mike. finally.

A couple of years ago, I met someone who changed my life.

His name is Mike.

I have not written much about Mike before, except in the most oblique reference.  I do not really talk about him except to my very closest friends.  I try not to think about him and what happened.

But I think it’s time.

When I met Mike, I was in a sad and vulnerable place and he was like the sun I hadn’t felt in years.  He was charming and funny and sexy and smart and interesting and informed.  He had eyes I could look into for hours, a mouth I could kiss for days, and a body that was astonishingly flawless.  We talked constantly and for hours on end and never grew tired of each other.  When we were together, neither of us could keep a goofy smile off our face.  I fell fast and I fell hard and I fell for real.

He did and said everything I had ever hoped for.  He wanted to know everything about me and he loved everything he discovered.  He loved my voice (“God, I could listen to you read the phone book,” he once told me); he loved my freckles (“You make them sexy.”); he loved my silly flannel pjs (“Doesn’t matter what you wear, you make everything look hot.”).  And I loved everything about him; I honestly would not admit to a single thing I would have changed.  We talked about how lucky we were to have found each other and how amazing life was going to be now that we had.  He was everything I’d ever wanted.  I thought I had found my soul mate, my one and only, my perfect match.

Boy, was I wrong.

When it ended with Mike I cried every day for weeks on end.  I threw myself into dating with a kind of blind, frenetic energy that only resulted in a few poor choices and no salvation.  I worried that I would never find someone who loved me like he had or for whom I had that same powerful connection.  I seriously wondered if I would ever get over him.

And then one day, I discovered who he really was, and it left me breathless.  I suddenly realized that the man with whom I’d been so desperately in love was a charlatan, a cad, a pretender.  Everything he’d ever told me — about us, himself, or anything at all — suddenly was called into question.  When my brain thought of something he’d told me, it was prefaced or followed by “allegedly.” I realized that I’d fallen completely and utterly in love with a truly terrible man.

It’s impossible to know how much of what Mike said to me was the truth and how much of it was a lie.  There is some evidence to suggest that he actually did love me, at least at some point.  There is also ample evidence to suggest that he is a pathological liar and that I was but one in a very long string of women that he deceived.

There were, to be sure, some warnings of his true nature.  And we’re not talking little red flags, here.  Oh no.  We’re talking large, blinking neon signs.  Plenty of indicators that this man was not worthy of my time or attention, but I rationalized them all away.  Looking back, I realize clearly that his lack of integrity and compassion and sincerity was obvious, but I never saw it then.  I was too busy being in love with him to trouble myself with such trifling issues.

When I met Mike, I knew immediately that he was going to open up a whole new world for me.  Sadly, I didn’t realize that it would be a world in which I no longer have faith in myself or my decisions about men.  Mike taught me a lot, to be sure, but they are lessons I could have happily lived without.

Mike taught me that some people are simply incapable of the kind of love that I want to give and receive.  My therapist has helped me understand that some people are truly closed off in ways that I had never imagined.  They have walls that they hide behind and have no intention of crawling over, for anyone, ever.  I thought that everyone eventually wanted to be known and accepted, wholly and completely and without reservation.  I thought that everyone eventually wanted intimacy and connection on a deep and significant level.  It honestly never occurred to me that a man might actually want to be an island.  Until Mike.

Mike taught me that I would not necessarily recognize an asshole when I met him.  Or even when I fell in love with him.  Before Mike, I had dated some guys who weren’t any good for me, to be sure, but they weren’t bad people.  They were troubled or at a bad place in their life; they weren’t players who wanted to see how much they could get away with, without regard for anyone else’s feelings.  When they hurt me, they actually felt bad about it.  But Mike never seemed to feel bad about anything, and not just with me.  He seemed to be able to shrug off anything and everything he did to anyone.  I thought he was “easy-going”; now I realize he’s almost completely lacking in empathy or compassion.  I didn’t realize that such a man could fool me.  Until Mike.

Mike taught me that some people will say whatever is necessary to get what they want.  When I think about how masterfully he manipulated me, it still leaves me kind of stunned.  From our first conversation, to his first “I love you,” to his equivocal distancing later on, he adroitly moved the relationship exactly in the direction and at the pace that he wanted.  Even as things were ending, he was shameless in his willingness to lie and distort or massage the truth.  After months of telling me how much he loved me, he suddenly did an about-face and insisted that he’d never wanted anything serious, that I had invented it all in my head, that he’d been clear with me from the beginning.  It was crazy-making.  I spent too many nights second-guessing myself — had I misunderstood everything?  Was I clinically neurotic?  Was he really this great guy that I’d somehow messed everything up with?  I didn’t realize that being smart wouldn’t protect me from being manipulated.  Until Mike.

Mike taught me that some people will see my niceness and vulnerability as weaknesses and exploit them accordingly.  Mike used to always tell me that one of things he loved best about me was how nice I am… how much and deeply I care for the people around me and how my friends value me.  He used to say that he admired my “realness.”  I had always figured that these attributes were things about me that people would like and value and protect if they cared about me.  Until Mike.

I have long known — and have positive proof of it my own life — that one person can change another in profound and powerful ways, but I suppose I mostly thought about that in terms of good ways, not bad ones.  To be sure, I have had men do rotten (even criminal) things to me, but none have left me as uncertain in my own good judgment as Mike has.  None have made me question the motivations behind even the sweetest gestures as Mike has.  None have created as much fear around relationships as Mike has.  My friend Annie suggested today that perhaps dating at our age would necessarily involve more doubt and more hesitancy and less patience for perceived hurts and shortcomings.  I believe she is absolutely right.  After all, we all have more experiences — and those include more bad experiences — informing our behavior and our choices.  We are bound to be a little less fearless, a little more cautious, a little more skeptical.  And I think that I was pretty normal in that regard.  Until Mike.

Mike left a bad legacy in his wake, but perhaps the most damaging was my lack of faith in my own judgment.  I realized recently that my biggest fear around relationships is discovering that the man I am with is not at all who I thought he was.  That kind of realization is like a baseball bat to the belly — spinning you around, leaving you breathless and dizzy and dazed and doubled over from the pain.  I know that things sometimes don’t work out — most relationships do end — but being completely blindsided by your man as the relationship falls apart is a whole other story.

It’s odd to see what fear can do to you… to watch it from outside and see how it manipulates your reactions and your choices.  To feel your confidence in your own judgment about men evaporate and discover an insecurity you never knew before.  To see yourself behaving in ways that were never a part of who you were before him.  I feel Mike’s  lingering influence as an icy cold grip on my life, strangling my relationships.  After him, I spent more than a year running away at the first hint of trouble in any relationship, until I was spent from running and sick of his ghost.

So now I do the only thing I can:  I try and fight back.  I try to push through my fears.  I have ridiculous conversations with myself, reminders that the Mikes of this world are rare and I hadn’t encountered one before him and am unlikely to encounter another.  I try to make conscious, deliberate decisions, so that I won’t slip unknowingly into that same dark place again.  I try to remember what it was like — what I was like — before Mike. I try to see my reactions and fears for what they really are — just remnants of pain that I don’t have to embrace anymore.  I try to remember that Mike didn’t force me to do anything; I was a willing participant in that relationship and I have the ability to avoid those situations.

And I do these things with varying degrees of success.

I think I am writing about this now to try and release it.  To try and not give him any more of my life than he’s already taken.  To try and quiet his echo. Once and for all.  I don’t often use my blog in this fashion, but a friend recently told me that sometimes you have to announce your biggest fear as a means of overcoming it.  So here I am.  Doing it.  I want it done.  I don’t want to be afraid that every man I date will end up another Mike.  I want to give each guy his own chance to prove himself or fail, all on his own merits.  I want to shrug off the cynicism that Mike shouldered me with and re-discover just a little bit of the hopeless romantic he bruised.   I want him gone.  For good.  I want to be free.  Finally.

Once and for all.

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20 Comments

Filed under dating, divorce, general musings, healing, love, personal growth, relationships, sadness, single mom

20 responses to “mike. finally.

  1. An incredibly powerful post.

    When I was younger, I knew a couple of guys who would do or say anything at all get a girl into bed. One in particular always is the younger brother of a good friend. He scared me because he was very clever and could ‘read’ girls well (“women” would be the right term for someone older, of course). He had big eyes and a ready smile. Couple that with persistence and intelligence and no morals whatsoever and it was bad news for females.

    My first serious girlriend was overseas for some months. He decided to make her one of his projects. I accidentally discovered a letter from her to him in my friend’s house. It was already too late to stop the inevitable and when she returned from England, she broke up with me to go out with him. A few months later, he dumper her to move on to the next conquest.

    You personally are not one of his conquests, on the basis of geography alone, but you represent exactly the kind of emotional destruction he left in his wake. On behalf of all guys, I apologize for the mess these guys leave behind.

    As you said, they’re rare and you need to find a way around these a**holes to leave yourself open to a new love. As much it hurts to see a relationship fail (to put it plainer: to be dumped), I’m convinced that putting up too many barriers to protect ourselves simply blocks ‘good people’ from getting in.

    • SD, clearly you know exactly the kind of man to which I was referring…. there’s something almost predatory in their behavior, isn’t there? The funny thing about Mike was that he didn’t even have the basic decency to prey on one of us at a time. He would have let it keep going for as long as I was willing to play the game. Ick.

      I think the worst thing about a guy like Mike is what he does for the guys who come after him…. who are just trying to muddle through their own stuff and create something special with a woman they care for. It’s the main reason I think my male friends would honestly harm him if they ran into him. Because good men pay for the sins of the Mikes of this world tenfold.

      It’s always good to hear from a good guy.

  2. I have to add something here. Whatever that asshole did to you, didnt it transform you?
    You learnt your lesson, even if the hard way.
    Yes you cant find out who’s honest and who isn’t, but its only when you fall hard, you rise higher!
    You know i’ve had a couple of guys doing this to me. Telling me they’re in love, while they were lying. About everything.
    It took time, but i moved on too.
    Life doesnt stop at a Mike, love.

    Drop into my blog sometime. 🙂
    http://www.ravenousforlife.wordpress.com

    • Thanks for that. Yes, he did transform me; he changed my life in many, many ways. And yes, there were actually some bits of good that came from that relationship.

      I thought being over him meant that I was over IT, too, but I realize now that I’m not. But I’m working on it.

      I’ll check out your blog soon. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Your words below, describe yy X’s J. She thinks he sees her to the depths of her soul. Look up the definition of Dark Triad personality…it seems to fit your Mike too. I’m so sorry that he was this person for you.

    ” But Mike never seemed to feel bad about anything, and not just with me. He seemed to be able to shrug off anything and everything he did to anyone. I thought he was “easy-going”; now I realize he’s almost completely lacking in empathy or compassion. I didn’t realize that such a man could fool me. Until Mike.

    Mike taught me that some people will say whatever is necessary to get what they want. When I think about how masterfully he manipulated me, it still leaves me kind of stunned. From our first conversation, to his first “I love you,” to his equivocal distancing later on, he adroitly moved the relationship exactly in the direction and at the pace that he wanted. Even as things were ending, he was shameless in his willingness to lie and distort or massage the truth. …”

    • LFBA,

      If your X really has aligned herself with a Mike-like man, have compassion for her. Her suffering will be far worse than anything you could inflict on your angriest day, and it will be made all the worse by the knowledge that she is responsible, too, because she invited him into her heart….

      • As I have known him for 30 yrs…and he is a master manipulator with the ability to fake sincerity better than anyone I have ever seen…yes he is a mike. he left wife #3 for my X…seduced her with his “compassion and understanding”. I have seen the path of destruction he has left behind for much of that time.

        After her first affair with him…I had nothing but compassion and love. But, this is round # 2 and this time she officially left me (but he had nothing to do with that according to her, even though she was seeing him for 6 weeks before she decided to tell me she wanted a trial separation and all during that time he was trying to help her with her relationship with me….according to him)

        As she is now trying to bankrupt me, compassion for her is hard to muster.
        I still love her and the husband in me wants to protect her….but I can not.
        That leaves me feeling like a failure to my family.

        As long as he is in the picture, I can not have anything to do with her. He twists every word I say to his own advantage and she buys into all of it right now.
        Fortunately, her family sees him for what he is. Although he is tolerated by them, he will never be accepted by them.

        and honestly….right now my gut feeling is that she will have to suffer big time in order to find herself and realize with compassion and empathy the pain she has caused.

  4. And i feel sorry for us both too. It is the saddest thing, That this woman I loved (still do) more than I thought possible has allowed herself to be so influenced. I tried compassion as this all began again…but every word of kindness was used against me.
    My daughter is lamenting the loss of her “mom” and wishing this imposter that took over her body would just go away.

    I hope you truly realize that we are not all mike’s or J’s. These people it seems walk through life unscathed…as they truly feel nothing for anyone. If they can not get the adoration they seek from one…they simply move to another and find a way to blame their “partner” for their leaving.

    I am so sorry you had to experience one of them.

    • and of course as my 5 yr old comes out with the inability to further compassion for her…I read this by the Dalai Lama.

      Dalai Lama
      ” Under certain circumstances, you may need to take steps to counteract someone else’s wrongdoing, but it’s better to do so without anger. That will be more effective, because when your mind is overwhelmed by a disturbing emotion like anger, the action you take may not be appropriate.”

      Damn universe of my ethics coming back to haunt me!! 🙂

  5. mysterycoach

    Morning 🙂 … I understand your entire post because I’ve been there. You have described this guy very well and there are those that are around and they are cunning manipulators and show no interest or care in the world for the havoc they wreak. Your therapist is correct in their assessment of such people.

    There is good news honey. You know the red flags to look for now (sad as this is and I’m sorry you went through this) and you can pay attention to your intuition/gut and see this guy for who he is. They are silver tongued devils, soothing, convincing creatures who truly do not care. If, you hold off on an emotional attachment, as you date… meaning try to curb the feeling of smitten euphoria (as fun as that phase is) to really see the person you are dealing with … you can avoid this guy.

    All men are not like this. There are plenty of men that I know who are not like this at all. The significance in having dealt with a guy like this is that “because” they are so good at lying, manipulating and crazy making thinking, you (women) become confused because they do indeed, and rightfully so, want to believe that this guy, is finally the one for them.

    The significance for you sweetheart is the pain he caused you, was so exquisite that it created doubt for you in yourself and your judgment. Your judgments were on cue, you saw it and there is no shame or whatever you may think, in wanting something or someone good in your life while THEY are the bad guy. You did the right things, for the wrong person. Try to have no regrets … because all men are not like this.

    Give yourself the time to siphon through all that you know now and you will, in the future regain your trust in yourself and your ability to see the red flags, despite the smitten phase, in a guy who is not sincere. It’s there… it’s always there with these types of men. I think what happens too is we can become so tired of not finding what we want we may tend to ignore the red flags in the hopes that we could be wrong. I just did this myself 🙂 Cept, this one was honest at minimum that he wasn’t ready and I knew it too. Hurt just the same cept he wasn’t a player, just deadly scared of love and opening up. Which is a damned shame.

    We love in the hopes we receive love too. I am a very huge fan of paying attention to how a person feels “to me” on my insides. When I am confused, the key thing, I think… is to know that if I’m confused it is not me, but them that is creating the confusion because I wasn’t confused before they showed up. You feel and sense these things from these men. Charming as they are…

    Interestingly enough, these men, require SO MUCH attention and validation they need to have many at a time, which also keeps them from getting attached to “one” person for all their needs because they always have someone else there to sooth them or to give them the emotional attention and love they need, but if they get it from a variety of sources, they never have to worry about getting attached to any one person. That’s sad all by itself to be that afraid. I have empathy for these men, but I wouldn’t want to keep one.

    A little food for thought this morning… you are going to be just fine! I understand how you feel. However it’s simply not true that all men are like this. They aren’t. I assure you of that.

  6. mysterycoach

    If you want proof that all men are not like this, pay attention to how you “feel” when a man posts responses on your blog. Listen to yourself… see how you feel, what your intuition tells you. You have walking breathing proof that not all men are like this. Look at SD and LFB’s posts.

    You see? You have the ability to see from the inside, your intuition is not damaged, just your faith in it. We, need to learn, as have I over and over 🙂 to listen to it, honor it and not shift doubt in someone else onto ourselves.

    This may be over kill however it’s something that I find we all can dismiss. Which is our greatest gift ever. Our intuition.

    • Been giving your words quite a bit of thought, MC. Thanks for sharing.

      • mysterycoach

        I hope you find them helpful as was my intention. I would be saddened if your expereince with this one person, who was awful to you, ruined your outlook on life and love. Take good care of yourself 🙂 In time, you’ll see, everything will be okay.

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  10. WildWext

    I was harmed by a Mike, too. He used to refer to himself in his clever emails/text messages as “the Mikes” – as in, “The Mikes are going to go take a run. See you at 6” or “The Mikes are crazy about you” as women’s business cards fell out of his work jacket. I still gasp as unwanted memories of him cross my mind while driving. He was a sadist and tried to get me into BSDM in unconventional ways that left me wounded and still uncomfortable with physically being touched. I was blinded by “how successful” he was (idiot). Best wishes for a better year every year of your life – both yours and mine.

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