January 28, 2010

He grew up with an alcoholic father who delighted in tormenting him. He was once forced to sit all day staring at the switch with which his father intended to beat him with when he arrived home from work. His mother couldn’t save herself, much less her son. He grew up believing himself worthless. He began building his walls as a child.

He stood before the judge with a woman who promised him the one thing he wanted more than anything in this world. A child of his own and the love of family. His marriage turned more quickly than mine, until all that was left was the evidence that she had used him as the means to an end. The family he so desperately wanted had slipped away from him, until he was left broke and broken, with walls reinforced and shorn up.

We met by chance, I only glanced back from my barstool but it was enough to catch his eye. For a night, we used each other to chase away the loneliness. In the light of day, we started talking.  That talk led to others, until I began to see the heart of this man. A heart that had survived pain and torment, I will never fully understand. A heart I catch a glimpse of during our late night talks, when we lie satiated in each other’s arms. When carefully worded questions sidestep the guard he keeps held high, until he is answering questions no one but me ever cares enough to ask.

For the last year, timing and circumstance have kept us apart but not able to walk away. Until fate, snow and Christmas stepped in to give us the time we needed. For a week we loved and laughed as if we had been together for years, neither of us talking about what happened when the bubble burst.

The bell toll of the New Year came and went and the silence nearly broke my heart. He pushed, each time expecting the next time he called I wouldn’t answer. Each time, after the anger faded I could see clearly, the fear and the walls that he used to guard his heart. Until slowly, he began to let me in.

Then last week, he finally said the words out loud. His fear finally put into words.

“If we stay together, are you going to change?”

His heart, that’s guarded by those walls. Behind the brick and morter, behind the thorns and brush. It’s beautiful. And one day I hope to call it mine.


One comment

  1. This is gorgeous. I’m so glad you’re working at this relationship, being patient, and being there for him. I love you!

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