I had the pleasure of spending time with a good friend yesterday, catching up over a coffee. He is one of the better “thinkers” that I know, and he never fails to impress me with his breadth of understanding, especially related to the existential topics. I have needed people like him in my life to bounce ideas off of.
He made a comment about “the gift of the open door”, the opening of the heart that engulfs someone when he or she is willing to let go of what is and embrace what might be (at least that is what I think he meant).
What do I know about this door, and the gift? I have a relatively small sample size, but I became opened up to see the door only after I mustered the courage/guts/strength/luck to risk looking at my confusion. Looking at my confusion led me to my darkness. Looking at my darkness led me to my pain. Looking at my pain led to my freedom. And the door appeared.
The door did not open, though. It just appeared, and it remained an option to push it open and have a glimpse. At this point, I had my freedom and I could have chosen to settle for this. However, I couldn’t settle, and I cannot really explain why. I had been bench-pressing darkness for my entire adult life and it was now time to explore something quite different. The strange thing is that I didn’t understand this until I started to write this blog entry. I was just playing with the line that my friend uttered, and in the play I found something new about myself. His great line was yet another door in the line of several that I have been presented with in the last few years. As I sat down to write about doors, another one appeared. Spirit again.
Men like me, men like us, the men who have had to stay afloat through the process of rediscovering themselves, all can choose to decline the offer of healing from sexual abuse. In the moments the “doors” appear, a very real and difficult choice must be made. And it is difficult; there can be no denying this. Yet my personal experience is that the gifts through that door are the very ones we need to continue. We only need step through. The people that show up and listen and love and stay while we thrash about become treasures. Strangely, knowing the names and faces of those that cannot stay while we thrash about is another kind of gift: we need this truth so we can be truthful with ourselves.
We find that we are stronger than we could have possibly imagined. This strength is not a “new” strength, but one that we have had always, seemingly unavailable under the anxiety. We also find out something even greater: that we are capable of loving, that a huge part of our pain was in denying ourselves to feel the love we naturally have. These two seemingly opposite forces, strength and love, are two sides of the same coin. They re-emerge side by side, together.
There are many men that have passed through these doors. Sadly there are so many more that haven’t. As I have opened up my part of this conversation, I have to admit that I have been stunned by the proliferation of these tales of sexual abuse. Truly stunned. The more I find out, the more I read, the more often I have tears for strangers.
And I know not what I can do, but to write here of my small portion of the overall story. How do I make it clear to those that need the support that I am waiting on the other side of the “door”?