Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Part One

 I was happy. I had been through several long periods of doubt about my relationship – three months or more of long sleepless nights and unsettling vague premonitions. And now those months were over. I was home finally after spending those months out of state. I was at peace. I got to take a trip up to Z, closing the many miles between me and the one I love. It was magic. It was a beautiful garden dressed in its Christmas best, glimmering in light and sparkling with water, and I was walking through all this magic with my hand in the warm hand of my sweetheart. Could anyone be happier?

This was a few weeks after a Thanksgiving weekend visit, and during that visit I would not have been surprised by a proposal. I was on edge that whole weekend, but the proposal didn’t happen. Before this weekend, he had told me that he’d have a surprise for me. Was it just the visit to these gardens or was it something more? Also, he said he had something to tell me that was unpleasant. I have a very active imagination, and I went through a mass of unpleasant possibilities, from some that could hardly even be called unpleasant (like a proposal followed by a really long time frame for an engagement), to others that were somewhat melodramatically awful. But as we moved to a cozy bench surrounded by the Christmas lights of encircling trees, the only thing I could think about was the possibility of a proposal.

He looked uncomfortable. He shifted his backpack and squirmed, and I suppressed an encouraging smile.

“You know I told you I had something unpleasant to tell you?”

Oh, not a proposal then. That would have been first. Drat. I nodded. 

He looked away. And back at me.

“I... I struggle with pornography.”

Is there a second before shock hits? I don’t remember what I felt. Nothing. Numbness. The image of that second’s space of time was burning into my mind. White Christmas lights making shadows on the stone wall, blue eyes that I love. Another second and I could feel the shock. It was closely followed by a disconcerting feeling that’s hard to describe. If you’ve ever walked up the stairs in the dark, and reached the top one step sooner than you expected, that’s comparable to this feeling. It didn’t cut through the numbness; it just infused it with a sense of bewildering loss.

There were quite a few silences. I couldn’t trust myself to say anything – I had to be able to think first. I was praying for the right words. I was taking in bits and pieces of what he was saying. About how much he hated it, and how he was working through it with some mentors. How it’s hard to understand how hard that temptation is for guys, about how he was doing his best to get rid of it. I remember blindly reaching out, putting my hand on his arm, saying something like “It’s okay” as if he were a little kid welling up with distress. And he said,

“No, it’s not okay.”

And I said, “I know, it’s not...” and I kept struggling to find words.

At this point we’d gotten up, and were walking back to the entrance. He was saying something else about me deciding what do about this relationship, and mostly looking and sounding completely forlorn and miserable. It didn’t matter what he was saying; I couldn't process it.

I was on the verge of an important discovery. It wasn’t just because I was sorry for him, and it wasn’t because I’d already given so much to him; I loved him. I prayed a second about it, just a quick and desperate “please!”
And I put my hand in his and said, “Whatever happens, I love you.”

We had already said I love you to one another, but this was completely different. Only as I said it did I realize how true it actually was. I had no idea what I was going to do – never see him again, call off the relationship… But whichever ways we ended up going, I was still going to love him. The words I’d been given to say actually surprised me by not being just another vague comforting phrase. 

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