What You Say

 

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It started with him and I

Once

A seemingly typical experience for strangers

Beginning in hope and ending in silence

 

With a superficial sense of comfort

I confided in him what haunted me

Explaining that I’d preferred to go in small steps

Relieved when met with a response of compassion and understanding

The same wavelength

Which we seemed to be on through the following night (and into morning)

Not one of regret, but not one without lessons

Deep enough to soul search

 

In living in the tension

No verbal response of what was next

With the news of the days, weeks, and months swirling around

I began to ponder

Whose responsibility is it,

To ensure not just an avoidance of attack

But a positive coming together

 

And upon reflection came the realization

Such responsibilities are for both partners

A responsibility to communicate needs, wants, and boundaries

And to respect said boundaries without guilt, shame, or coercion

A perhaps awkward but necessary conversation

That happens before doors close

And clothing removed

 

Language. Words.

They matter

Even in a culture of anything goes

Which lately, is seeming to be anything but fun or empowering

Especially for those who are deep and emotional

With desire to know their partner, and be known

 

But we cannot blame cultural norms entirely

Or fault expectations or standards in leu of personal choices

Yes, it’s challenging

And one might not be sure

Until they’ve walked that path or mile

Yet society is fleeting

Always changing

One cannot let it blow like the wind

Letting these broken norms do anymore damage

To those who navigate the taboo and silence

 

Let’s not simplify by idolizing marriage or previous ideals as the answer

Relationships and interactions as a whole

Only successful with conversation

Humility

Listening

And a willingness to grow and evolve

 

Maybe I can’t change the world

But I can be better than I’ve been

I can honor my body

I can honor my heart

That which I truly want

By acknowledging it

Out loud in prayer, and to others

 

What you say

(or don’t say)

May not hold you responsible for what happens

But by staying true to that which you hold dear

May it set you free

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