Let down my guard

I was basically starting to let down my guard. Or more simply, I was just trying to stop fighting windmills.

sunset, broken fence by garden beth

Life had just shown me that I am way weaker and more vulnerable than I have ever imagined or wanted to be. But, as time went by and I felt better, I got more and more used to the idea that my fragility is not something I should be ashamed of, that it is even something that makes me a better person. Borrowing a metaphor from literature, I was starting to feel like my character on the stage had just been promoted from being a flat bi-dimensional one, to a complex, well-rounded one. It was like reality had broken in, in a horrific explosion of fears and pain, but once the racket had gotten quieter, I started realizing that I was still alive. And, for some reason, life was looking better, brighter and fuller than before the blast.

In this new phase of positivity, I started enjoying more and more the company of my friends, sharing my time, my thoughts and my space with them. Even physical contact began to acquire a new meaning. I had never actually avoided physical contact with people, but I had never been particularly fond of it either. In this new phase, I realized I was enjoying physical contact and proximity with other people more and more.

On a late May afternoon, after having spent almost the whole day with my best friend, when it was time to say good-bye and go back home, he looked at me, opened his arms and said “Hug?”.

We had been best friends for ten years and we had never hugged each other. But this time, I didn’t even have to process the sound of that word, I didn’t even have to wait for those three letters to be interpreted inside my head. I just naturally reacted to his gesture: I opened my arms, moved a step forward and dove in his hug. I laid my head between his chest and left shoulder, placed my hands on his back and relished the sweetness of my abandonment.

I didn’t remember having felt that good, either in that last period or in any other moment of my life. I felt protected in his hug, I felt relaxed, it felt soft and easy, it felt deep and bright. In one word, it felt good.

I mumbled on his chest: “I’m gonna stain your jacket with my makeup”, but I didn’t move, I wouldn’t have lifted my face from his chest for anything in the world. “It doesn’t matter” he whispered with his lips next to my ear.  He was right, in the absolute perfection of that moment, my makeup on his jacket didn’t matter. Or even better, it made everything feel more real and, therefore, more intense.

Basically I had just let down my guard, I had just done something I had been dreading for all my life. For some reason, even without having actually ever done it, something in the back of my head had been telling me that in the moment in which you let down your guard, you irreparably give way to hurt and suffering. Therefore I had never allowed myself to relax my vigilance, I had never stopped looking out for danger, in any aspect of my life, especially in my relationship with the others.

That afternoon, as I let myself go into that hug, a very small breach was made into the walls I had been building up for all my life.

That very small gesture felt surprisingly good and liberating. So, once again, my feelings were proving my head wrong: letting down my guard was probably going to expose me to the risk of being hurt, but, at the same time, it was giving way to the love and affection I had been needing like air.

 


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