not? Torch gone out. Fury all done. Need to blame no longer prevalent. Though I remain wary of the convenient airbrushing of hindsight, I can look at the dynamics of us from the measure of a year and know that without doubt I owe you a debt of gratitude. Not because you were kind or wonderful. Not because you tried to show me something. Rather, because you lied. Because your manipulation was so carefully constructed and wilfully cynical that it astonishes me now to realise that I allowed it into my life for as long as I did.
At the time I satisfied myself with the poetic idea that I was giving you a fair chance; even though my instincts were fairly screaming at me to withdraw. In retrospect, I can see that my hesitations were not so noble. Partly it was a sense of fairness – but it was also a kind of weakness. A hunger. The fear of being alone. Goddamit, even a dose of unrequited lust.
It was that commonly expressed but ultimately forlorn hope: maybe she’ll, perhaps he’ll … But they never do. Or least, they do so rarely enough that it’s not worth the grind and humiliation.
You certainly had no intention though, did you? Your game was sharper, more calculated than mine. You said just – and only just – what you needed to in order to keep me onside. I was a pawn in your Machiavellian politic, a means to a private end. Even your apologies were about personal advantage. You promised without ever intending to fulfil and your frequent sweetness was little more than a calculated sugar hit, doled out to the junkie on your string.
And who was the fool who swallowed it all down? (Oh yeah – that sucker.)
It was only when I could no longer effectively lie to myself that the truth about you could not be denied. And even then, it was only a slip of your tongue that let the cat out of the bag. Even habitual liars tell the truth eventually – usually by mistake.
So why am I thankful? Simple. Because, by your flawed approximation of intimacy, you inadvertently proved to me that it really is okay to draw a line in the sand. I don’t have to be an all forgiving Jesus figure anymore. I can have the guts to say no – this is not acceptable. I will not tolerate this. You can be damned in my estimation. Held to account.
The real beauty here though, is that I can say all this with without the hyperbole of impotent rage. I can simply assert it as a free choice. A decision I make about what I want in my short and tenuous life. (Certainly not you and your ilk.)
Whilst I readily concede that we all act out of self-interest – that we all lie, scheme and cheat to achieve our objectives – I am satisfied that I and most others learn at a relatively young age that the conscious manipulation of other people’s affections is cruel and cowardly. It singles out those people who employ these tactics as unworthy of my time and energy. For I am not here to heal or save them from their misdemeanours; that is a messianic delusion from which you have saved me.
So please, do not for a moment consider this missive a bridge back. It is the rubble by the riverside. It is the deconstructed act that I once chose to believe – now seen for what it was.
I seek, nor offer, the easy palliative of middle class forgiveness. I have no message or advice for you. Only profound thanks. For by your deceptions I have unearthed a truth about myself; and the next time I encounter somebody like you – which I surely will – I will know exactly what to do.
It will doubtless mean little to you to hear me say that this fact is nothing short of a beautiful liberation. From neediness. From fear. From lack.
From predators like you.