Jennifer and I collapsed in the steam room after our workout. She called as I was heading out the door, her voice strain with the effort not to lose herself. I knew what was coming. We’ve been here many times before. I asked her to meet me at the gym and she did.
I’ve written several posts about Jennifer in the past. She is an extremely intelligent woman, who in most areas of her life was capable of making sensible, rational, common sense decisions. Yet for many years now she’s been involve with a married man who gave her an engagement ring promising marriage as soon as he divorced his wife.
Jen is still wearing the ring, and he is still married… three years later.
I have long stopped asking questions and giving advice. She stops by to talk, and I listen. She cries and I hand her napkins. I don’t try to understand anymore. She fascinates me; this ability to stay and believe and fight for someone else’s husband. I once ask her, “Jen, what is broken in you that you choose this life?”
“What is broken in you that you would never think of staying, not for a single moment and fight for a man you love, even if he is married?” she asked.
We stared at each other, me thinking about her twisted logic. “Self-love,” I said. “Reason and logic, pride and compassion for his wife and children who may love him too,”
“He doesn’t love her,”
“So he says,”
“I want him,” She said stomping as if wanting to plant herself into the ground to solidify her position.
“Then one day you shall find yourself beaten bloody and washed up on shore, with the realization that you have given your life to a man who places no value on it,” I said.
“And you will always stand alone, holding firm your standards that no man can live up to,” she said.
She intrigue and scares me for all that she is and that I am not. Family and friends have distanced from her. I won't. I don't agree nor do I condone her decision, but is it not her decision? Does that mean we cannot be friends?
The calming effect of the steam-room was immediate. I realized a long time ago, that the steam-room was a place where women came to cry. There is something about the white mist that made one feel safely lost, and where if only for a moment, we let go. I have shed a few tears in this unlikely haven.
The sound of her sniffling was not a surprise. We had not yet discussed why she called, but it was coming. We all have our way of exorcising our demons. Some people use drugs, alcohol, sex, work, food, pills…; I write my life story on a world-wide forum, yet safely hidden behind a computer screen. She talks to a woman who has learned to just listen without judgment.
Part of Jen’s problem in staying I believe, is that she was making an emotional decision to a problem that required logic and common sense. Emotions, especially those of the heart can blind and imprison us. Stand too close to a mirror and we cannot see clearly our face. Now that I am aware of this, my first instinct is to recognize and distinguish between the two and act accordingly. It is hard to act against ones heart, but there are times when it is necessary.
We are our problem. We are also our solution.
“She stopped by last night,” Jen said after a while.
“Who stopped by last night?” I asked.
“His wife,” she said with a touch of irritation. “She found the text messages that I’ve been sending John. She tracked me down. She’s really nice,” She paused as if the idea of her lover’s wife being nice is a difficult concept to grasp. “John told her that I am a desperate, crazy woman who have a crush on him and won’t stop harassing him,”
“Women know how to fake orgasm. Men know how to fake an entire relationship.” Sharon stone once said in an interview.
I wish that this love she wanted so badly could’ve worked out, that the man she chose to give her heart deserved it. “How can a married man ask for your life when his is promise to someone else?” I once ask her.
“Just because he's married doesn't mean that he's with the right woman. Do you think I'd be wasting my time if I didn't believe in our love, and he in us? Why would he give me a ring if he’s not going to leave her?” Jen responded.
I didn't answer. If she didn't know the answer, it's because she did not want to know.
I closed my eyes and escaped into the mist, and left her in hers. I opened the secret door to my memories where I visit Kenny. He held me to him and I was lost again in the love that once healed and protected me. I remained there as long as I could before the heat jolted me back to the present and forced me to close the door.
Once outside, I touched Jen’s hand and squeezed hoping that at least she felt better. I knew that she would get off the crazy train at some point. We all do. But at what cost? Who will she have become? What will she have learned about herself at the end of this journey?
Sometimes it's not easy to get back from the places we've been. Jennifer is not good at forgiving herself.