Jocelyn comes to me; she isn’t crying but her bottom lip is quivering. Her hands are shaking and all I can do is wrap my arms around her. As soon as I have her in my grasp the tears come pouring out. The tighter I hold her the more she sobs. And after a few minutes, she says, “Why does this keep happening to me?”
The truth is that we live in a random world where random shit happens to random people. And this randomness can be overwhelming. But that isn’t what she wants to hear. And it is certainly isn’t what she needs to hear. So, I say nothing. I just hold her tighter.
When she catches her breath, she tells me all about the guy she’s been talking to for the last year. I know a little about him, but I haven’t pried. They’ve talked at all hours of the night. They sent naughty pictures to one another throughout the day. They’ve met at both his place and Jocelyn’s. They’ve fucked. He’s tied her up. He left bruises on her body she spent days admiring every time she took a shower. She crawled across the room just to be closer to him. She gazed up at him from her knees. It just didn’t make sense to her that he’d be married. How could it have felt that real if he had been lying to her? When his wife called, she thought it was a joke. “You fucking whore! You think it’s OK to open up your nasty cunt for married men. You think he cares about you? He doesn’t. You aren’t even the first woman I’ve had to call. You aren’t the last. You’re number five. That’s all you are, bitch. You’re a number.”
Jocelyn was already blocked on KiK. All of his social media accounts had been deleted. She tried to call but it went right to voicemail. And then she was sitting alone in a completely silent room. Her dog rested his head on her lap trying to figure out what was wrong. Jocelyn cried, staring at a dark TV screen. Each one of his lies felt like a knife between her ribs. It felt like she was a piece of garbage crumpled up and tossed on a sidewalk for passersby to stampede over. “I can’t believe I let him in. I really gave myself to him, and of course, this is what I get. This is what I always get.”
She shoved me off her. She hit my arm. She hit it again. “I mean what the fuck? He was fucking married. It all makes sense, now. That time he said he wanted me. He wanted it to be raw. And I drove to his house but we met at a nearby grocery store. I got into his truck and straddled him. He unzipped his fly and we both came so quickly. It felt rushed and so intense. It felt like we were two lovers who needed to be together despite the world trying to keep us apart. I didn’t think anything of it because I fucked him in his bed a week earlier.” Jocelyn groaned. “I think I’m going to throw up.”
I wrapped my arms around her and she cried into my neck. I felt her tears falling onto me. “It’s not your fault,” is all I whispered.
“There’s just no point. This is how it always works out. I open myself up to get hurt. I get hurt. And then I lay here wounded and dying. It’s this fucking cycle. No matter how careful I am this is how it always ends. Never again.”
And this brings me to why I’m writing this. I didn’t tell her then. I didn’t want to give her advice when all she wanted was a friend to hold her close. But it’s been a while and maybe she will find this and read it. “Never again,” she said. All of that is bullshit. You can’t see it when you’re wallowing in the pain, but the fact that you’re hurting is actually amazing. It’s beautiful. Imagine if you felt nothing.
Hurting just means you’re brave. It isn’t easy making yourself vulnerable. It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s dancing along the edge of a skyscraper with a blindfold on. And you’re going to fall. You’re going to fall more than once. And every part of you is going to be laid bare on the pavement for all the world to see.
I wish I could say that you’ll put yourself together but you won’t. That isn’t really how it works. Time passes. The hurt and rage that is suffocating you will still be there but in the background. And then, you’ll carry that extra weight up all the flights of stairs so you can once again dance blindfolded on the roof. You don’t realize it but that is all any of us are doing, even your lover and all his other lovers, his wife, you, me, all of us. The fall changes a person. Sometimes the change is for the worse and the only way we can cope is to lie and hurt as many people as we can. Sometimes it is the fall you needed before you never fall again.
The one thing I know for sure is life would be joyless if it wasn’t for the falls. You wouldn’t be special if it wasn’t for your scars. Yes, he’s a dirtbag. You should burn the t-shirt and boxes that he left at your place. You should delete every picture you ever took for him. When he comes crawling back, you should spit in his face. But, if your solution is to never risk getting hurt again then you should know, you’re only trading one pain for another. The hurt you’re feeling and loneliness is the same. One you feel all at once and the other is a slow drip gradually ripping you apart. And you’d probably be the first to point out that I am a wise man dispensing wisdom that I am unable to follow. And you’d be right. But it helps me to say it as much as it helps you to hear it.
This wasn’t your fault. That probably comes as little comfort. I know what it’s like to walk through life thinking you’re to blame for EVERYTHING. I hope this writing helps. It is all I can do. I hope it isn’t long before I see you again. I want to take my blindfold off for a moment and look out across the expanse. I want to see a beautiful girl carelessly spinning around with her arms reaching to the sky. I want to see her dancing along the edge, fearless of the fall.