It was only a short time before he opened up to me. He pored his heart out on to the floor and let me walk around it, observing all the mess. He sat in his shame and watched me. He didn’t run. He waited.
I had no idea how he was going to clean it up. It was seeping through the cracks in the old wood floor. It was too late to put back. I watched as he fell apart, knowing there was nothing I could do but try to hold myself together. I wasn’t doing a very good job of that, because I had never had someone show me the inside. The raw, unpleasant, inside. I wasn’t sure if I should fall apart or run.
There were so many questions. Mostly selfish. “How am I going to deal with this?”. “I thought I was a mess”. “How will I trust him?”. I told him he should talk to someone who could help him. I had no idea where he should even start. So I sat with him. We looked at it… for a long time. I still loved him, because he was real. We cried, talked and screamed. There were moments we screamed so loud. However, nothing was helping him with his shame.
I’m not sure if it was months or years before he found someone who said they could help him. He showed her just a little at first. He kept some of it under a rug so as not to alarm her. He moved the rug back bit by bit. At first she had gotten to her knees and began to wipe gently with a rhythmic motion. It was working, the stain on the floor was lifting and he had hope that he could replace the lost fluid with what was mopped up.
Then he pulled back the remainder of the rug.
It was so fast. Maybe too fast. She stood quickly and said she needed to think about how to get the rest out. It was much thicker and darker than the first part. She left.
The mess was still there and every time we walked by he was reminded. He made a mess and didn’t know how to fix it.
The shame. It had a smell to it. Like must but with a floral hint. He kept lighting incense and asking me if I could smell it. I could, but I didn’t want to add to the shame. All these years he walked around with that in his heart. When he finally pored it out it was thick. He thought he would feel better. That wasn’t what he felt. He felt an even greater shame. He knew what had caused it.
He realized in that moment that even the ones that thought they could clean such a mess were not equipped with the right tools. He was going to have to clean it up alone, slowly.
I never left. Not because I felt bad. But, because I knew I had a mess in there too. So I quietly got to my knees and I worked. Not just for him, but for me.
I thought to myself “he was brave to go first”. He risked so much by opening his heart like that. He knew in his mind that the mess gets worse before it gets better. Like when you finally clean out the closet.
I’m not sure how long it will take, but I’ll be here. I helped him stitch his chest back together. But it will take time for the wound to heal.
The shame is still there. He just knows now, who he can share the mess with and who needs the rug to feel safe.