I’ve got a feeling this post will be a long one and I haven’t really written in ages. There are things I need to say. Things that I have been pondering the last few days and this post took a week to write.
You’re back. Aren’t you? I’m not sure what’s going on. Always, I’ve suspected that you’ve been lurking and watching. Talking to me through social networking under another guise. But you’ve announced your arrival and put me straight on another roller-coaster.
Some people in my life are aware of you but they maybe don’t know the full story. Embarrassment prevented me from sharing most of the details, so when I needed support by the end, others didn’t quite understand the depths of my distress.
But for those that don’t know who ‘Charlie’ is, I’ll treat you to a little background.
We all know I ended my first marriage. Took me 9 months in total to get my husband to leave the house, which as you can imagine, was tense and pretty horrific. Social networking came to the rescue and I was conversing with an array of folk, some of which I still talk to now. Relying on the comfort and distraction of strangers to get me through my separation.
Then Charlie came along. We spoke for ?..? 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 months? It was a cheesy ‘instant connection’ and went from being generic chat, to sexual to emotional to the point where I wanted to meet him.
He resisted for awhile, but we did meet, not in a conventional way either but we carried on meeting for about 7 or 8 months. A relationship of sorts began and we had weekly contact in person and nightly contact online. I always had doubts of his identity but Charlie was never one to be pinned down to answer questions and has some serious evasive skills. I accepted his excuses of being a single parent and not wanting a lover near his child as a reason for keeping me away from his home and family.
Without going into masses of detail as I could share many, many words about Charlie and the things we did, I shall try to sum him and my feelings up.
I was infatuated. Totally besotted. He was made for me, I thought. Perfection. Soul mates. A fragile little victim in his hands ready to be moulded and played with. He played with me in every way possible. Charlie is a sadist. He is ego centric, manipulative, intelligent and dominant. He feeds off emotion and would push me to my limits and far past them. Emotionally and sexually. Just when I’d feel broken and ready to crumble. He’d pick me up and and fizz me up until I was ready to explode with excitement and happiness.
I knew there was a shelf life and I couldn’t maintain the level of energy needed for Charlie for long. He knew it too. His game was over. I can’t remember who finished it. Maybe I became too tired. Maybe I became too predictable for him and the challenge was over? Maybe it was me who wanted to move on and mustered the strength from somewhere? I felt like a mouse. Toyed with by a cat out of boredom. A cat that enjoyed watching me fight and squirm and cry out in desperation. Maybe I played dead long enough to escape or maybe the fight leaving me made me no longer what Charlie needed. But it ended and he vanished.
It could have gone either way I suppose. I could have totally broken but I didn’t. I picked myself up and moved the fuck on quickly. Worked hard, played dirty. Made a mental list of things I wanted or needed to do. I may have been burnt by Charlie but luckily, I didn’t learn my lesson and very shortly after, I responded to a message via social networking sent by Mr Chopalops.
I loved Charlie.
I loved him a little bit more because he was a single father raising his disabled son alone.
I loved him a little bit more because he had become a parent at sixteen and the mother of his child couldn’t cope, was mentally ill, he said, so he set her free, had gotten a job and struggled along without help.
I loved him a bit more when he told me about his childhood, his abusive father and his mother that had died when he was young.
I loved him a bit more for many reasons. Reasons that I now find out were fictitious because Charlie is back and ready to answer questions. He has allowed me to look through his actual really real social networking profile and gather information about his true identity. His name was never Charlie. He was never a father of one. He has six children, four of which existed when I was seeing him. He has always had the same long term partner. Where did she get her energy from to maintain him for so long?
It knocked me sick. A random friends request from an unrecognisable name. His comedy profile photo amused me enough that I mentioned it to my husband. I then showed him a few days later before I was about to ‘ignore’ the request. Lying on the sofa, half asleep, head resting on my husband’s lap and my finger accidentally swishing along to the next photo. It was familiar. A man holding a newborn. We had no friends in common but I sort of recognised the other man standing alongside him too.
Who where these two men? Then it hit me. Breathlessness was instant. The dizziness came as I left the room and stood in the hallway out of Mr Chopalops’ sight. To feel so sick but giddy at the same time? Wow, I’d not felt that since… since Charlie. It was Charlie.
The man standing alongside him was the same man in the photo that had been sent to me when I’d started speaking to Charlie online. He used a fake picture, which now turns out to be of his brother. Oh of course, fucktardo that I am, I’d forgiven him when he confessed at the time.
Standing in the hallway alone, hiding my amazement from Mr Chopalops. The overwhelming realisation smacked me. Charlie was back.
Charlie was back and he was single. He was making contact. He was using the pet name that he called me, always refusing to use my actual name.
The tiniest part of me thought…should Mr Chopalops be worried? Should I tell Charlie to come and reclaim me right now?
Then I remembered. It’s the Charlie effect. His name isn’t really Charlie. Charlie isn’t even the fake name he gave to me. I named him. After a drug. Because that’s what he is to me. I’ve been clean for so long but do I have the willpower now? I went back into the living room and said to Mr Chopalops…
‘Remember that fake guy I was seeing before you?…well, you never guess who has just friends requested me.’
Why had he turned up? He wanted to reach out, apologise, say hello etc. Karma had got him good and his long term partner had left him a few months ago. Of course, if any of this is to be believed.
So he was reaching out because he was newly single, lonely and bored?
He mentions regret and guilt. Neither of which I understand. Guilty for cheating on his family or guilt for using and hurting me? Regret that he sacrificed time with me when he should have been with his partner or regret that he stopped seeing me?
My kind of person shouldn’t be with Charlie’s kind of person. You know the female sidekick to the horrific criminal and you always wonder why she went along with it? Was it fear that made her stand by her man, assist, support and defend him? Was it love? Sheer, powerful, manipulation and I can understand it completely. That was the hold Charlie had over me and I would have done anything. Frustrating to think the outcome of such influence being used positively!
I stand firm in thinking that he didn’t love me. He wasn’t attracted to me or had any intention of having a relationship with me. Did he care about me? I could strongly argue that he didn’t as he would regularly watch me tear myself apart with distress that he had caused. I was no more than a pawn, chosen only through opportunity. Oh I believe we had some brilliant times together. I was happy playing sidekick to my soulmate while he was happy toying with the guinea pig in his experimental games.
This all may seem a bit dramatic for the reader and I guess Charlie and I are the only two that will comprehend the massive big deal that he was to me at the time.
I know I’m making it all sound bad. It wasn’t. The highs were super high and I really did think I had stumbled across someone who was ‘made’ for me, if we could only just iron out some of the control kinks. He probably could have confessed that he wasn’t single and had children and I would have been swayed easily into playing mistress.
Did I want to finally know the truth? Would it hurt to know? It took me days to decide to email him with questions. Some of which, he answered vaguely. He couldn’t explain his reasons for contacting me now or justify what he wanted.
My guard is up and I’m focused. My eyes are beady and I could hear a pin drop. I know I have to protect myself. My nemesis? The evil genius that could bring me down. He’s arrived. He says there are no games, no ulterior motive. But surely if he cared, he would leave me be? He can see from my social networking profile that my surname has changed and I’m married. Although my profile is locked, my husband’s isn’t and I KNOW he will have been and had a good rummage on there. Information is power. He’ll know all about my new life, new baby, new marriage….but why is he here?
Does he want redemption or does he want to play a game?
I’m much different now to how I was back then. I’m more…self controlled. I had a journey after Charlie. A whole load of wonderful experiences that built me up to something different. Better.
Do I need revenge for the hurt he caused? I’m capable. I was the abused for over a year. The abused always becomes the abuser don’t they? I watched him in his glory, with all of his magic and all of his tricks. In fact no, he wasn’t a magician, he was a mentalist. A puppeteer that could sow thoughts and pluck emotions. He was the dominant one and I was his submissive. But I learnt things. I picked up his techniques. It was almost a challenge being laid. Could I turn the tables and play him? Make him vulnerable?
NO! I could never hurt him. Plus, I’m pretty sure he has been perfecting his skills for years. I’m sure I’m not the first and I’ll never be the last. Again, I’ll be out of my depth.
Should I be his friend? Be there for him in his time of need now his marriage/relationship has crumbled? In fairness, he did that for me. I wouldn’t have made it through that year without him and for that, I must give him credit. He did give me confidence. He made me feel that I was desirable and sexual and entertaining and clever. Yes, Charlie wasn’t all bad.
But as soon as I remember the good things, I immediately have to remind myself of the bad. The Charlie effect is like that. Seductive. The highs, drawing me back but the reality of it all isn’t pleasant. I’d forgotten what he looked like after not seeing him for a few years. I’d stop thinking of him altogether quite quickly as he was nothing more than a ghost. He could have even been a figment of my imagination. But now I can see his photograph and it’s reminding me of the good bits. Let’s focus on a bad bit….
Crying in my car after you screaming at me over the phone for asking to see you. How very fucking dare I turn up outside your work at hometime unannounced. I was a bunnyboiler, a stalker, controlling, psychotic and selfish. You ranted at me. I cried and drove back home where I miscarried your child.
Not that I knew I was even pregnant. How did I even get pregnant as I was using one of the most reliable methods of contraception? Oh that’s right, you’ve got six children, you’re MR FUCKING VIRILITY.
The bad bits definitely outweigh the good bits.
Charlie says that despite the fiction, when you get down to the bones of it all, he was more himself with me than he has ever been. Charlie says he is truly truly sorry for the things he did, that he will live with it forever. Charlie says, Charlie says, Charlie says. And Bells always listened intently and believed.
I say… when you take away the extra love I dished out for you due to the fictitious factors, what does it boil down to? When I see your VERY MUCH ALIVE mother commenting on Facebook photos of your SIX children? ….When the hurt cancels out the love, you’re left with nothing?
Oh I’m truly not angry *insert Ringo Starr voice saying peace and love, peace and love* but I realise how stupid I was. How stupid I feel now. Stupid, stupid little Bells.
I hold my hand up and place it over my heart and solemnly promise that you saved me. You kept me going at my lowest. I owe you something, somewhere along the line, I do.
When Mr Chopalops came along I felt prepared to be something with him. If there had been no Charlie, then I’d still be sat at home alone mourning the end of my marriage. Charlie sparked something. He gave me an edge. Made me feel like I could take on the world. But eventually, I outgrew you and could move on alone.
Okay, you did leave me with a few mental scars. I now need to see someone’s passport before I let them into my life and Mr Chopalops has had to steer me through a few insecurities and trust issues that you left grained on me. I’m having to learn that every argument isn’t caused as a diversion for him to leave or cancel plans and he has to reassure me that I won’t lose him or that he will just evaporate into thin air. When he reads this, he will understand why I have been clinging to him like velcro all week since your shock arrival on my computer screen.
I’m not angry with you Charlie and I never was. I thought I would be totally indifferent to you now but I’m not I guess. I admit. I’ve cried a bit this last week in secret. I’m not sure why I’m sad. Maybe because I feel so foolish for going along with it all back then, maybe the bad bits are flooding me, maybe I’m fearful of your plans for me now. Being part of a game that I have no control over but have everything to lose. The fact that you’ve named the children that you’ve had since last seeing me the same names as my children, itself, is little unnerving and a bit fat danger signal.
You asked me to keep our communication private. but you don’t have the right to ask.This isn’t revenge or about ‘outing’ you. I would NEVER hurt you and yours and will protect your identity. But this exercise, well, it’s therapy for me. I have nothing to hide. I never have had anything to hide. You’re dangerous. A danger to me and I need it out there for all to see. I can now ask for support and understanding from everyone while I eradicate you from my life again.
For Charlie, I have a new drug of preference. This one sedates me when I’m distressed… rather than adding more fuel and energy. Allows me to fizz about the room then calms me…. rather than fizzing me more until I burn out. This one lets me be whomever I want to be, sits back and accepts without giving me controlling limitations. This one doesn’t change me or get pleasure from my mental pain. This drug is waiting for me right now, to simply just be married to him. This one doesn’t try to turn me into ‘Bells,’ a character in a play. I’m not Bells. I was only ever Bells in your game.
We were never real. You were never real. As much as you like to think you were. I leave you Charlie, as a wisp of a haze in dream like state. It was what it was. It will never be what it could have been. It was probably more than it should have been. Different circumstances don’t matter. I gave you all but you didn’t want it. You were a huge fat learning curve that I needed. You’ve played a teeny part in my future by nurturing and torturing my past.
Reading this back, it all seems a little arrogant on my part. Like I somehow meant something to you. Like I meant to you what you meant to me. Like you’re here to win me back in some way because you’ve missed me the whole world. But it’s not, it just about a deflated ego. I said goodbye to you last night via email and you replied, explaining your feelings. It confirmed the reasons why I thought you were here. You are lonely and you are hurt. You’ve been dumped by the woman you love and came trotting back in the hope I would lick your wounds. It isn’t me you want. Anyone would do. You say the mother of your children has moved on too, with someone else. Your pride has been knocked. If I had welcomed you back with open arms, then it would have been a little ‘fuck you’ to her.
Regardless, I cannot trust you. I cannot trust me when it comes to you. The plan was to give you the spotlight for the entire post and not make this a compare and contrast between you and my husband. So for reasons I shall not justify, I choose him over any contact with you. I choose him, I choose the family we have and the life he has given me. Because it’s filled with the one thing that you could never provide…reality.
Goodbye Charlie. I wish super good things for you. A life that you can enjoy. A life that I play no part in.
Love (momentarily for one last time) Bells x