Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
The first encounter took place in the early afternoon, on our college campus. I had to pass through the cafeteria, usually a heavy traffic area, and I knew he would be there looking for me. I assumed the lunch-going crowd would cover me nicely, and I could thusly cower out of all of my brave plans to tell him off.
Instead, I walked into the building and found that the cafeteria was deader than a Texas salad bar. So I did what any sane person would do.
I stopped dead in my tracks, retreated, and dove into the closest elevator.
Here, in seclusion, and with my finger on the “doors closed” button, I took a breath. Why was I running? I asked myself. What was it about this meager Nintendo geek that made me so afraid to stand up for myself?
Suddenly, the elevator doors parted (meaning that that “doors closed” button is about useless) and one of the facilities workers wheeled her cleaning cart into the small space. Mentally scrambling, I attempted to compose myself. The woman looked at me concernedly.
“You okay hon?” she asked me.
So much for composure.
I nodded unconvincingly.
We sat there in the elevator, going neither upward nor downward, and that’s when I realized… there was only one way out of the building: the front doors. There absolutely no way to leave without passing him.
She was still watching me concernedly.
“My ex is out there,” I explained. “And I have to walk right past him.”
“Ah.” She looked sympathetic. “Good luck, hon.”
The elevator doors, with somewhat ironic timing, opened at that moment. Sort of like fate was telling me here’s your chance! Now’s the time to declare your independence! To be free! To finally kick this asshole in the groin and run like hell!
So I sucked in a deep breath and walked out, attempting to make myself small.
You could guess about how well that worked.
He spotted me immediately, and called “Hey!”.
For just a millisecond I paused, because I knew exactly who he was calling out to, but I tried to play it off, like my suitcase got stuck in some imaginary dent in the carpet. I made it about five feet out the doors before he caught up to me, and demanded that I not ignore him.
First of all, if I want to ignore you, I will damn well ignore you.
Secondly, I was slightly disgusted with myself. He was plainly still telling me what to do, and I didn’t have the guts to tell him off.
I continued walking, hoping he would like, not follow.
You could guess about how well that worked, too.
He stopped on the sidewalk halfway through the conversation and I stopped as well. I didn’t even think about it, I just let him control the situation again.
“Well, I just wanted to say hi,” he told me, effectively ending the conversation.
“Well… hi,” I laughed awkwardly. Then we parted ways.
I continued on to meet up with a friend, who taught me how to play chess in the two hours that passed, and then I returned to the cafeteria, where I would be meeting my grandmother.
She is the sweetest, most supportive grandmother in existence, and she like likes to check on me from time to time. Today, the plan was to get lunch together and chat about college, life, stuff, etc.
We had a nice time, and about an hour into the chat, the subject of my ex came up.
“I think I’m finally ready to give him the slip,” I told her. “I’ve finally recognized that he treats me badly.”
“Yeah, he does,” she agreed.
“I just lost all sense of identity when he came around,” I explained. “He just manipulated me into being whatever he wanted me to be.”
“Yeah, he did,” she agreed.
What I didn’t know was that the subject of our conversation was sitting through a final just above us, on the second floor, and would be passing through at any minute.
Just as I was explaining that I was beginning to hate the guy’s guts, he came down the steps that were about six inches away from where we sat bashing him.
“Am I permitted to join this conversation?” he asked.
Once again, I clammed.
Oh sure, I wanted to say, very sweetly, “Uh. No.” and return to bashing him behind his back. Instead, it was as though my teeth were cemented together with tar.
My grandmother looked at me, looked at him, and looked at me. I gave the tiniest head shake of disapproval, and she explained very sweetly, “We are having a private conversation. So, no.”
What ensued was simultaneously the funniest and the most surprising scenario possible.
He stuttered for a few minutes, and left.
Not only had I forgotten that he stuttered (he only did that when we first started dating, a nervous habit) but I also realized that the true inner beast had been revealed; not that cocky, condescending asshole who persuaded me (the anti-gym girl) to go to the gym, because my unclothed body bared “Greek pudge”. Not the jerk who made me chose between him and my family. Not the complete ass hat who cracked consistent fat jokes about my father. No, this guy was meek and scared. This guy looked about as tough as a dead leaf.
Finally, I had some evidence to demystify any guesses as to the psychological state of my ex-boyfriend!
He is a NARCISSIST to the CORE.
I knew it before, which is why I was so afraid to hurt his feelings. I knew the repercussions. Rejection sends him into a spiral of paranoia, anxiety, and self-doubt. I spent hours, days, months trying to talk him out of these spirals. Now I was the cause of one.
And you know what?
I don’t actually care.
If you have a seizure because my grandma said you couldn’t join our conversation, well. There’s really no hope for you.
As predicted, he has sent me more messages in the last twelve hours than he has for the past two weeks. He’s just doing the narcissist thing, putting out some vibes and reading what he gets back. Sniffing the air like a snake.
I’ve decided I’m not playing his game anymore. I sent him a meager ‘haha thanks’ in reply to a (frankly stupid) birthday message. (The word girl has one r, not 14.) Beyond that, I want nothing to do with him.
This is me standing up for myself in the best way I can. While I don’t think this is the end, because he isn’t going to give up (what is the definition of insanity… say it with me folks), I am comfortable with ignoring him for the time being. (That’s right. I’m DAMN WELL IGNORING HIM!) (see above)
Someday, he and I will meet again. Next fall, we will have classes on the same campus, likely in the same building. And I will have to put on my big girl pants (read: bitch pants) and tell him to step off. Until then, I dedicate this summer to someone whom I have ignored for a very long time.
This will be a summer of figuring out who I am, sans friend/ex-boyfriend/whatever he is this week. This will be a summer of hard work, self-discovery, and renovation. This will finally be a summer… for me.