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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The One Who Holds, and the One Who is Held

The slump that began Sunday night got worse. Yesterday was a long and numbing day. I felt like I was being crushed, like the very air was pressing against my chest and against my soul. I found myself lying in bed and simply staring at the wall a couple of times. I felt awful, like my spirit was sick.

I went to the gym, but that didn't help. Later, my boyfriend asked what was up and I told him that I the past two days had been difficult. He was frustrated. He said it seemed like something always had to be wrong with me, and that he was frustrated that I still hadn't learned how to deal with such slumps. I told him it seemed that way to me as well, but it really was more like the same thing was still wrong. It just kept flaring up from time to time.

Later, he was at my place using my internet. I was lying on the bed, completely at a loss as to how to break free from the misery I felt. After a while my boyfriend got up, laid in bed next to me, and pulled me close to him. I have to say, he's getting pretty good. He knows that when I'm like that, what I need most is to be held.

I turned to look at him and said "Sometimes you need to remove the poison from the wound before you can stitch it up and start rehabilitating the leg."

He nodded, then said "But it seems more like you keep pouring more poison onto the wound."

"No," I said. "It's more like the poison keeps spreading, because it is never fully removed."

Then he understood. This problem with my parents has never been resolved, and because of that the pain and longing flares up from time to time. This was just a very extreme case.

But now that we were talking, I could get it out of my system. I talked about how lonely I felt, about how the walls I had put up to protect myself were now separating me from everyone else, and it was beginning to suffocate me. I told him how much I needed to feel part of a family again, how much I needed to be able to trust my family with my heart, but how difficult such a thing was.

I wept. Okay, more like I bawled. But the tears were cleansing tears. They were healing the hurt. He listened, and held me close. And when everything was finally done I could breathe again. I could feel again. I could smile again.

The experience reminded me of something my boyfriend and I talked about when we first started dating a year and a half ago. He was my first date with a guy, and my first boyfriend, and moving out into this world was very scary for me. Early on there was a night when it all was too much and I broke down. He put my head in his lap and stroked my hair, assuring me that it would all be alright. Then he said "See, this is the wonderful thing about our kind of relationship. Sometimes we can be the one who holds, and sometimes we can be the one who is held."

That has stuck with me ever since then. Now, perhaps I just don't understand the way straight relationships work, but it seems to me that there is a cultural expectation that men cannot be the one who is held. They have to be strong, and always be the protector. But with a relationship like mine, I can be the protector, but I can also be the protected. And there are few things a comforting as the strong and loving arms of my boyfriend when I'm feeling weak.

It is a beautiful thing. And it's in moments like last night that I know that what I feel for him is not evil. It reminds me of a beautiful verse, with which I'd like to end.

Love is patient and kind, it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited, it is never rude or selfish, it does not take offence, nor is it resentful. Love takes no pleasure in others’ sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.


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