“Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
I stand up from my desk to meet him. Before I turn around, I put on my fake smile, my friendly façade. Hand to hand we touch, a handshake, a formal introduction. Our eyes lock, and I am immediately unsettled…a violent reaction crashing through me, a hint of darkness and devastation.
I blink, unsure of what just happened. I want to snatch my hand away, furiously wipe his touch away, turn and run away. Dancing around the edges of my unexplainable fear is the awareness of professional etiquette, of maintaining my composure. I can’t run away, because this is my job.
We casually chat, the talk of strangers in a business world. He asks me to lunch to learn more about the company, to network. I want to say (scream) no but my boss is standing right there. I say yes, because this is my job.
I don’t know, then, that the Holy Spirit is frantically beating at the doors of my hardened heart at that exact moment. Warning me, trying to steer me away, before it is too late.
The next day, we walk to lunch. His gaze slides over me, up and down, settles. He glances back up and catches my eye, says “I like your shirt.” I blush furiously, mumble thank you, try to change the subject. I am all too aware of the meaning behind his comment. We keep walking, because this is my job.
We enter the restaurant and sit. I am nervous, won’t meet his eyes. I play with my napkin, play with my fork, barely eat. I answer his questions about company culture, people, and expectations. The lunch drags on, and he seems to grow aware of the awkwardness, my discomfort. He says something funny, the mood grows lighter. I start to wonder if it is just me, misinterpreting his actions, his words, his glance.
The weeks pass by, and we fall into an easy work relationship. He is funny, charming, charismatic, as we talk about work, family, God, church.
The mention of God, of church fills me with wonder and hope, and makes me dismiss my initial feeling about him. I have been lonely, empty, scared for so long. The devastating fallout of a childhood full of abuse and neglect and the crumbling pieces of my marriage have been crashing down for years. I follow the rules, I am a good girl, but I also define myself as a victim, see the world through the eyes of despair. So nothing seems to be changing. And I think that maybe, this thing called God, can help. And maybe, this man so full of God, can help.
One day, months later, we talk about my childhood, the effect it has had on my marriage, my relationship with my husband. He asks, “Are you together?” I look at him, at first confused, my naivety wrapping itself around me. Then I realize what he means, and that feeling from the first day we met rushes back in. Only this time, I ignore it, and I shake my head no, too embarrassed to say out loud how empty my marriage has become, how I have failed my husband emotionally, physically.
I needed a friend.
And in my desperate need, I made him my savior.
Not understanding, then, that a line had just been crossed. Not understanding that he, as a Christian, knew better then to ask those questions, knew exactly how he should proceed in the care of my unsaved soul, of my destroyed marriage. I am unaware that he is a sex addict, a predator…and that I am now his prey. So he didn’t do what he should because he had also been lonely, empty, scared for so long. Hurting and hiding and running from a God he knew intimately.
This pattern in our relationship goes on for months. The ebb and flow of casual friendship interspersed tragically with more moments like these. Inappropriate connections and conversations designed to keep me attached to him, dependent on him. Me willingly hanging on to and encouraging the slivers of attention and acceptance dangled in front of me, the small doses of hope meted out whenever he sent me Bible verses or talked about God.
By the time it finally happens we are both already lost. We have continually compromised, steadily given in to the monsters inside. We have gazed into the abyss of our hearts and justified our need, our selfish desire for far too long, flirting with disaster. All the while Satan has waited, crouching, laughing for the final surrender.
That first kiss…so violent, so needy, so demanding. I close my eyes and lay back, breathless with the dark release, trembling with the pounding of the demons flinging themselves into an orgy of victory in my soul.
In this moment, I am no longer following the rules, being a good girl, being a victim.
I willingly become a whore.
I shatter then, resigning myself to the pull of my dark need as each stolen moment passes and days full of agony and shame drift by. I know I am drowning in a foul pit of destruction, know I am bending and swaying to Satan’s siren call.
And the most devastating knowledge of all, the foretold rottenness ingrained in the very nature of my humanity uncovered, raw, exposed…
I don’t care.