The Tide

Are there fights we will never stop having? Is part of making a life with someone learning how to live with the rough edges that will never stop scratching at each other when they come in contact? Are there times when minimizing how often they do meet is the best we can do, when the underlying damage can never really be fixed? Are there traumas so ingrained in each of us that we cannot shift them enough to make room for each other, but must simply learn to live with them, rebuilding our house around a fallen tree instead of letting it smash us open, leaving us exposed to the elements, over and over again?  In the darkness of the living room as hurt and anger evaporate out of me, one condensed droplet at a time, I find myself wondering all of this. The feelings are familiar, like family who I used to be stuck with and don’t quite know how to shake even though I’ve finally recognized that they will never be better. Finally, they are gone from my body and I am left feeling spent and slightly hollow. I sneak back into the bedroom and find him sleeping, his back to my side of the bed. I slip into it as softly as I can, but his body must sense mine, because he rolls and slides his arm across my body, pressing his head to my shoulder. Now, on cue as always, that hollowness starts to fill with shame. It starts in my gut, moving outward with the speed of the rising tide. It consumes me and I press closer to him, hoping the touch of his skin on mine might somehow protect me, might allow the peace I know I can find in him to flow between us and force the flood to retreat. It works. Slowly, staggeringly, with much resistance from the gravitational force of that tide, the shame retreats and a cautious sense of stillness takes its place. Not quite the stillness of peace, but the stillness of possibility at least. The stillness of morning as the sun is just about to rise, which brings no promise of good or ill for the day, but is at least not foreshadowing any particular disaster.

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