It’s quite something when you come across symmetry where you least expect to find it.
Nearly twenty years passed between the comings and goings of the monster man present in my early childhood until the time that my gentle man first appeared. And nearly twenty years have passed from that day to this.
With the departure of the monster man and not coincidentally our father from our lives, childhood turned in turn into adolescence and then on into adulthood. Time moved on outwardly but something inside me remained trapped in the past.
To deal with the pain of that early trauma I tried many avenues. I tried faith and prayer. Faith is capricious though. Not unlike handfuls of sand the harder you grip the more it runs through your fingers. When you open your hands it’s gone, leaving only fine grains clinging on, the grit a reminder of those early aspirations to believe.
I tried smoking it out as if a colony of hornets had taken to nest building under the eves of my mind. The smoke billowed and blotted out the world, but it did not diminish the pain left in it’s wake. I tried pills and potions that had my mind whirling in every direction skewing my perceptions of reality and not. I tried submerging it under a lake of fire water to little effect beyond drowning myself in the process.
Building a virtual box of lead in my mind, I poured my memories into it, hoping that the radioactive waste would be sealed beneath the weight of this heavy mental metal. Then I built walls around it until wall building itself became a habit, a rite, crafting ever thicker layers to separate myself from the whirlwind within.
It was in this state that my gentle man found me. I can’t explain to you why it was that he persevered in the face of my determined resistance, but he did. Initially he lay siege in what might be described as the usual fashion, but to no avail. Quite some time passed but still he persisted.
Eventually he appealed for a truce and I walked out from behind the walls under the protection of a white flag. We talked long into the night and through the dawn of a new day. He whispered of the fears that lay in his heart and in turn I tried to explain some of the reasons for the walls I‘d built. I mentioned something of the dark taint that lay within. I can’t explain to you where I found the courage to do that.
This man of mine has the kindest eyes. They reflect something of the soul that lies within. With a wisdom I still find quite breath-taking he explained that whilst the monster man might have taken my innocence, he hadn’t taken me. The way he described his love for the person he saw in me was my undoing. And so it was that he became my gentle man.
In the real world there is no happily ever after. Even so we have built a life together. By making himself vulnerable to me, my gentle man shows a strength I’m not sure I will ever match. Fundamentally it is this willingness that underpins our relationship. Without it, I would always feel like the weaker one.
There are times when he is washed out into the sea of his own foreboding. Long periods when he is lost to me in all but name. Other times he shuts himself away behind his own walls. When this happens I carry a beacon onto the shore to light a path homewards. So far it has always worked in the end, although there have been times when I've despaired of his despair. In constancy I show my own kind of strength.
In a similar vein there have been periods when I too have retreated behind my old walls, falling prey to the need for self protection in uncertain times. I forget that real trust is built on an ever firmer foundation in times of trouble.
A while long ago I breached that trust in a way I never thought possible. I need not burden you with the whys and wherefores. Suffice to say that despite being crippled with self doubt on so many fronts I’d always believed that once I made a promise I would keep to it no matter what. It has been hard to learn to live with this failing. I would undo it if I could, but I will not disown my actions all the same. Contrition and sorrow have gradually eroded guilt. But still it remains.
Somehow over the years my gentle man and I have found ourselves taking up self destructive habits with an ever increasing frequency. For him this has largely been a matter of recreational relief from the stresses and strains of life. For me though, these habits are of a more compulsive and dangerous bent. They threaten to drive me back behind those walls of total isolation. I have much to lose and little to gain by such practices whatever their allure. In these last years in particular I have fallen under their spell more and more.
And so finally we have come full circle. In order to progress from here I must once again make myself vulnerable to my gentle man by telling him in a more forthright manner the sinister effect these habits have upon me. How they undermine my sense of myself. Ultimately this impacts us both, damages us both. I have already sought outside help, but now I must seek it within our relationship too. In this way trust is built. I know that.
You might think I show strength by such actions, but not really. You see despite the ups and downs of the last twenty years I have been learning to trust a small step at a time. How strange. It seems that I have found faith where I least expected to.
Floral oil painting with red blooms opening
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