Pain: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it
Posted October 1
I wonder what the pain threshold for most human beings is. And I am not talking about the physical pain—I am talking about the emotional pain. It is when we can feel nothing? Is it when we’re just numb? Do we know we’ve reached that peak of pain when we are still functioning human beings but our insides are merely hollow? Is it when everything is just ruled by the brains and not the heart because we’re so incapable of feeling anything anymore? Is it when we just cry out, wanting the emotional pain to manifest physically and would just be a headache, a chest pain, a stomach pain, anything that’s curable by drinking medicine?
Some humans are just amazing. There are some who are so resilient that they can accept just whatever bad ass pain fate throws at them. How they cope when everything just seems so bad. How they manage to see the bright side in things that had just brought catastrophe in their lives. How they bounce back—even after wallowing in the misery for so long—after that grief, that anguish, and hope that they become better persons. How they, as humans capable of loving just as they are capable of getting hurt, have the ability to still love unconditionally no matter how broken, how empty, and how sad they were feeling.
Grey’s Anatomy, one of the series that Joseph and I had enjoyed to watch, has probably one of the best things to say about pain:
Pain, it comes in all forms. The small twinge, a bit of soreness, the random pain, the normal pains that we live with everyday. Then there’s the kind of pain you can’t ignore. A level of pain so great that it blocks out everything else; makes the rest of your world fade away until all we can think about is how much we hurt. How we manage our pain is up to us. We anaesthetize, ride it out, embrace it, ignore it… and for some of us, the best way to manage pain is to just push through it.
I know that I had promised in my last blog entry to not hurt anyone. If possible, only one person needs to get hurt after all of this: ME.
Apparently every time I hurt myself, the people who love me tend to get hurt too, and I didn’t put that into account.
But that doesn’t change anything.
Joseph: play your best in all your games. I’d be here, watching each and every single one of them even though I am halfway around the world. You still have me. I am still your biggest fan.
Kiefer: take care of Joshua, okay? Tell the kid I’m sending over stuff once I’m settled.
Jeff: Take care of Kiefer. And Joseph. They both need it.
P.S. And yes, Joseph watches Grey’s Anatomy. You have to be amazed that he had given up one of his movie nights with his basketball teammates to do a marathon with me. There’s a chick side in every guy, you know?
Listening to: Cut by Plumb
“How come when you get hurt it’s not okay, but when I do, it’s just fine?”
Carlie looked at Joseph who was helping her load her things into his car. She thought for a moment he wouldn’t come to pick her up as he had promised eons ago, but he surprised her when he actually appeared at her doorstep almost four hours before her flight. Carlie sighed.
“Look, if we’re going to have this conversation for the entire trip to the airport, I’d just take a cab,” she said, and Joseph just tugged her luggage away from her hands and shook his head. “And it’s never fine if either of us gets hurt. I didn’t want you to get hurt, Joseph. But this is my choice,” Carlie said, and Joseph let her luggage down on the ground with a thump. That might have caused the bag its wheels. Carlie had forgotten to cuss inwardly for she was focusing on Joseph’s pained face.
“I am so tired of always—always letting you go. Why does it always have to be me?” he argued, and Carlie winced. “Tell me—just humor me, Joseph—if I choose you, how would my life be? How would our life be? We’re both Chuas by law. We have the same father listed in our birth certificates. Everyone in the planet knows we’re siblings—”
“Carlie, why is that a big deal? We can find your real father and then have your name changed. And I don’t really care what other people say. If you really care about me—if you really love me and want us to be together—you’d look past what other people say and just suck it in. Choose me, Carlie. Choose me,” Joseph pleaded, and Carlie just stared at him.
A big part of her wanted to just stay, but she needs to think things through. Yes, she loves Joseph more than anyone in the world—okay, Kiefer is probably a shade under Joseph and could probably give him competition—but there’s still Bryce. Bryce who can give her a less complicated life than what she has now and what she will have if she chooses Joseph. Bryce who can give her a life that is miles away from the life that she has now.
Bryce who can give her a new life, a fresh start.
“I can’t,” she said, her voice caught in her throat. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
Joseph hit his car in frustration, and Carlie jumped back. He walked over to her and gave her the roughest kiss she ever had, his lips punishing, crushing, violent. When he released her, a tear fell from Carlie’s eye, her lips were swollen from where he had bit her, her face flushed from the tightness of his grip on her face, but she knows she deserves whatever Joseph has done. Rage still filled Joseph’s eyes, but Carlie just shook her head.
“I’m taking a cab. Go home,” she said, resolve in her voice. Joseph shook his head. “No. I’m already here. I’ll send you off and let you go one last time. I’m done with you, Carlie. I’ve pleaded, begged, been aggressive, but nothing. Go ahead. Choose Bryce. Choose another life to live. When you get hurt and come back, I won’t be here waiting for you,” Joseph said coldly. He turned and took the last of Carlie’s luggage and placed it in the car, and then headed for the driver seat.
Carlie sighed, torn between her choices. She took a deep breath, wiped the lone tear that escaped her eyes and walked over to the passenger seat. Once secure in her seat by the seatbelt, she looked at Joseph and touched his face.
“I’m sorry for hurting you over and over. You’re that one choice I know I’d regret in the future, but you could be just better off with someone else—someone who’s not as broken as I am, someone who sees your real value and won’t take you for granted like I do. I loved you before as a lover, I loved you as a brother, and I still love you more now, more than ever. But I’m sorry. And I hope you can think that you’re not the only one letting go all the time, Joseph. Coz I have let you go a bunch of times too,” she whispered. He looked at her, his face hard but his eyes filled with pain, and then Carlie leaned in, kissing him for what could be the last time.
Kiefer, Joshua, Jeff, Cynthia, Joseph and Lara were all there at the airport to send Carlie off even if she told them that she didn’t need any sending off. Goodbyes are painful, even if the goodbye was just temporary. Goodbyes tell you a person has to leave—whether by choice or by force. No matter what they say—that you should be happy that a person had said goodbye to you or you should be angry because you weren’t even worth a goodbye—a goodbye is still a goodbye. A farewell. An ending that is necessary to have a new beginning. Whether it is a clean break or a hazy one, a person has left, and the other—or others—are left to pick up the pieces on their own.
“Take care there, alright?” Jeff whispered as he hugged Carlie. Carlie nodded, whispering to Jeff’s ear, “You look out for Kiefer, for me, please? Make sure he doesn’t do anything rash. Or stupid. Or both. And make sure he gets a move on.” Jeff released Carlie, a naughty smile on his face. “You ready to see him dating?” he asked, his voice low.
Carlie threw her head back and laughed, and then nodded. “He deserves to be happy,” she said, and Jeff cocked his head to Joseph, who was at the corner, apparently doing some people watching. Jeff’s eyes asked the question, and Carlie just shook her head, turning to Cynthia. “Keep an eye out for Joseph, please?” Carlie whispered, and Cynthia nodded, not asking questions as to why Carlie was asking her to watch Joseph, instead of asking Lara or Kiefer. They hugged and Carlie looked at Lara.
“Lara,” she said, and Lara gave her a bear hug. “You. I hate you for always getting the guys that I fantasize,” Lara said, and Carlie laughed. “Please don’t tell me you’ve dreamed of a naked Bryce,” she teased, and Lara winked at her. “That and more,” Lara said, and Carlie laughed.
Joshua ran to Carlie and hugged her around the waist. “Send me toys, will you, Carlie?” the little kid asked, and Carlie nodded. Kiefer was shaking his head as he ruffled his child’s hair. “Don’t spoil him too much, Carls,” he said, and Carlie shrugged. “You take of him, alright?” she said, and then she knelt to the level of Joshua. “And you, little boy, take care of your father for me, alright? Make sure he’s staying a good guy,” Carlie said, and the boy gave her a salute.
Carlie gave Kiefer a tight hug and then a kiss on the cheek. She took a deep breath before turning to Joseph, who looked away at the precise moment her eyes landed on him. She walked over to him and held both his hands.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, and Joseph closed his eyes.
“I just don’t get it why here you are, breaking my heart for the nth time, and all I can think of was how much I loved you all these years and how I know I will still love you tomorrow and the days after that,” Joseph whispered, his voice raspy.
Carlie could feel her tears coming out but she didn’t want to cry—not in front of Kiefer who has probably figured out how she feels about her former brother, of Jeff, Cynthia and Joshua who do not know anything about the situation between her and Joseph, and in front of Lara, whom she knows still holds feelings for Joseph.
The longing, the pain, the hardship of her leaving him and not choosing him were all in the way she said his name.
“I won’t ask you anymore what your choice is. I just want you to know you can still turn away. You still have another option,” Joseph whispered, opening his eyes and looking at Carlie. The words You still have me were left unsaid. His face was expressionless, his eyes devoid of emotions.
“I love you,” Carlie said softly, a small smile on her face.
“Not helping,” Joseph retorted, rolling his eyes. He showed her a ghost of a smile—a forced smile—as she let out a small laugh, tiptoeing and kissing Joseph on the forehead. He held her in his arms, hugging her around her waist, their breathing in unison, for a moment longer than two minutes, as if they were the only people in the airport at that time.
“Carlie…” he breathed, and then he released her, slightly pushing her away. She stepped back, giving him the space, and he nodded to Kiefer and the rest of the lot, leaving them. He didn’t look back, and Carlie just let her tears fall, watching Joseph walk away from her for what seemed like the nth time. Kiefer went over to her and hugged her. “Hold it together, honey,” he whispered, and she took three deep breaths before composing herself.
“Be happy, Kief,” she whispered, and Kiefer winked at her. She took her bags and entered the departure area, her heart not ready to leave the love of her life behind, his face imprinted on her mind, their last moment together replaying in her head.
“There you are, love.”
Bryce’s open arms were the last thing that Carlie needs when she wants to break down, but she had no choice but to get in them. He had tucked her in them so neatly, with her fitting perfectly, as if they were molded for her.
“Carlie,” Bryce said happily. “You made it,” he whispered, almost with sheer relief, and Carlie nodded. She hugged him back but was just too tired to actually act as if she really wanted to see him. Wait, she was excited, if you ask her that before she found out that Joseph’s not her brother. But now, things are some sort of different.
Bryce cupped her face in his hands and for a moment she thought he would kiss her, right there and then in the middle of the airport. He didn’t though, and whatever hopes Carlie was feeling inside her just dissipated. Bryce merely gave her a smile and kissed her on the forehead, and then he took one of her suit cases. Carlie pulled the other, and they were starting to walk, her eyes travelling across the airport, letting her mind wander. She had spotted a pair of girls at one corner, their iPhones out, taking a picture of Bryce, and when she turned the other way, a group of paparazzi was there, their trusty black cameras stuck on their faces, clicking away.
Carlie involuntarily let out a sigh. This is the life she chose. Yes, she might have gotten away with the complications of getting into a relationship with her former brother, but she jumped into a ship that was Hollywood—paparazzi, fans, tabloids, co-stars, directors, writers. At this point, facing Joseph and the life that she wanted to have with him seemed like the more enticing option.
Bryce surprised her by lacing his fingers with hers. “You alright?” he asked her, and she shrugged. He traced her line of vision and shook his head. “Love, don’t mind them. One day you’d get used to them following us around,” Bryce told her, and she gave him a smile, a faint one at that. “Alright,” she said, and then they continued to walk, with Carlie thinking she was plunged into a dark hole, her hands in front of her, searching blindly for whatever light she can find.
“Your apartment, just across mine, will be ready by tomorrow. There was a delay with the previous tenant—am not so sure what else needed to be fixed, but you can stay here for the meantime.”
Carlie looked at Bryce and gave him a small smile. He pointed to the apartment—8C—pertaining to her place, while Bryce’s was 8J. “Thanks,” she said, and Bryce fished the key to the place, opening the door and leading her into an almost exact replica of his house in Baltimore. There were smaller versions of the bookshelves that he had in his own house, but this one, Carlie would bet, does not have a sound-proofed room for his music. When she stepped inside, she could see that the living room has Bryce’s musical instruments—his drums, his electric and acoustic guitars, his keyboard.
Carlie smiled inwardly.
“There are two rooms here. And since we’re all for being conservative and everything,” Bryce began to explain, a teasing smile on his face, “you’ll be staying at the guest room. I’ve fixed everything, so don’t worry.”
She walked over him and hugged him, the tears she was trying to hold back just falling from her eyes. Bryce hugged her back, feeling her need to be whole once more, just like when they first met. “It’s okay, Carlie. We’re going to start over. Everything will be new here. Everything will be alright, and I’ll be with you every step of the way. I love you, Carlie,” Bryce whispered, and Carlie just plainly couldn’t hold back the sob, letting it out. Bryce stroked her back, offering comfort other than in the hug, and kissed her on the forehead.
“I’ve cooked roast beef. I don’t know if you like that, but—”
Carlie sniffled, removed Bryce’s hug around her and held his face in her hands. “Thank you. For accepting me, no matter how broken I am.”
Bryce shook his head, giving her a light kiss on the lips. “Carlie,” was all he managed to say. Carlie took a deep breath and then smiled at him. “Roast beef sounds lovely. You’ve got mashed potatoes?” she said, and Bryce nodded.
“Yes, I do,” he said brightly. Carlie forced herself to cheer up, beaming a smile at him. “I’d get myself fixed,” she told him, and Bryce nodded. “I’d get your bags to the guest room and then fix dinner. You’d wanna lie in first?” he asked her, and Carlie shook her head.
“I’d fix myself, and then we’d eat the dinner you prepared, and we’d have this very lovely chat about the past months you and I haven’t been together,” she said, winking at him.
“I’d like that,” Bryce said. Carlie tiptoed and puckered her lips, and Bryce obliged, giving her a kiss. He held her for a long time before releasing her, all the longing in the past months they weren’t together in his kiss.
Carlie tossed and turned in her bed—as she did in the past couple of hours. The light-hearted dinner she had with Bryce—the roast beef was just lovely, the mashed potatoes and gravy so tasty that she had three helpings of it—and the conversation that came along with it were all she needed to feel better.
Or so she thought.
Bryce’s stories about his shooting for his movie, the many premiere nights worldwide that they are about to attend together for his movie, the parties he plan to take her to and the many celebrities he think she’d be delighted to meet plus the enthusiasm that Bryce had when he was telling all these was good to make her happy for the two hours that they had for dinner.
But those weren’t enough.
Joseph was still tugging at the back of her mind. The thought of him halfway around the world just… kills her. Yes, maybe it was like before—when she wanted to get away from Kiefer and when it was after Alcide’s death—but in many ways, it wasn’t the same. Joseph isn’t her brother. She loves him and he loves her.
Why didn’t I choose him again? she asked herself.
Another part of her answered, because of the guy in the other room and the life he could offer you.
She took a deep breath.
Let’s just chalk it to a bad case of homesickness. This will pass, she thought, and then stood up, heading to the other room.
At first Bryce thought the knocks on his door were just in his dreams. But when he heard the door open, he knew they weren’t, so he peeked through his right eye, keeping his left closed. Carlie entered the room, in her night gown, hugging a pillow. Her hair was disheveled, like she spent the most part of the night tossing and turning and not actually sleeping for the past three hours ever since they separated after that hearty dinner.
Bryce tried to sit up but Carlie was able to cross the length of space from the door to his bed in five quick strides, and she laid there beside him. He looked at her as she stared the ceiling, and then held open his arms, and she deposited himself into them.
Carlie didn’t know it, but she relaxed once she was in Bryce’s arms. She exhaled loudly, cuddled closer to Bryce, and closed her eyes, listening intently to Bryce’s heartbeat and breathing.
“I love you,” she whispered into the night. Bryce kissed her on the hair and sighed himself.
“I love you too,” he whispered back.
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform where you send and receive “messages” called tweets, ideally composed of 140 characters. Carlie has learned about this long before she came back to the States, frankly because Bryce’s agent made him go into doing Twitter because of his huge fan base. His agent reckons it is one way of getting close to his fans, to keep in touch with them even if it’s just 140 characters.
Bryce got Carlie into that. One way of communicating, he would say, so she got a Twitter account (she is @Carliecarls, while Bryce goes with simply @BryceCraig), placed it in a private mode, and got into the Twitter bandwagon. Bryce would do stuff like tweet her stuff like this: “Hey @Carliecarls, I am really missing you. Any chance you’d give me a flying kiss from all the way there?” or “Hey @Carliecarls, I am in love with you. And I love you. Hope to see you soon.”
And you could only imagine how many requests for viewing she gets just because Bryce sends her tweets like that. His fans are curious—even going through the lengths of adding Carlie up on Facebook but she would just ignore them, even virtually making herself unsearchable there just to escape Bryce’s fans’ criticism and invites.
Carlie still wasn’t awake when Bryce woke up. She was still leaning against his body, her face buried in his chest, and he just smiled when he realized this moment. He let out a soft, contented sigh, and then grabbed his iPhone, snapping a picture of the sleeping Carlie, her hair splayed across the left side of her face, exposing only an eye, her cheek, and part of her lips. And then he posted it on Twitter via TwitPic, with the caption, “My love is finally here. I can’t be any happier.”
“You know how many of your fans will diss me again after you posted that?”
Bryce nearly cringed when he heard Carlie speak. Her eyes were still closed, but she peeked through one eye to look at his expression, and then closed it again. She turned away but pulled Bryce’s arms tighter around her, proving that she wasn’t really mad at him for taking that picture and posting it. “Most of my fans love you,” Bryce defended, whispering into her ear. “And by most, you mean how many percent?” she asked, and Bryce tickled her ear with a small laugh.
“I am not the market researcher. You are, love.”
She twisted to face him. “And do you know what ‘most’ is to market researchers? That’s 80-89%. So out of your 600,000 followers, that’s about… 500,000 give or take? I believe that’s also the percentage of people who likes me to be gone from your life because they want you single, really, not the percentage of your fans who love me,” she said, and Bryce kissed her on the nose.
“You look so beautiful in the morning, especially when you’re insecure,” Bryce said, and she rolled her eyes. “So do you still feel your jetlag or can we go somewhere else today?” he asked her, and Carlie shrugged.
“I think I can go out—granted you assure me that no paparazzi will follow us around,” she said, and Bryce shook his head, pinching her nose playfully. “Love, you know I can’t do that. I can’t order them around. They’re doing their jobs,” he said.
“And their job is to pry into the private lives of you celebs,” Carlie mumbled, and Bryce allowed that.
“Look, the least I can do is not talk to them and entertain their questions. Other than that, love, I can’t… ask them to not follow us,” he explained, his voice soft.
“You sell,” Carlie said, looking away after sighing heavily.
“Paps love you because you sell,” she said. “And why does that make me feel a bit special? My boyfriend sells.”
Bryce laughed, pulling her closer to him. “And that, my love, just made me want to just stay in,” he whispered into her ear.
“Ah. What do you want to do?” Carlie asked in a whisper.
Bryce made her face him, a sly, sexy smile on his face, and showed Carlie what he plans to do.
Note from author:
FINALLY an update. I am so sorry for the very loooooong hiatus. I do hope, though, that the time between writing (and posting) this chapter and the next won’t take too long too. :) Thanks for hanging out, loves!