Chameleon and Me:
Chameleon and I met again in 2002. I was 20 years old now and she was 27. This was at the Bible Study again.
This time, she seemed interested in me. We ended up reading each other's poetry at her house in Perkasie and praying together there.
I told her about my abusive upbringing. She seemed to listen intently and to care. I brought up the subject of dating. She seemed hesitant. She said, “Guys always need to mark their territory, don't they?”
She was saying that, if we dated, I might need to share her with other men. However, I didn't understand this at the time.
Chameleon eventually accepted the idea of dating me. It might have been because, like Ray, I didn't question her sincerity despite signs of possible issues.
We went on dates and did everything a normal couple would do except for physical intimacy. We didn't even kiss. The local Church culture, or at least some Churches and schools, discouraged that.
At the time, a recent book named “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” (1997) was popular in the area. FCA even used it for a while as a textbook. The book discouraged kissing and even one-on-one dating itself. The author, Joshua Harris, proposed group dates and a return to the idea of “courtship” as alternatives.
Joshua Harris eventually repudiated his book because, he said, people were turning his ideas into something repressive and “legalistic” that he hadn't intended. Subsequently, he left Christianity as well.
With or without intimacy, it was overwhelming to feel that I was accepted by Chameleon and receiving attention from her. And we did have things in common. We both liked poetry, old movies, acting, and Polaroid cameras.
People said that we should get married. She seemed to agree with them. She and I talked about it. Once, she said she wanted to get engaged on top of the Empire State building. It seemed like a clear statement of intent.
So, I took her to New York City. The Empire State Building wasn't accessible. I took her to Times Square instead and proposed there.
She said, “Are you kidding?”
Chameleon berated me during the drive back for not living in reality, though I cited, crying, all the times we'd talked about getting married. It was a *long* drive.
She said that we “weren't ready”, that I'd be too reliant on her, and that I needed to focus on finishing college. She implied that the idea of marriage was so unrealistic as to be offensive and that I was behaving like a cad by trying to push her into it.
It wasn't the best day of my life.
To be clear, the best day of my life was the day that I married the woman, Shay, who I was meant to be with. But there's a reason to talk about Chameleon as there is about each person, positive or negative, who's part of your story.
Chameleon wanted me to meet with somebody who'd help me to understand that she was right. It turned out oddly. She chose a pastor, the father in a family that she'd stayed with but that had kicked her out.
The pastor was Tim Vander Stel. He told me that I wasn't being ignoble to propose marriage. But the marriage was inadvisable, he added, because Chameleon was basically a prostitute. We talked to him together first. Then she wanted me to talk to him alone. After that, she wanted me to go into counseling.
That was the end of the relationship.
I think that the business with Mr. Vander Stel was manipulation. Chameleon must have known that he was going to warn me away from her.
Later on, I learned she was finding reasons not to come to Church. Instead, she was going to bars and sleeping around again.
Chameleon called me drunk, late at night, not long after the breakup.
I was about 21. I went over to her place that night and we had our first kiss. The next day, she apologized. She said that the episode meant nothing.
So, breakups happen. But it got strange later. I got back together with her. More than once.
Roughly 4 years passed. Then Chameleon phoned me to talk and to ask for favors. This was circa 2007. So, now I was about 25 and she was 32.
She had a lover now. Chris. Chris was a couple of years older than Chameleon and financially successful but, she said, he was abusive.
During this period, Chameleon was pregnant with her first child. I didn't know this at the time. Chris was the father.
Chameleon and I met a few times. I went with her, for example, to record her recitation of beat poetry in a small Philly club. And, after a few months, I helped her with a move to Quakertown.
Chris showed up to help with the move. We didn't talk much, but my impression was that he seemed intimidating and Chameleon's story about abuse might be true. I had no way to know, though, for sure.
Chameleon gave birth to her first child, a boy, and became pregnant with a second one.
I told her that, if Chris was abusive, she needed to stay away from him. She responded that she and Chris had “been through a lot together”. Then she married him.
The marriage took place around the time that she became pregnant with the second child. The couple separated about 8 months later, shortly before the second child's birth.
Chris didn't believe that the second child, a girl, was his. I don't know if that was a factor in the separation or not.
Chameleon's story was that Chris would become more physically abusive toward the end of each pregnancy.
Chameleon moved to Michigan to live with her mother. Her mother felt that she wasn't pulling her weight, the two children being one issue, and asked her to leave.
She moved in with a wealthy couple from her Mother's church. They too eventually kicked her out.
She was able to support herself. However, jobs didn't seem to last longer than a year. She was vague about the reasons for leaving them.
In April 2008, Chameleon asked me to drive her and her children to an airport. I was now age 26 and Chameleon was 33.
She had a flight the next day and planned to stay overnight at an “AirBNB”. It was late when we got there, so I stayed overnight with her.
I slept on a fold-out couch. The children were in a different room. Chameleon was to be in her own bed but came to the couch.
She got the kids to bed. We started drinking alcohol and talking. This might have been my first alcohol.
Chameleon said, “You can touch me any way you want.” The way she talked and looked at me persuaded me everything was going to be okay somehow. We remained clothed, though. I slept with her after that with both of us just in underwear, but there was no further exploration.
If there was a way out after this, I didn't see it. Or I didn't want to see it.
I was only able to see what was in front of me. An exciting life that I'd dreamed of for years. I set aside qualms.
If somebody makes you an offer that you can't refuse, you're in a position of weakness. They know this. It isn't a friend or a lover. It's somebody who intends to own you as they'd own a plastic toy.
If you deal with somebody or something that, deep down, you or part of you wants, don't be overconfident.
I'd learned to manage anxiety. I'd found some inner peace. I thought that inner peace had made me invulnerable to manipulation. I was mistaken.
There is a balance between being accepting of “the universe” or others and knowing when there is a threat to your safety or spiritual well-being.
If you trust others blindly, whether or not you're in balance spiritually, it's not likely to go well.
It's a warning sign if somebody talks about how people who don't simply trust him or her are willfully blind to the marvels that they offer.
If you meet somebody like this, run away. Run away fast.
Chameleon told me that she was an amazing and trustworthy person and that Christians who didn't acknowledge this were unforgiving of appearances and unworthy of the Grace of Christ.
I noticed primarily that she was confident, assertive, and sexually attractive. I accepted these factors in lieu of integrity or depth. Regardless of your age or gender, don't make the same mistake.
Chameleon commented, that night, that perhaps she should have married me instead of Chris. I was enthusiastic upon hearing this. I told her, “That's what I've been saying”.
I'd made a foolish vow years before. I'd promised myself that if I ever had the opportunity to get back together with Chameleon, I would. And now the pieces were falling into place.
We talked about getting back together. A few weeks later, I flew to where Chameleon was now living, Wixom, MI, and moved in with her.
The relationship wasn't physical at first. I slept on the couch.
Chameleon told me that a divorce was in progress, but Chris was holding it up.
I thought it was positive to live there so that I could help to raise the two children. I saw this as a moral imperative which superseded the fact that Chameleon was still married.
Plus, eventually, she'd be free of Chris and then we'd be able to marry, ourselves. It seemed like a reasonable plan.
We were affectionate, but it came across as a pose on Chameleon's part or even an inconvenience. She didn't want affection, but she did want domination and sex. This was distressing to me. My distress made her angry.
I agreed to experiment with domination but resisted sex. Looking back, yes, it was an odd relationship at this stage. But this was just a prelude to an association that was further out.
Circa May 2008, Chameleon and I attended a real-life meeting for a discussion group named Ann Arbor: The Next Generation of Kinksters or A2TNG for short.
Chameleon and I talked about the meeting in advance. We seemed to be in agreement on “Kinkster” issues. In particular, we agreed that there was nothing wrong with “kinky” activities even though sometimes Baptists frowned upon them or even upon discussing such things.
I didn't have a problem with the idea of “kinky”. I'd noticed, as part of this, that missionaries were typically kinky and open about sex.
In fact, the most secure, confident, and spiritual Christians I'd met had proven to be the most kinky. They had no problems, for example, with giving kinky gifts to newlyweds.
Missionaries, in short, were far from limited to the Missionary Position.
In a discussion about this subject with Chameleon, I noted that, as a Bible verse explained, “Anything done in the marriage bed is undefiled”.
In the A2TNG meeting, though, Chameleon told people that sex of any type between any two people was fine.
I wasn't fine with this. I'd agreed to the notion that kinky activity in the marriage bed was fine, but Chameleon was all about about “anything goes”.
In the A2TNG meeting, for example, there was a married woman who slept around and her husband was O.K. with this. The term that the couple used for this was “polyamory”. It sounded fine to Chameleon.
Chameleon used the phrase I'd given her in the discussion: “Anything done in the marriage bed is undefiled”.
My feeling was, excuse me, but for it to be a marriage bed, the couple needs to be married or at least exclusively committed.
I was about relationships. Chameleon was about sex any way that it was possible. Right-side up, upside down, married or strangers, do it with a clown.
This woman wouldn't simply have done it with a dog. She'd have been delighted to get to know a corn dog and then to put it to nutritional use. Woof!
The idea of restraint was foreign to my S.O. unless you were talking about handcuffs. Honestly, we weren't compatible.
On a serious note, adults understand that X-rated fantasies are fantasies and roleplay. They have a place in private life but Chameleon wanted adult films to be real. It isn't like that in real life.
There is a time and a place for such things. The thing that matters in real life is commitment.
Look for a mate whose views you share. If he or she suggests that you'll never do better because there's something the matter with you, leave right then and there.
Legitimate criticism is one thing. Manipulation is another. If somebody manipulates you to get you to go to the store for them, do it with a smile. If it's to control you because you're just a tool to them, it's time to move on.
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free
Send a Christmas card or whatever at the end of the year. But, if you're kind, thoughtful, and reflective, you *will* do better.
No fascinating S.O. – sex-obsessed or not – is worth the belief that there's something the matter with you and that it isn't possible.
Circa July 2008, Chameleon said, “I don't know how much longer I can wait”. She was referring to sex.
Chameleon added that she was going to see a BDSM dominator that she'd found on Craigslist.
She said that I wasn't dominating enough. Sure, that was great.
I told Chameleon that I'd go with to the BDSM whipper or whatever he was. She seemed surprised that I was willing to do this. I felt as though I had to. This, among many other times, would have been a good time to end the relationship. However, I went with a woman that I viewed as a fiance to a BDSM session.
If BDSM is your thing, O.K. But it needs to be about commitment and compatibility.
The dominator was a foot doctor. He and I did BDSM things together to Chameleon. Chameleon saw him alone after that. I'm pretty sure that they had sex, but I didn't witness it.
Chameleon and I went home and we had sex ourselves, for the first time, the same night. I proposed to her as well using the same ring that I'd brought the first time.
Chameleon was amazed that I'd kept the ring. She said yes, she'd marry me. Just as soon as Chris's obstinate delays to a divorce from him were dealt with.
There were no such delays, of course, but I wanted to believe the story. So, I did.
In lieu of a marriage license or other record, we made a commitment document ourselves. It seemed real enough at the time.
Chameleon and I had sex regularly from the BDSM night on.
I discovered, though, that there were steps required for the divorce that she wasn't taking. I should have seen this as a red flag.
Chameleon eventually revealed that Chris was close to marrying a woman who was a social worker. I think she was afraid that Chris being married would put her (Chameleon) at a disadvantage when it came time for a custody battle. She was apparently delaying her divorce from Chris for this specific reason.
Chris was going to try for custody of both children. He didn't believe that the 2nd child was his. But, Chameleon said, he wanted both of them just to hurt her.
By mid-2008, I was in a situation that definitely wasn't “Leave It to Beaver”, though a hungry beaver does enter the story at a later point.
In July 2008, I moved out of Chameleon's place in MI and into a room in the same complex. This was due partly to moral advice offered by a couple that we knew, Pastor Jeff and his wife Peg of Ridgewood Community Church.
The move was to be just until we were genuinely married. We continued to have sex, regardless.
At this point, Chamelon told me, “The sex is fine, but I can't handle this relationship stuff. Don't be unreasonable and expect too much.”
I agreed to stop voicing concerns that my emotional needs weren't being met or that the relationship wasn't going well.
I had mixed feelings about the agreement. We were still at least in a physical relationship. I didn't understand yet that it wasn't going to go anywhere.
It might seem foolish, but it never occurred to me, or I didn't want to believe, that an S.O. could be so cold and calculating as to keep me around mostly for sexual and financial purposes and that they'd have no interest in building a meaningful relationship.
Chameleon sometimes begged me to stay. I'm not sure what to make of this. But Dembrosky begged me as well. There are lessons to be learned here.
Just because somebody needs you doesn't mean that it's a healthy and productive situation. If a relationship isn't mutually supportive, don't feel that you're supposed to stay or you're being remiss.
Life is short. Look for situations where things are going to grow and be real.
In the year 2008, at age 26, I was an independent IT contractor. I was living in MI but had clients in PA. So, I'd drive to PA, work part of the week there, and then drive back to MI. Once I took Greyhound, with 5 layovers, which saved a significant amount of money there and back and was less stressful despite transfers in early AM and following hours.
In the Fall of 2008, I returned to MI after a business trip. I visited Chameleon's room and used her computer to check my Gmail.
I happened to see Chameleon's Gmail account in the process and noticed that she was using an account named “sugrnspice” or similar confection wording.
Chameleon was using that account to send email seeking “NSA” sex. “NSA” means “No Strings Attached” in this context.
I talked to my roommate about what I'd seen. He said that Chameleon often hung out with different men when I wasn't around. She'd told people that I was a believer in polyamory.
I'm not a believer in polyamory.
So, Chameleon had:
(1) berated me for proposing marriage at age 20
(2) lied about seeking a divorce from her husband Chris
(3) apparently cheated even on Chris
(4) berated me for not being BDSM enough
(5) sought “NSA” sex online during our pretend marriage
(6) gone ahead and had “NSA” sex with other men
(7) told our neighbors that I was fine with this
(8) engaged in prostitution with “sugar daddies”
I'm a patient man. There are, however, tipping points.
The Old Coder says that he's rarely met anybody so patient but that the list of issues got to be too long. In mid-2008, I agreed, and that was my 2nd breakup with Chameleon.
It gets better. I went back to her just months later.