Holding On

tear“Would you like to sit down?”

He turned around, “Can’t I just stand? I’m too upset to sit down.”

“Of course.”

He walked over to the window and looked outside. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been sadder. Felt. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so sad.”

“Do you know why?”

He pushed his hands into his pockets and looked down. “I hate sweatpants.”

“Then why are you wearing them?”

“I had a stress test today. I was supposed to wear something comfortable.”

“Let’s get back to why you’re feeling sad.”

“Because I realized today I’m unlovable.”

“I don’t think that’s true. Lots of people love you.”

He turned around and looked at the priest sitting in the chair. “Are you supposed to offer opinions?”

“Absolutely. This is spiritual direction. This isn’t therapy.”

He returned to the window. “Okay.”

“So what makes you think you’re unlovable?”

“Because no one is in love with me.” He stared out the window. “Thank God for sunshine. I don’t think I could take a gloomy day.”

“Not being in love doesn’t mean you’re unlovable.”

“I didn’t say I wasn’t in love. I said no one was in love with me.”

“Please turn around.”

He turned.

“Do you honestly think you’re unlovable?”

“Yes. To a certain extent I do.” He returned to the window. “I thought about it a lot today. No one’s ever picked me. You know? No one’s ever said let’s do forever together.” He crossed his arms and hugged his sides with his hands. “I just thought about it today. I got out of the stress test and I realized how really alone I am.”

“You have friends and family who love you. Can you see that?

He walked over to the bookcase and picked a dead leaf off a plant. “Bro you need to water this. It’s as dry as a bone.”

“Can you see that people love you?”

He pruned another plant, “I didn’t say I don’t feel loved. This isn’t that.”

“What is it then?”

“I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not a romance thing. I had to wait for my car at the hospital. I had valet parked and I watched people walk by and I realized that no one preferred me over other people. No one ever wanted me most. That’s all. I realized it today.” A tear trickled down his cheek and he wiped it away with the palm of his hand.

“You can still find that. It’s not too late.”

He walked over and sat on the sofa. “You know I always felt so unique like I didn’t fit anywhere or with anybody but today I realized I wasn’t unique at all. I was just one of a crowd. I was never actually thought of as someone worth choosing.”

“I don’t think that’s true at all.” He uncrossed his legs and leaned until he placed an elbow on each knee. “I’m going to ask you something and I want you to think about what I’m saying. Okay?”

“Sure.”

“I think you should consider counselling. I think these are issues a therapist could address with you.”

“That’s not a question. That’s a recommendation.”

“Will you think about it?”

“I have thought about it.” He crossed his legs. “You know I talked to my cardiologist about this yesterday. We talked about stress and emotionally dealing with heart failure. And I told him, I’m the sanest person I know. I deal with every emotion the moment I feel it. I don’t let things build up or go unexamined. I don’t.” He touched his heart with the palm of his hands as he spoke. “See I’m sad today because I realized it. I’m not sad because I feel hopeless about it.”

“Okay.”

“This heart failure thing is making me rethink my life. You know?” He stood up and walked to the window. “You know what else I noticed about myself this week?” He returned and walked over to the sofa and sat. “I’m modest again. I haven’t been so modest in years.”

“What do you mean?”

“The other day I had to be fitted with a Holter Monitor. They measure your heart rate. You have to wear them for like a day or two. You’ve seen them. They’re a bunch of wires. Anyway, I had to stand up and take off my shirt so the nurse could put it on me. And I was so embarrassed. I was humiliated! She had to reshave my chest so she could attach it and I actually shivered. I felt so weak and vulnerable.” He stood up and walked to the window and looked outside. “Now you can say it’s just because of the heart thing. And that’s probably true. But it’s not like me at all.”

“You’re too self-critical. That was a completely normal reaction.”

“No. Not for me. Or maybe it is now. I don’t know. I’m thinking about it.” He turned around. “Do you know I once had sex in a public bathroom? It was years ago. I had picked up this woman and we went into the men’s room and I took her into a stall and we had sex. And the weirdest part? This guy looked over the top of the stall and watched us and I didn’t even stop. I didn’t care.”

“When was this?”

“A couple of years after I left the seminary. We weren’t friends then. I spent some pretty wild years in the middle of all that. Factor in all the drugs and smoking and shit and it doesn’t surprise me at all that my heart is fucked.”

“I can’t imagine you being like that.”

“Now I’m not justifying.” He looked out the window again. “I’m not. But you have to remember how I was. I had just left the seminary. I had dropped all the weight and I was fucking tired of people saying I was gay all the time. So I became really promiscuous. I proved to myself and everyone around me I wasn’t what they accused me of.”

“Okay so you’re not that man anymore. Celebrate the growth.”

“No you’re missing my point. I realized when she was putting on the monitor how much I’ve changed.”

“I’m glad you’re changed.”

“Me too.”

“So why doesn’t that fact make you happy?”

“Because I’m lonesome.”

“Do you mean lonely?”

He turned around and looked at his friend. “No I’m never lonely. I’m lonesome. And I’m sad. I’m sad I wasn’t picked. Today I realized I wasn’t picked.”

“Here’s a thought.”

“Huh?”

“God chose you. Consider that.”

“Nice try Padre. But you can’t feel God when you need someone to hold you. You just can’t. And I’m telling you, I need to be held.” A tear trickled down his cheek and he wiped it with the back of his hand.

(photo credit: Dean Winchester.)

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