I can teach you how to love me.
If you take the time and truly want to know, I can teach you what each of my head tilts mean. I can teach you all the secrets of my body. I can teach you how to handle me when I’m moody, how to console me when I’m crying about my mother (versus my father), what to say when I act strange or distant around you.
If we get close enough for long enough, I can teach you about how to touch me where I am most sensitive, how to make my breath come quickly, how to rocket me into outer space with the slightest of movements and then do it all over again.
I can show you my wicked smile, the one that only comes out sometimes, the one I put on only when the root at the base of me and all the darkness in the world come prancing up my spine, when I have to let it wriggle and scream because without that it would consume me, as I become the immediate channel for something great and deep and wide and appalling.
I can teach you why and how it hurts when I don’t get attention, and I can do it without blaming you. I can teach you how I don’t ever need you to apologize, I just need you to listen. I can teach you how to come to me with criticism so that I don’t fall apart and collapse into myself, choking and retreating into a ball of aching grief.
I can teach you how while I have claws, I have choice about when I use them. I can teach you how to declaw me faster and better each time. I can teach you how to preempt my tantrums, how to make it safe for me to come out and play, how to bring forth my love like a shining beacon of depth and warmth and delight and freedom.
I can teach you what to do when I reach for you—or maybe you already know. Maybe there are things you already know about me, about how to be with me, just from the way I move or sit or stand or share or the way I light up or shut down.
Maybe you’ve been with others like me, other tender, expressive beings, other imperfect triumvirates of passion, pain and possibility.
We can celebrate where I am similar, and I can teach you where I’m different. I can teach you how to be with me without words, and I can teach you the magic words to say.
I can teach you these things, offer them up like so many pebbles, worn and smooth and pure, because I found them and ground them away down into their essence, made them soft by my own tears and trauma. I can bring them to you like a sacred offering, fetched from depths of my soul and my anguish, inspired and transpired by the innocence with which a child places total trust and responsibility in the hands of people who don’t and can’t know everything, or do everything right all the time.
I learned these things, in fact, to teach you.
When it was hard and I wanted to stop and I wanted it to stop and I wanted to make it stop, when I wanted to arrest the humiliation or destroy the awakening or hold onto the hate or shutter the screams or beat my fists across walls or cover my ears and board up my eyes and silence my mouth forever, I thought of you.
And I thought of children. Our children.
I did it for you, so that our path could be smoother, so that their path could be smoother. And so it will be, inevitably smoother paved by so many hard-earned pebbles, given by the rending refinement of my own coming undone, and redone.
The only thing I need from you, the only gift I need you to give to me, the only rendition and chorus I require, is for you to ask.
I need you to ask.
If you ask, I will tell you some things. If you ask further, I will tell you many things. And if you ask and you ask and you ask, and you keep asking and I know you’ll keep asking and there will never be a time when you don’t ask, I will tell you everything.
I will tell you where you fit into the pattern of my life, how I have been waiting for you and waiting for you and dying for you to come to me.
I am dying for you to come to me.
And when you do I can tell you, but I will never be able to say it to you strong enough or loud enough or enough enough, just how glad I am you’ve arrived.
There may never be a way to express that with words.
I’m doing the work so that we will work. So that I can make an extraordinary partner, a loyal partner, a partner undivided by the simple stresses of it all, with a bedrock foundation in something greater than all of this, with my own light and surrender and basic formation settled and accounted for and with which I am deeply, truly, and exquisitely at peace.
I have touched grace. I have been to God and back. And when I arrived and returned I came here upon this place and discovered that now—right now—God actually is you.
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Assistant Ed: Lori Lothian
Ed: Kate Bartolotta