I would take them a few times, feel my emotions and sense of reality fuzz, and look at my mother who had been doped up on them since we moved to Chattanooga. I would see her blank, hazel eyes, and her bright, but empty, smile with chronic, artificial, exaggerated cheer, and become scared. I often wondered if she was buried under layers upon layers of southern sugar. I would make bitchy, inappropriate statements and look for her. I would say something, anything to shake her and look into her eyes for something real. I saw it when she was upset or afraid. I saw it when she’d spot me exiting my bathroom, hair tied back, knowing what I’d done. I saw it when she found out I was raped. I saw it when I told her about the drugs I used. I saw flickers of a real person, but she quickly disappeared within herself once she gathered composure. I decided not to be like her. Even if it meant embracing my demons, I wanted to be real. After a couple doses, I would toss the meds in the garbage.
Number 23 had plenty of redeeming qualities that made falling for him a justifiable accident. But our connection had nothing to do with our similarities, our differences, our aesthetic attractions, or our emotional and physical needs. When we spoke, he was truly with me. Our egos, our personas, expected social cues, the facades that everyone builds around them that are supposed to sculpt the way the world sees us, were stripped with Number 23 and I. He was immediately my best friend, familiar and safe - an epiphany that I had been spending my life alone in crowded rooms. Our souls were naked. We initially curled into the warmth of that connection. But once we knew how real it was, we felt exposed, vulnerable, and raw. While his defense was his fearful recoil, mine was dictation.
I fell in love with a sniper - a man whose basic training instills psychopathic tendencies. I loved a professional dehumanizer. I loved a man who lived in a world where empathy was suicide. I loved a man who had to be ready to put a bullet through a toddler’s skull if necessary. I loved a man highly skilled in burying his emotions, resurrecting them if and when he chose. I loved a man who saw me as his enemy. I loved a man I was disposable to.
Suddenly, the brave warriors parading to combat with bugles and bayonets were replaced by the push of a button.
While men had the right to obey their biological urges, women had to suppress theirs until the perfect moment. From television, movies, books, magazines, my peers, and even some of my relatives, I was taught that if a woman allowed a man to penetrate her too soon, she was too easy of a conquest for him. He would move on to pursue greater challenges after he was finished using her body to relieve his sexual urges. If the woman waited too long to let the man enter her body, she was a prude and the man would eventually give up on her. Women needed to time this process perfectly so that she could “keep” a man in her life at all times.It was the man’s goal to catch the woman and the woman’s goal to keep the man.