So there was this summer. And this person I once knew.
He meant something because he was the first person I had sex with without being in a relationship. To me, this action was freeing and modern, contradictory to the behavior I’d practiced in the past, and it marked a new chapter in my life. We’ll call him Tim.
Tim wasn’t….boyfriend material. Of any sort. Not relationship-worthy. Or even friendship-worthy, it turned out. He was just a good actor. A frightened, sad someone living in a small town; admittedly well-educated, funny and adorable. But he’d been through hell and hadn’t handled it appropriately. Whomever unceremoniously pops into your consciousness when Maroon 5’s “One More Night” comes on, that was this guy.
But for some reason, I hung on to the hope that Tim could break free from this; that I could help him to break free, because everyone’s been through various stages of hell.
Your character is based upon how you handle the hell in question. And his troubles were akin to the obstacles that anyone who has just graduated from college has to overcome. Displaced, unable to find a job in his field and dealing with a whole lot of loss, Tim is still in that town, trying to figure it out.
In retrospect, I imagine that I wasn’t the only person who thought they could be of help. But then, I also had no clue he was the town harlot at the time.
To my credit, I’d been out of country.
When I realized that I couldn’t help Tim, I moved on, though not without a few humiliating falterings. (Think texting in the third-person from your best friend’s iPhone just legibly enough to create an atrocious scandal after downing more Fireball than a respectable bar should stock.) But I eventually saw him for who he was – less of an intelligent, wonderful person and more of a lost soul whose actions were dictated by insecurity.
And I was crushed. Because I believed in him.
The truth is, I would have believed in him whether we’d become intimate or not – I respected him for many reasons. Unfortunately, that respect was never mutual. And who knows – maybe he’s the type that if we hadn’t been intimate, he’d have been more receptive to my help.
I’m still shocked by how crushed I was then. Because now, I don’t feel a thing.
With one simmering exception.
I feel embarrassed that I put so much of myself into him in the first place, compromising my own dignity at times in the hope that this injured person would deign to let me help him. I thought of this man more as a cause than a relationship.
If you haven’t had a Tim thus far, you’ve either had great luck or incredible foresight. But chances are that one will waltz, slide or twerk into your life before long.
And I hope that you will remember, in some way, this anecdote, and that the first sentiment that will occur to you is a resounding and succinct:
“Nope.” There are far better causes in the world. This is not one of them.