Crossing a Fine Line into Dangerous Territory

“I’m sorry. I can’t meet you for breakfast. My fiancé found out and now she’s mad at me.”

That was the turning point. That was the moment when everything started to fall into place and I started to put together exactly what my relationship with Lennon had really been about. There had been red flags before that but something in that moment – that moment that came after weeks of hashing and re-hashing my feelings for Micah – caused it all to suddenly become as clear as it could have ever been.

I need to take a step away from the narrative for a moment to inject a warning: The rest of this post touches on the subject of emotional and sexual abuse. Please be advised.

I’ve had some time to chew on that moment and all that came before it. And I’m still not sure what to call whatever it was.

My gut reaction is to call it emotionally or (and) psychologically abusive. Gaslighting? Manipulative, at the very least. I had a dream, at one point, where I was telling someone about it and they told me (read: my subconscious used someone else’s face to tell me…), “an ‘unhealthy’ relationship becomes abusive when you are made to feel like you don’t deserve any other option.”

I had other options. I had Cameron. I had David. I took the Israel option. And that wasn’t even the half of it. Several of David’s friends would have jumped at any chance I offered them; a couple of them told me as much. And there were a few in the circle of friends I shared with Cameron, too.

I had other options. But even though I knew I could find … literally, anyone else who would treat me better than Lennon did, I couldn’t walk away. I don’t know that I thought I deserved his treatment, but at the same time, I’m not sure, in the moment, I thought it was bad. Hindsight is, after all, 20/20. And I think I thought I loved him.

It was little things. A lot of little things that added up to a much larger picture. It was him telling me that I might find a real boyfriend, if I’d stop screwing him, while I was on my knees in front of him. It was him lying on top of me, in nothing but a t-shirt, asking me how things were “coming along with Cameron.” It was him wrapping his arm around me and sniffing my hair while I told him about my plans to spend a week with Israel’s family over our Winter break.

It was the day he picked me up from my apartment and took me back to his. We kissed, rounded third base and started toward home plate where he turned on a video game and ignored the half-naked woman in his living room. And not only once.

It was the times he used location to control the situation, refusing to ever use my bed, even when I lived alone and he had roommates.

It was when he told me he wouldn’t touch me again unless I had sex with his neighbor. His female neighbor who was in an “open” marriage (I refused and he eventually gave up the quest…or she did).

It was when he contacted me when he wanted to (cyber) cheat on the girlfriend he had followed to another state.

And it was when he thought an invitation to meet for breakfast was code for something else entirely (that likely also started with a “b”), knowing that I was 100% invested in Micah.

It was an unhealthy situation, without question. But was it abusive? Was it emotionally abusive? Was it sexually abusive even though he always had my consent? My residual reactions leave me wondering. And I’ll probably never, fully, resolve it. It will probably never be more than just another, less-than-sunny chapter in my sexual and romantic history.

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