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Why I don't leave

When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale. A curious sensation of terror came over me. I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself.

-- from The Picture of Dorian Gray

Rereading it, I knew I'd highlighted this section because it made me think of my husband during our affair days. I've always been so ardent about him, and even at the beginning, I recognized this power that he had to consume me, even when our relationship was a dalliance.But I'm not sure that we ever were just dallying. From the first moment we touched, it was clear that what we were doing was different.

That night was strange. My then-boyfriend and G. had found a wallet at the bar where they worked, and they had gone on a shopping spree with the found credit card. My boyfriend was going out of town to visit his father, but there was a party at their house that night (my boyfriend and G. were roommates). I planned to go, though my boyfriend was out of town. I wore new boots that my boyfriend had bought me with the credit card, and I was high on ecstasy.

The X was intense, so I spent most of the night in my boyfriend's room. G. stayed there with me, rubbing my feet with his hands, then softly with a knife. The X was throbbing. It felt good to be touched, talked to. It was warm and interesting and safe.

Later, when everyone was gone, we sat on the couch together, and he kissed me. It was like some wild beast had been unleashed -- I made him leave with me and go back to my house.

I am alarmed to remember that he didn't do drugs back then, that I was the crazy one. I admired his sobriety. It made him different from the other guys I knew, and from myself. I was a mess, and he seemed so together, so poised.

Once it started, he was all I thought about. Our connection was intense, instantaneous. We'd talk to each other while we were making love in this way I can never quite explain, like we could talk while our mouths were full of each other.

I fell deeply in love. It was physical, and it was more. I respected him. He was religious, and he would talk about it openly in front of his friends -- hipster pseudo-intellectuals who mocked the idea of religion and party boys who thought it was weird for anyone to care about anything. He could draw and paint, and he was interested in my writing. He was sensitive and admired my intellect. His eyes were intensely blue behind the darkest, longest eyelashes. I believe he's the handsomest man I've ever seen. If I were designing a man, I'd design him.

Nothing compares to the way his skin feels against mine, the way my lips feel against his eyelids, the way our bodies fit together. And there is nothing like the smell of him, like the smell of his armpit or his neck or his arms; his smell is raw and clear and sharp. My favorite aroma. If the way he smelled was a flower, I'd pick them into extinction.

This is why I don't leave. I love this man madly. In all the years since that first night, I have been devoted. When we weren't together, I'd mourn for the feeling that only he could give me, a feeling of being consumed, of connection, of recognition and profound love. It has shaped the person that I am, and I've been kneeling at the altar of this love for the better part of a decade. I'm as hooked on him as he's ever been on heroin.

I've hurt people. I've destroyed things. I've put my own needs last. I've changed my plans for my future. I've given up stuff that I shouldn't have, but it's what I want. I want him, even like this. As long as he is trying to be better, working on getting back to that good, solid man that I've seen him be, using his mistakes as lessons to grow, I'm going to stay.


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