Some people feel happiness is a choice. I don’t know. I do my best to be grateful for all the wonderful things in my life (99% of my life) but at times, the dark comes in to distract.
One year, I decided to go out of my way and decorate the desk of a colleague for his birthday. The next day he (I’ll call him Nicolas) excitedly posted pictures on social media and thanked a woman that didn’t even have access to the building. She (I’ll call her Jacinta) had once worked with us, but ended up getting fired the year before. Nicolas helped Jacinta pack her things and escorted her out and onto the sidewalk, thought it was HR that was supposed to do that. Once fired in the manner she was, she was also totally banned from the premises. Even knowing that she would not have been able to go into the building, he still thought it was Jacinta’s handwork.
She was clever, that Jacinta. She went in one night, saying she was the wife of another man in the office and decorated his office for his birthday. Jacinta was not married to this man, and mysteriously enough, his actual wife divorced him right after Jacinta was fired. Anyway, is why my dearest and most daft Nicolas thought it had been Jacinta who had decorated. I had to show him pictures of what I had done from my phone (and the time stamp of course!) for him to believe it was me and not her who had done it. Only after the whole Mexican soap opera-esque episode that went down did it really occur to me that maybe they had been sleeping together.
It was hurtful and humiliating because when I called Jacinta out for taking the credit (that Nicolas gave her first, granted), she came for me with claws out, saying I was jealous and in love with him and he would never love me back. She said it on Facebook for God and everyone to read.
Jacinta was right though. He would never love me, but he would never love her, either and I took great consolation in that.
I don’t think it would have been so horrible and hurtful if it hadn’t been true. I did love him. I loved him despite the fact that I shouldn’t, I loved him despite the fact he didn’t deserve it, I loved him though he treated me horribly, I loved him desperately and the more he used me, the more I loved him, the more I loved him, the sicker everything got. He had a strange and horrible hold on me and I did stupid and foolish things with and because of him. One day, things started making sense to me and I took to eluding him at every turn, giving him excuses when he tried to invite me to coffee or lunch or dinner or after work drinks. For the rest of the years we worked together I would take the day off of work on his birthday when it landed on a weekday, always dodging him for a few days after to avoid thinking of the unholy event that set off a landslide of shame I was buried alive under for so long.
Nicolas is a person who only loves himself and I know that now. He is addicted to happiness, or rather, the idea of happiness, one he feels that everyone in his life somehow has chipped away at. His interest in me in part stemmed from the fact that in some way, I was a free bird. In the same way I desired love from him that he would never give me, he desired the freedom I have and he will never live. He would kill to taste it, or so he thinks.
Cowards in gold cages rarely dare to do more than dream and talk about desires they are too scared to pursue.
Through many exchanges with him, I ended up discovering sad and decrepit parts of myself, parts of me I would rather lock away forever than ever visit again. To love someone so empty as Nicolas is to have abyss not stare into you, but try to consume you. This abyss is never happy, it is never full, it is never, ever, ever satisfied. When someone like that gets their hands on you, they use for as long as you are entertaining, beautiful, funny or serviceable to them. Once the purpose they had you for ceases to exist, they toss you aside. This is a gigantic and demanding child looking for the next great distraction. You were once a shiny thing and suddenly you aren’t, you’re faded and dulled, left for dead.
There was a moment when I realized this, and shortly after this epiphany, our paths simply split and I never saw him again. Of course the beast that is social networking keeps us up to date on each others news (I have done everything possible to limit my visibility to him, and I rarely if ever to go his profile) but I have long quit moving in the same circles we did, and I moved out of Mexico so I never have the off chance of running into him.
Recently we spoke on the phone. He tried to shame me for leaving Mexico. He said for as much as I preached being Mexican I still left to Gringolandia and other nonsense about how I am a traitor. I laughed at him. “I’m a firm believer in the word of our Lady Gaga- “I’m a free bitch, baby.” I’m young, single, smart, pretty, have big boobs and a double nationality. Who’s going to stop me, Nicolas? I do what I want, when I want, how I want. How about you?”
He chuckled, insisted he was only joking (I’m sure!) and cut the call short.
C’est la vie, chump.
I held a great deal of humiliation and sadness regarding this particular date for a long time. Though I have moved past feeling any emotion for him, the whole vile situation left a mark on me. Recently I realized-only after the fact-that I had spent his birthday celebrating the birthday of an incredible, strong and inspiring new friend and then had dinner and watched a goofy movie with old friends. I made new, beautiful strong, empowering memories upon the ruins of a day that used to remind me of only heartbreak.
That whole “you make your own happiness” stuff? Some days I believe it more than others.