During the initial phone call, I had a small prickling suspicion that C. was lying. But I quickly dismissed that thought, thinking who could lie about such a thing. Turns out that this type of situation is not infrequent. People's motivations are varied: attention, money, gifts, maybe a thrill that comes with pulling off such an elaborate lie.
I am not sure what motivated C., although if I had to guess it would be mainly the attention-seeking with a dash of the thrilling elaborate lie. Throughout our relationship, she'd sometimes say things that did not ring true to me, but I dismissed that as part of her dramatic personality, and felt sure that she had a core of goodness and sensitivity. Of course, now I know that's what she wanted me to think and I have to wonder, "Did she involve me in the hoax because she thinks I'm weak or overly soft-hearted?"
In addition to the overwhelming anger and disgust I felt once I'd discovered what she'd done, I also questioned myself quite a bit. Why didn't I trust my gut? What about me made me an appealing target for C.? Am I a bad judge of character?
C. is not a bad judge of character: She knew me well enough to play on my sense of duty and my desire to be a kind person, so when I'd have to hang up on a conversation to go do something else, she'd often say something like, "You're always so busy..." She knew I'd drive out to visit her, to listen to maudlin poetry, and to give her what I thought was a final hug. She knew I'd always respond to her messages. She knew I'd be struggling to be strong for her. She knew I'd have trouble letting go.
I destroyed the good-bye letter she wrote me, but sometimes I imagine that she re-reads the good-bye letter I wrote her and laughs at me.
To be continued...