After my two week fiasco with “like” I’ve started looking for love elsewhere. I may have found it.
I contacted some old friends, thought about contacting some others and avoided some altogether. I’m better off because of it. When I get lonely, I start reaching out. Alone in my head is a terrible place for me to be. What’s better is my being of service. I’ve been some. This past week I’ve held the hand of a friend who’s mother nearly died, talked truth with a friend who’s thinking of cutting ties with his older brother/friend of over thirty years and, just a few minutes ago, reached out to a friend who isn’t much of a friend at all. What she is is exquisite. She’s shockingly and even disgustingly beautiful (see Ashleigh Banfield, my one blond weakness) and incredibly broken (read “hurt, not sick”).
If you remember, I love brokenness. It’s where I belong and it’s where I feel most comfortable. Stretching out and smelling the musty corners and crevices of the cracks in other’s hearts and hurts is a good place for me to be because it’s where I can help. It’s where I can be of service and it’s where I can find fixes for my flaws. It reminds me of the quote “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” This is my truth. I’m restored and strengthened when I’m allowed to help others find healing.
This friend I sought out, I seek out regularly. Regularly she ignores me. If I were quicker and smarter and slightly less perceptive (despite my Asperger’s, sometimes I can see the smallest of hints while most times I can’t notice the biggest of un-embraces), I would have walked a long time ago, but regardless of how distant she is, I get the sense she doesn’t want to be, that she doesn’t want me to leave and would love to walk past her fears and open up and let me see inside.
It’s her outsides she normally shows. She’s comfortable showing others her outsides probably because others approve. She’s far less interested in unfolding her insides because of what others might think and might say. She shocks them with her many tattoos and shuns them with her many layers of lipstick. I like to look as much as any man (or woman), but I want to see more. I want to see her tears. So far, she hasn’t shown me any.
This past week, traveling to the Great Wall for a hiking/camping trip (how cool is that?) in Beijing, I was having a discussion with the woman sitting next to me. We talked about what interests us. For her, it was Psychology, for me it was brokenness. Obviously, “Killer” came up (I’m not done grieving my loss)*. I explained frailty, vulnerability and brokenness are traits I find irresistible provided I’m permitted to discover them myself. [I’m not a huge fun of people I don’t know showering me with their problems. To me, that’s less like brokenness and more about manipulation and self obsession. Trust me, I’ve done exactly that, I’ve held unsuspecting, uninterested folk hostage with my misfortune when they never asked to witness it.]
My seat mate balked. “What about people who aren’t broken?”she asked “don’t you like them?”
I assured her I had never met such a person. In my experience, humans, by their very nature, are broken. They are perfectly imperfect and that is what I love about them. She didn’t seem to understand and certainly didn’t agree. She mentioned her friends, most of whom she felt were not broken. I may need to meet them. Apparently, not everyone values what I value. I wonder whether my seat mate would value my friend…perhaps she would for reasons other than my own.
Tonight I laid it out on the table. I’ve been sticking around longer than I would have. I’ve learned the hard and slow and painful way I often need to walk away when my needs aren’t being met. This applies to friendships, relationships and interactions in general. With her, my need was to be acknowledged. She, in her silence, was not meeting it. Before I walked, I explained where I was and what I was about to do. “I’m beginning to find I’m compromising my own integrity by coming back to someone who doesn’t treat me the way I want to be treated . I can’t do this anymore.” The other need I explained in not so many words was my need to see inside. “I need to see your imperfections and the hurts I know you have.” She has many. She sits and stirs and fidgets and jitters. I’ve never seen her still for longer than a second. In this way, she reminds me of me, where constant motion brings whiffs of relief. I am in need of constant entertainment. If you’ve seen me with my phone, you know what I mean. I get anxious without it. She gets anxious with and without others.
“I know I don’t give you the attention you deserve” she responded “and I wouldn’t like it if you left. I’ve been busy and stressed with family issues.”
She’s a woman of few words, in fact, far fewer than I’d like, I’m a man of many. “I can understand that. I know what it means to be overwhelmed and I’m not looking to solve your problems. I’m looking to listen to them. I’d like to think that I make people’s lives easier rather than more difficult. Some friends call me just to talk when they’re having a hard time. The difference is they are including me in their lives not excluding me. And I fear if your idea is to wait until your hectic schedule changes or your life is drama free, that will never happen. The only way to have time for me is to make time for me. I like what I know about you as a person and I like your many facets, from your insecurity to your darkness. It’s part of what makes you sparkle in my eye. What I don’t like is that I’m only a footnote in your poetic book of life. I’d prefer to be an appendix if not a page.”
There was a long pause.
“I don’t like inflicting my personal problems on other people, I guess. They say it’s good to talk…I’m not always sold on that theory” she explained.
I made two observations, after this much time in the dark, both of them pointed: “You think thousands of years of conventional and spiritual wisdom are wrong? Is that why you fidget and jitter? And how’s your way of keeping your problems to yourself working for you so far? You’re happy to show people your outsides, that’s where you know you have it all together but God forbid someone sees your insides. You think they’ll judge you or run.”
Instead of firing back and misting me with missiles, she smiled.
I continued: “Let me ask you, does it look like I like perfection? And does it look like I’m running? Keep Your perfection for someone else. Bring me your brokenness and let me serve you.”
There was silence and then there was this…
“Kisses. I need to let you in more, don’t I?”
With that answer, it looks like I’ll be sticking around at least a while longer. Love does that to me…
And lest you think I’m jumping from one person to another, I’m not talking about the love of a woman. I’m talking about the beauty of brokenness. It’s the love I find and there’s so much of it for me to see.