I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
The pitch in her voice began to escalate. The words were coming faster and faster in frantic disjointed sentences. The small talk was out of the way and she was a on tear. I asked what it was that he did that made her upset and she couldn’t stop. The words blurred into a frustration of panicked fragmented information in a way only 911 operators could interpret. But through the intensity, I could decode the message. One I have heard countless times. The words and the inflections change from year to year, person to person – but they all scream the same grievances…
They are desperate to feel loved.
From forgetting their birthday to the inability to commit to verbal and emotional abuse – I know the look in their eyes all too well. It is a familiarity I have seen from almost every woman I have befriended. It is a look I have seen from almost every woman I have ever dated. And it is a look that forces me to reevaluate how I express my love.
Few things will teach a man how to become a better man than sitting down with a scorned woman and listening to the resentment. So many men simply turn off. Shut down and only hear the accusations. But if you can put your ego on hold for just a few minutes, there is value to the grief and heartbreak.
The only way any of us get better is through a want to try. To make an effort. And the only way that can happen is if we shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down and listen to the words from people we say we genuinely care about.
The list of wrongs came out of her mouth at a rapid pace and I was doing my best to let her speak uninterrupted while I made talking notes in my head.
“Okay, don’t forget to address why is distant.”
“Remind her that she is strong no matter what he tells her.”
“Tearing the muscles only makes you stronger.”
I wanted to hug her. She was a good woman and I wanted nothing more than to hug her pain away. I would like to think it is because I was born with a good soul but truth is, I feel like I have pushed enough wrong into this world that I owe some kind of penance. That I have a tab so high that all the good deeds couldn’t take away the pain that I have inflicted upon good women.
But that doesn’t stop me from trying. And so many of us think we don’t deserve happiness. Or that we are entitled to happiness. Or that we don’t have to work toward happiness. Truth is, I don’t know what the right answer is, all I know is that we owe the world. You and I, all of us have a debit to be paid. And the only way to make our mark – to leave the world a little better is to simply try. But not in that bullshit way where we tell people that we are trying “really hard” but really we just lie in bed with one eye open staring at memes and binge watching tv shows and making excuses for our shitty and lazy behavior. I mean, somewhere between there doing nice things to make the people we care about smile. Without expectation. Without reciprocation. To just simply try to make someone’s light a little brighter.
So when our partners are complaining – listen. Hear what is behind the anger or spite or jealousy. Find out where it comes from and do your best to understand. And while their delivery may be questionable, ask yourself if they are the person you want to try for. Because that is the key to a healthy love – a mutual desire to see happiness in each other and to be the person who makes their light shine a little brighter.
And if you have ever been fortunate to hear the words “I love you” – well, then you owe a debt.