July 12, 2004
Sometimes we don’t need a helping hand—we just need a holding hand.
~ Nines and Paul
Everyone needs a holding hand, I think—not someone who can push you forward or pull you up when the going gets rough, but someone who can stay put with you even when you’re stuck in uncomfortable situations. Especially when you’re stuck in uncomfortable situations.
You know those days when it seems as if the whole world is against you and you just wanna shrivel up and die? That’s when you need someone to be there with you. Someone who can take the flak and the sh*t with you, someone who won’t run when you’re cornered in a dark alley, someone who’ll take Life’s punches and blows with you. Not someone who’d say, “Awww, baby, I know how you feel… here’s a hug”, but someone who still can’t speak because he got hit and bled just as much as you have.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t do anything when they’re stuck in a rut, but sometimes there’s a value to just staying put and staying still. With each other.
There were so many times in our relationship when either of us got slapped in the face by Life and found it so embarrassing to be in front of the other. Naturally, we wanted to show only the best sides of ourselves to each other and just retell the painful stories as if they were parts of a distant—even comic—past. But there were moments when we’d just catch each other at that exact moment when Life hit us really hard and we just stumbled and fell. And we just stayed there, immobilized by the pain… shamed by the thought that the one you wanted to shield from all this was right there, witnessing everything in real time.
It would’ve been so easy for either of us to just say, “I give up. This is too much for me to handle,” and just run as fast as we can to the opposite direction. Instead we chose to say, “If this is part of being with you and loving you, then I’m taking it.” Not because we’re martyrs and we love the idea of sacrificing ourselves for the other (yeesh….), but because we know that loving the other person means going through Life with them—whatever Life means.
Sometimes, it’s more bad than good. And there’s nothing much you can do.
Except to pray that something good happens soon. And to hold each other’s hand and cheer each other on.
* * * * *
What does it mean to hold hands? Well, it can mean several things.
Sometimes, it can mean just being there for the other person and hearing them out when they need a loving and patient ear. Having the same birthday and being made of pretty much the same stuff, Paul and I have this tendency to yak and whine about the same stuff over and over… and over. Now, if you were the other person and you also had something to whine about, it can get pretty tiresome listening to the other person going on and on like a broken record. But because we respect each other’s need to unload, we give each other that space to whine until we get tired and say, “Thanks for that. Now it’s your turn.” And the whining goes on. (You really just need to do it, sometimes.)
Other times, holding hands can mean resisting the urge to fix things for the other person and giving them enough space to make their own decisions at their own time. Sure, it’s nice to go into “solution mode” especially when you think that the answer is already staring you right at the face, but I’ve realized—especially most recently—that everyone has his or her rhythm for doing things, and there are some things, some decisions that you just can’t rush. Holding hands means not pulling someone up or pushing them forward, but just staying still with that person—no matter where you are, no matter what the circumstance, even if you’re already itching to move.
Holding hands in that way reflects how you respect each other’s individuality and how you trust each other to make good, sound decisions. Of course, it’s always good to ask for each other’s advice, especially when the decisions that have to be made will affect you both, but it’s also nice to just stand back and see how the other person moves. You discover much about the other person that way, and what you learn often amazes you.
“Holding hands” and giving each other space is also a sign of security and stability, at least in the context of our relationship. When we back off and just stay in the sidelines, it’s as if we’re saying, “I know my place in this relationship. I don’t own you… I know your love for me doesn’t depend on this one little thing in front of us… I can’t think for you, so go ahead and make your own decisions. I’ll be here for you no matter what happens after.” No you-should’ves, no if-you-had-onlys, just we’re-in-this-togethers. Even if you end up making a wrong turn after all.
* * * * *
I’m not sharing all these to be preachy or to brag about my super-fabulous relationship. Far from it. I think it’s because Paul and I have gone through a whole lot of hell together that we can now look back and come to these realizations about ourselves and our relationship. As I’ve said in the previous Spoonful, there’s nothing like adversity to bring people closer together.
A romantic relationship brings with it so many joys and pains, so many wonderful moments and unforgettable scenes. There are great days and duh-days, kisses and fights, laughter and tears. No matter what state we’re in, however, I think it’s important to remember something that someone once said: “When crossing the street (or going out into the world), stay close together and hold hands.” (Or something like that.)
May you find that one person to hold hands with, and may you sincerely enjoy holding hands.