Heaven holds a sense of wonder….

{August 24, 2010}   Learning to love

“Do you know how much I love you?” I asked.

“I’m starting to. But you’re slow,” she replied.

Just call me Turtle. When things get scary, I hide in my shell. I move slowly through life, savoring the scenery, taking my time to get each step right. Sometimes, I’m so focused on taking the next step that I forget to pay attention and come dangerously close to becoming a turtle pancake in the middle of the interstate.

In two months, it’ll be a year and a half since the turtle and the pickle found one another. It’s been a long, arduous journey. And it seems like all the hard work, the head-beating-against-the-wall, is coming to mean something.

In the beginning, we had so much in common. It was what bonded us. I, 8 1/2 years younger than she, shared interests and experiences. I was born in the wrong decade. We’d while away the hours with nostalgia.

We still do, though its potency has weakened some. A few weeks ago, however, we saw a great riot grrl act that looked and sounded straight out of 1993. As I grinned wide and bopped along, Pickled whispered into my ear, “You do know this is one of the reasons why I love you, right?” That put a little extra spring in my bop.

Now, it’s not so much our similarities that hold us together, it’s recognizing our differences. It’s taken some time to even be able to see them. She does not see the world the way I do. There’s much to be said for the middle ground, and we share plenty, but we really are as different as they come.

I am by turns outspoken and reserved. It depends on my mood and the situation. When I see a conflict, I view it as, “What can I do to make the situation better?” regardless of any perceived fault. When cleaning, I’m detail-oriented to the neglect of the bigger, more readily apparent tasks, and will spend two hours scrubbing the same damn spot on the kitchen counter. I see a big mess, and I’m lost, I don’t know where to begin. I have to break jobs down into micro-components to get them done. I’m very passionate, zestful – I throw all of myself into everything I do. But sometimes, I don’t look like I’m doing much, because I’m also that passionate about relaxing. It does strike some as laziness.

Pickle is also by turns outspoken and reserved – usually the opposite of me. She sees a conflict, and she thinks, “Why does this keep happening to me? I wish they’d just knock it off already!” When cleaning, she can go through and pick up a cluttered room and vacuum and have it looking nice in 20 minutes. She sees a job and just goes for it. She’s very relaxed, laid back… also very passionate, but it manifests in a different way that I have difficulty describing.

When I’m experiencing turmoil, I need to talk it out. She, however, needs to be alone. When the turmoil is between us, this presents a difficult situation that we haven’t quite learned to navigate around.

Last night, we were playing, and I got too rough. I crossed a line, and she was angry with me – and hurt that I would cross that line when there were so many other options. I had said, “Do that again, and see what you get,” and when she did, I retaliated aggressively – she said, “When I say that, and you do it, sometimes I cuddle you or tickle you or kiss you… why do you always have to be so aggressive?” In her words and tone, I heard something akin to, “Why do you have to hurt me when I love you so much?”

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I’d honestly not even realized there was an alternative to my aggressive behavior. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but that was a real epiphany for me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t know. And I’m sorry means it won’t happen again.”

“I’ll be fine,” she said, sullenly. “Just don’t give me a 20 minute explanation of ‘I’m sorry’.”

I held her hand and looked in her eyes. “No explanation. Just sorry.” I sat and waited. She got uncomfortable. I was actually giving her the silence she needed, and it was so strange, she thought I must want something from her. She started to launch into a spiel about how I don’t need to babble at her forever and quit staring at her –

“I’m not babbling. I haven’t said much.” She arched her eyebrow at me. Ok, she thinks I talk too much anyway… I smiled. “Well, not for me. I haven’t said much, for me.”

That was it. That was all it took…. she smiled, said, “I love you. Go to sleep.” And everything was peaceful.

Silence works.

I hope I remember that.


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