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He sat in silence across from me, his head shaking slightly but steadily. I waited, knowing that my silence was his noise, that he would find words for that. And he did.
“I’m stuck, Doc,” he said, staring at nothing. “I’m in this dead-end place with nothing but problems all around me,”
A glance caught my eye but quickly moved back to staring at nothing.
“You’ve been there before?”
“Yeah … but not like this. I’ve always had a way out. I… I’m so dumb!”
“Beating yourself up won’t help. I know what you’re feeling but you’re not as helpless as you think. Your dead end is all about getting past what got you there without dealing with it.”
“So, what are you saying?”
Silence. I raised my eyebrows as if to say, “You tell me.”
“Doc, she just won’t forgive me. She can’t understand how …”
“She still love you?”
He jerked back, squirmed upright, ran a hand across his face and puffed his cheeks with an audible sigh.
“How can she?”
“You still love her?”
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”
“Then there’s your way out. Turn and walk back in to what you did; talk to her; ask her forgiveness. Tell her you’re getting help, that you need hers. Give her time and ask her to give you some as well. Say you know there’s no quick fix but your love for her can make up for your mistake.”
“Sounds simple, Doc, but you …”
“It’s not simple and it won’t be easy,” I broke in. “But if your love for her is what you say it is, she will feel it. Then it’s her call. Maybe she’s at a dead end herself.”
*. *. *. *. *. *
Any problem in a relationship can be solved. There is no such thing as a dead end as long as one or the other is willing to turn around and deal with how they got there. Working through the issue may not always produce a happy ending, but it can provide a clearer place for those involved. Sometimes that place is a more honest – and deeper-loving – relationship. But that requires hard work by both parties.
What needs to be remembered is that there can be no undoing. Shakespeare says it best in Macbeth: “What’s done is done,” which every dead end echoes. Any relationship has its own scar tissue. The measure of love is in the healing. By turning away from any dead end and dealing with the damage of the past, learning what needs to be learned, relationships may discover that love can be synonymous with forgiveness (and vice versa) and both are always about a better life.