Unsurprisingly this has lead to some arguments and even worse long periods of time where someone withholds and is passive aggressive (usually me). Because those moments of reaching out, asking for help are moments of vulnerability, moments where the heart is open and ready to receive. The trap is that one of us wants something specific, receiving love needs to look a certain way.
For example, if Adam comes home from work and sees me crying. His immediate reaction is to hold me, to hug me, however if I am crying because of nerve pain, being held can sometimes intensify the sensations. But in that moment if I turn away from him without explanation, his heart breaks and he launches into a story. My guess is that he launches into a story about how he is not doing enough, that he can't fix it. At the same time I am sitting in my own story of pain and not being enough myself. These two stories can snowball and feed off each other. We have done that dance and that fight so many times we could do it in our sleep.
Right now Adam and I are dealing with some major life changes and grief. Sterling meant something to us together and he also meant something unique to us an individuals. Our house feels vacant and both of us dread being home alone, at the same time being alone gives us time to face that grief the other person can't quite grasp. When Adam and I came home from the vet, we saw the last toy that Sterling had played with. He had dragged his monkey out and left it in the middle of the room. Neither one of us could manage to move it. Each one of us felt something different when we looked at it and we also felt the same thing.
Adam is one of the strongest, smartest and most capable people I know. He amazes me all the time, if he only knew how many times I just stare at him in awe and gratitude. He also loves me unconditionally, and patiently reminds me of this all the time. However he can't fix my health, he can't bring Sterling back and he can't make the process of grief go any faster. (Though maybe there is an equation for that. Lol). I might be one of the most caring and compassionate people that Adam knows, but right now I am pretty tapped out. I can't fix his grief and I am struggling to take care of myself.
What can we do? How do we make space for both of us to heal together and separately? Adam helps drive me to appointments, and I need to make sure I tell him how much that means to me. That he is doing so much to help support me. I need to tell him that I really want a hug from him but it might hurt, I need to remind him that playing with my hair is super comforting, that him being next to me helps center me and soothe me. We both need to find ways to allow that heartbreak and receptivity be filled with loved without making it have to look like something.
I do my best to keep Adam's favorite foods in the house, to make sure he has things he enjoys eating. I even brought home eggs as a surprise comfort food for him. (Eggs are a huge trigger for my bladder and so they are not around much.). I make sure he knows it is okay to tell me he needs space and needs to get out of the house. That it makes sense to me and I don't think he is running away from me because I believe I am a burden. He trusts that if I interrupt his time out it is for a good reason.
Adam and I both understand love differently, and we express and receive love differently. In times of change, we offer what we understand love to be, and hope it is enough. Both of our hearts are hurting right now and each time we go through something we learn more about what the other person needs. We learn to talk and communicate, we learn to give each person space and be patient even though we know they are hurting. Healing is lonely because no one can do it for you. No one can eat, drink, exercise for you, no one can identify what will help except yourself.
I have been struggling a lot. I have hit the ground really hard and have some pretty impressive bruises, which finally got me to the point where I not only asked for help but was willing to accept it. That is the beauty of heartbreak, we allow more into our lives. That moment of loneliness, that vacant feeling when I feel abandoned and alone creates space for me to receive. It is still up to me to say "yes," and I am learning to accept my vulnerability and allow the process to continue.
Question of the day: How hard is it for you to ask for help? When someone asks you for help, think about the courage it takes and how vulnerable they are. Take the time to hear them and yourself, we all want to be heard.