I accidentally saw his tortured face and wondered how I had missed he was suffering with me too.
After I lost a dear friend, I knew since high school through a terrible car accident; I was in a dark pit. So black that I couldn’t see. No light penetrated the gloom. Not a glimmer of luminosity reached me. It was like the bottom of the ocean. Frigid and sunless. I had sunk in utter grief.
I yearned for the pain to go away.
Never realizing the one I love was living with my pain, too.
Sometimes we miss what’s right in front of us for days, weeks, and an entire month. Like I did.
Yes, my boyfriend had cried with me at my friend’s funeral. But after I came back from the funeral, though, I had locked myself in our bedroom. Even though we slept and spent 24/7 together in the apartment we live in, I had shut him out. I wanted to protect him from my sadness. Communication is important, but communicating your level of pain is not always an easy thing to do. Pain is invisible and only you know how you’re feeling. I felt I could not keep the lines of communication open when I was going through tragedy.
Except I was not alone. He was living with my pain too all along.
I’m thankful for Last Sunday morning when I saw by accident what he was going through…
My boyfriend had dragged my unwilling body to our kitchen to put some food in my body. While he was breaking some eggs and pouring them on the pan, a colleague called me to check up on me. That’s when I noticed something I’ve not noticed before. “How are you doing? Are you going back to work this week?” my colleague was asking over the phone.
But I was not listening.
Something painful had captured my eye. I looked across at my boyfriend standing next to our kitchen cabinet. He leaned against it and he appeared sad –another word that came to mind was devastated. When I blinked my eyes and looked at him again, he quickly rearranged his face into a big smile, even gave a little laugh.
For the past month, since I lost a dear friend, I had never seen that look on my boyfriend’s face — because he had never wanted me to see it. He was focused on being strong for me, and he was doing his best to shield me from the full toll my grief was taking.
Whenever I think back at that look, it still chokes me up. It reminds me of the hard truth: when you’re going through your most difficult time, you’re not the only one hurting. Your loved ones are also living with that pain; they are carrying the burden too. But when you’re deep in it, you can’t see it.
Someone you love might not have spells or special powers or the ability to solve the struggles spinning in your brain.
Maybe you’re grieving. Maybe you have lost a job. Maybe your startup has failed. Maybe you or a family member is sick. Maybe you’re going through dark emotions. You feel like you’re buried alive under the weight of a thousand boulders, helpless. You feel lost and in pain. And you feel like you’re going through this pain alone.
But you’re not.
Someone you love can’t save you from pain and difficult times. He might not have the power to close his eyes, take a deep breath, and have your pain no longer weigh on you. He might not have the magical power to just wash your pain away.
But maybe he can help you hurt a little less. Even if your world is falling apart, he can help you survive this difficult time. A person in your corner is a wonderful thing.Remember that when you’re going through pain. When you’re struggling through a difficult time, someone you love is fighting with you. He is standing beside you. A person that will never let you suffer alone.
That someone is hurting with you too.
Someone you love can’t save you from difficult times. He can’t give you answers or make sense of what you’ve lost.
But he can give you his presence, his love, his compassion, his support, his attention, and his hand in yours. He is there for you when you don’t think you can get up from bed. He is standing with you. He is walking with you. He is rising with you.
You don’t have to go through pain alone. Your loved one can lift you. He can make you laugh. He can hold your hand when you’re going through a difficult time.
But this is possible only if you look closely at someone you love instead of leaping.
Seek those quiet moments, those expressions, and interactions that might go unnoticed.
That Sunday morning when I saw my boyfriend’s tortured face, I curled up like a fetus and sobbed uncontrollably. He drew me in and embraced me. He caressed my cheek with the back of his hand. He kissed my tears away.
The pain of losing my friend was still there. But I felt an intense release. Cathartic. Like a rebirth.
Even though I was and am still grieving– at that moment, every single fathomless crevice of my pain was illuminated by the light of his love.
And it was glorious.
A keen sense of observation could be a useful superpower, my friends. People often talk about the ability to read a room. There are subtle shifts in facial expressions and body language that words can obscure. Character is often revealed in these quiet moments. There is real intimacy and understanding that can be developed if you’re really seeing and looking at someone you love when you’re going through pain.
Catalog what someone who loves you says without words.
Look for the subtleties like their facial expressions, their posture. Observe every detail. Write it. This deliberate action can do wonders for your pain. It can make you feel alright again.
When you take in every detail in your loved one’s presence, you hurt less.