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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

The Refining Fire

December 13, 2021 Email to Jeff

I wrote this a year ago today. I still feel the same. I don't feel the same level of bewilderment and pain, I'm a year further past it all, but my words still reflect what I know to be true.

I so do wish I could let go of trying to figure out why I did what I did. I am fucking obsessed - not with you - that's not it. I'm obsessed with ruminating about the why behind my behavior, and then yours. But primarily mine. Because I'll for certain never know the why behind yours.

So, this just hit me, because every time I revisit the hell of that choice, I come up with something a bit new.

Getting involved with you was like running into an inferno, knowing the pain would be excruciating and the fire might kill me, but feeling compelled to save the person inside.

At first, I thought it was you I was saving. But it wasn't. It was me. I risked my life to save my life. It was a huge gamble I took. Because I came near death many times, then and since then and I've not for certain overcome death yet.

We all act in our own best self-interest. Survival. Survive. We are willing to risk death to save our own lives. We don't see it until we're through the inferno and well on past, as our burns begin to heal. Then a whole new kind of excruciating pain sets in.

That inferno did save me. That makes you the accelerant. Your role was to speed everything up. Instead of a slow burn that would take years more, the white hot burned away all the lies I'd been clinging to and set me on a new path.

That is the crux of it; why I'm so grateful for you and your fucked up self that stayed in that fire with me. You stoked it, I stoked it, but it’s clear it was what we both needed at that time. To suffer horribly, to bring that upon ourselves, and then to come out the other side with at least an inkling of how to chart a new and better course for our lives.

I do love you very much. It’s a love borne of gratefulness.


“I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.”

-Alex Elle


December 13, 2020 Journal Entry

What possible benefit did Jeff get from hearing me confess my love to him multiple times a day when he knew I was crazy and didn’t know what I was feeling let alone what I was saying? How deprived of love and attention do you have to be to believe someone like me is capable of loving anyone like I professed to loving him?

I cannot believe how fucked up the situation was. I know how fucked up I was. But I cannot believe how fucked up Jeff was. If I was Jeff, I would have run after the first encounter. I wasn’t that good in bed. I was no woman of mystery. I was a mess and he knew full well. He deliberately put himself in that situation and stayed in it for over a year. And would have stayed indefinitely if I hadn’t had my breakdown and fucking messaged his wife. (A very awful thing I did.)

No matter how many times I reassured him, he knew I was unstable. He knew the risk was monumental. I didn’t believe I was capable of doing what I did, I had no intention of doing what I did, but I did it. Did he want to get caught? Did he want me to be the catalyst to end his marriage? Well, that didn’t work out so well for him. From what I can gather, they’re still married. (And I’m glad.)

When I’m not completely irritated with him for what he did, I feel really sorry for him. I got to walk away with just a broken heart. Broken hearts heal. I got off easy. He broke trust with the people that mean the most to him, with whom healthy relationship might never be restored.

He so massively fucked up his life it blows my mind. I am mentally ill. I had a reason. What in the fuck was his reason? Selfishness? Pain? Fear? Escape? I wish I knew; I wish I understood. Probably Jeff doesn’t even know. I’m not sure how self-aware he was, how introspective. I know he was intelligent.

Too bad smarts don’t keep us from making ridiculously self-sabotaging decisions.

"We all act in our own best interests. We are all constantly roaming about, waiting to devour what we believe will satisfy our hunger. It's base desire, most often at its ugliest. It's instinct. It's human. It's real. It's unchanging."

-Coco Densmore



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