It doesn’t matter who you are. How pretty, how kind, how smart. He will tell you love that is not love is love. And you will believe him.
In the beginning, he will be everything you ever wanted in a person. He is like no man you’ve ever dated. He pays attention, listens, is so attentive and protective, you cannot believe your luck. You will feel as if you’ve won the lottery. You do not yet know the price of that ticket.
It starts with him not trusting you. You will try to convince him that you’re not like other women, that you will be good to him, that you’re special. But he doesn’t believe you. You’ve never been doubted before, so you stay to prove him wrong, to show him that you are not who he says you are. You are good. You have to prove you are good.
He will make love to you and then he will ignore you for months. He will praise you. He will curse you. He will say this is love — that he loves you more than your friends love you, more than your family loves you.
You’ll feel a dull ache in your belly, like you’ve been punched through your heart and it spread to your middle. You won’t be able to eat. Or sleep. He will tell you that you’re beautiful. He will tell you you’re a whore. He will tell you you’re the love of his life. He will tell you that you ruined his life. He will fawn over you. He will say that you disgust him.
He will go days walking through you, like you are a ghost. Your presence will be empty space. After a while, you will believe it. You will become a ghost. You will look in the mirror and see someone who has died. Maybe you are not good after all.
He will say that no one loves you like he does. He will say that no one loves you. You will try so hard to be the best version of yourself. But nothing is good enough. You are not good enough.
He will call you beloved. He will call you misery. He will say that you are special, that there is no one like you. He will say that it is a good thing that no one is like you. He will pretend in front of the world that he loves you. He will show you behind the closed door that he pushes you through that he doesn’t.
He is the worst kind of fraud. Not the kind who steals money or jewelry, a thief in the night, a robber of things. He will steal your worth. He will tell you that you are not who you are. You are not the person your friends and family believe you to be. You are not you. And only he knows the real you.
He is one thing and then he is the other, a shapeshifter, a devil with the smile and charm of an angel. He is both. He is neither. He will make you feel like you are falling apart and then he will make you fall apart. If you fight back, he will say, “See, it is you, not me.” And you will believe him. You, too, will become suspicious and untrusting. He has set the tone. You will follow.
He is the nice guy, the philanthropist, the office crush, about whom everyone says, “Why can’t he just find a good woman?”
He will cry crocodile tears because he is a crocodile, waiting by the river, his body still, his eyes intent for the next woman to pull in and smother in the waters of his praise, and drown her with his kindness that was never kind, his love that was never love. He will pull you down, because all along it was he who was drowning. He will kill you to save himself. And he will blame it on love. But mostly he will blame you.
When you’ve had enough, when you’re tired of being a ghost, when you finally realize he will never be who he pretended to be, he will stare into your eyes, to hold you there, to make a deal. He is hoping you will take it. Do not take it. Look away. Run. Do not stay to convince him that you were good. You are good. You were good all along.
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