Living with a Stranger

It had taken a long time for me to realise that I was living with a stranger. It wasn’t so much that we had started out so well and grown apart like I had been imagining for months. I just had never seen Megan clearly before. It wasn’t until I really got to know her that all the crazy came out.

I like to think I’m good with crazy. Like when someone goes in meltdown or an overreaction to something. I can even manage people that shit-stir and lie through their teeth. That sort of crazy I know how to deal with. You can either confront it or walk away. This wasn’t quite what I was dealing with.

Nothing added up anymore, I don’t know if Megan even believed half the things she would say to me anymore. There were inconsistencies, guilt trips, lies and omissions that all niggled away at me over time. What was the girl hiding? Why was she hiding things from me? What could possibly be the problem? Was she ever that person she presented to me in those early days that I fell in love with? I couldn’t say yes to that last one, that’s what was torturing me.

I felt like I had been taken in by all those promises that we had each made each other. I always intended to keep mine. I don’t think Megan ever did, or if she did it was the best lie she ever told herself. Night after night I sat across from Megan in our too large apartment on our too large sofa with nothing to say, I didn’t even recognise her as the girl I’d fallen in love with all those months before.

I had naively held onto the hope that she was still in there somewhere, that one day she might get over what ever it was that was coming between us. I imaged it would be like the clouds shifting in the sky and the sun bursting through again, it was never going to happen. The girl in the sunshine was an illusion that was never meant to last, Megan wasn’t that person and would never know how to be that person.

Sure it might have started innocently, she might have truly wanted to be that girl. I think her intent started out well-meaning with aspirations that if she wasn’t that person yet, she would be. That’s why she was so adamant about things like coming to London and then when that didn’t magically fix the darkness inside her she blamed London and not the root cause of the problem, she had always acknowledged her mental health problems and I won’t pass judgement on that.

What I will pass judgement on is her behaviour that affected me. I don’t care who you are or what your problems might be. If you’re lying to yourself, suffering with an illness or just a lying good-for-nothing cheater it doesn’t give you the right to make someone else feel terrible just to spread it around a bit.

Not for a pro-longed time anyway, where there’s darkness there should be light and even when you’re in the depths of despair try to find joy in the simpler things that you might usually take for granted. We all have bad days and lash out at the ones we love, I know I’ve done it. What I can’t stand is the abuse of months upon months of playing games with someones loyalty, love and affection.

The girl I fell in love with, she’d never abuse anyone like that and least of all me. Yet here I was, letting her abuse me like that. Letting her push me to the brink of losing my mind when she’d push me away with her actions and pull me back with her words. All the times I had no choice but to accept what she told me because how heartless would I be to get angry at her when she was battling mental illness?

It took too long for me to see what she was doing. Slowly all the behaviour seemed to start telling me a story I didn’t want to see. I still wanted to know I was right, I didn’t want to be a monster. I didn’t want to walk away from someone I loved who truly was mentally ill and needing help. I just found that harder and harder to believe.

When you piece it together with the behaviour like using my laptop but password protecting it so that I can’t even use it anymore. Or taking her phone everywhere with her when we used to be so casual about reading each others messages to each other when we were driving. I had even noticed how she went from talking about one of her colleagues constantly until I pointed out that he was hitting on her and then she never spoke about him again, despite claiming he was one of her closest friends at work. I think you can already tell the conclusion I should have made… I just didn’t want to believe it. The girl I fell in love with wouldn’t have done something like that.

What’s more, the girl I fell in love with would have had no problems in handling my insecurities (if that’s all it was) and would have happily shown me that there was nothing to worry about. When you have a guilt-free conscious there’s nothing to hide. Megan was hiding behind that person that she had pretended to be and I was slowly beginning to see her for who she really was.

I had swallowed all her stories about the traumas in her past, the behaviour of her ex-girlfriend and her ex-girlfriend’s Dad when she had claimed he’d continually hit on her. I had believed that she had suffered with depression, that at times it had been so bad that she wouldn’t even look after herself.

Things just didn’t add up anymore, I was certain that if I had both sides of the story things would look very different indeed. Did her ex really emotionally blackmail her with threats of killing herself if she left, did they really get into physical altercations. I can’t honestly say, I was never there and I never heard both sides. As for the other stories, sometimes they were half-way corroborated by people she had known but I never asked for details out of respect because I didn’t want her to have to rehash past traumas.

The girl had a flare for the dramatic, and I’d been caught up in it from day one without even realising where I was. All the months of arguing and shouting blue-murder at each other was me exiting that ‘eye of the storm’ and finding my way back to my own blue skies again. I had promised myself that I’d never be in a relationship that made me doubt, drove me crazy and quite frankly scared me like this and yet here I was.

I had gone for a long drive after work one day in Megan’s car with all this buzzing around in my head. I didn’t want to confront her, I didn’t want another argument. I just wanted the madness to be over, a part of me still hoped she was being as honest as she claimed, that all this might still be overcome and we could find some happiness in our futures, together. She was cruel enough to keep feeding that hope over the waining months. I just couldn’t continue with scraps of her affections anymore, I finally decided I deserved more.

I went home that night, sat on the stairs in our apartment and asked her “What are we? Because I don’t think you’ve been my girlfriend for months.”

And that was the start of the end.

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