Life. My boyfriend. He’s stressing me out about my past. He tells me what he thinks it is, and then he listens to other people about what they think it is. It’s really getting aggressive.
I think you–
Do you have anywhere to walk to?
Where do we start for her, on the next day? We build her a place to walk to, sure, we make it pleasant to inhabit, with good airflow and a door that she can lock or open and many options for light and darkness, with care for her mind and body if she wants them, with ways to be social and private because of course there are other people there, of course she’s not the only one.
But how do we keep him from following her there? Or if he follows her, how do we keep him away from the door? Baseball bats, alarm systems, a moat? And what if she wants to leave? Do we offer her a suit of armor, a tank, a semiautomatic? Do we walk with her everywhere she goes? How can we start with her?
Where do we start from, for her? He had things to say about her past. What can we say about his past? We don’t have a time machine. We can try to do right by the boys of the present, the men of the future, but he is in the world we made.
Let’s build him a place to walk to, a house of men, low-roofed and cool inside. When he walks in, looking for sympathy, looking for confirmation that he’s right to hate her, he’ll meet raised eyebrows, shaking heads, fists thumped on thighs–their own thighs, and the benches beside them. People who speak his language, but not only his language. People who talk about the present and the near future, not the past. People who offer him something, but not everything, he wants–enough for him to keep coming back. Come back here when you want to hurt her. Stay till you sober up from your anger. Fight with us if you want to fight: practice losing, practice winning. There’s food in the house, a heavy bag and weights, a bed to sleep in, vouchers for the doctor’s and the dentist’s office. One of us will be here whenever you’re here. Some of us have been where you once were, and some of us have been where she once was, trying to survive with someone like you.
While she doesn’t need him to survive, maybe he also doesn’t need himself to survive; maybe he learns to lean at a different angle. Maybe we can start with him, maybe we can start with him and with her, separately, but in unison.