I can remember sitting in the very classroom when my professor spoke these words, “We are wounded in relationship and we are healed in relationship.”
I was in my front yard, walking to the mailbox when I looked down the road and saw my neighbor, *Henry, lying in a pile in the street. He wasn’t looking so good. My mind instantly flashed through the few medical problems he struggled with over the years.
I quickly ran over to Henry and asked him if he was okay? He grumbled, “I’m alright,” while swatting his arm at me suggesting not to touch him. Henry seemed disorientated. I was able to help him sit upright on the curb of the sidewalk.
Henry’s house was not far away. So, I asked him, “Can I help you back to your house? Why don’t we try to go back to your house, and you can sit down?”
We sat on the curb of the intersection for a time. Slowly, Henry agreed he wanted to go back to his house. I helped Henry to his feet and we ambled carefully back to his house.
Just then some of the pain of what had been bothering Henry came out.
“You know, women are dirt,” he said to me.
“Well, this piece of dirt is helping you home right now,” I said in response.
Leaning on me, together we gimply limped back to his house, Henry poured out the story of how …… (fill in the blank with a female name) befriended him and took he and his father’s bank account information and robbed them both. He just learned this woman had robbed others before, he wasn’t going to get his money back, and he felt bad he had let his Dad down.
As Henry explained how to open the door to his house, I said to him, “I’m so sorry this happened to you, Henry. It wasn’t right. That was a terrible thing to happen to you and your Dad.”
My response brought on a new telling of the story of how devastated and jaded he felt by this woman running off with his money, his friendship, and his hope in others.
All I could do was listen.
I offered to get him something to drink, to call for the local paramedics, “Can I help you in any way to feel better?”
Henry rebuffed all of my offers to ease his pain.
I brought up several different topics of conversation, but after I listened to the fourth or fifth version of the tale of betrayal, all I could think to say to Henry is, “I don’t know how to say this, but not all women are bad. There are good people in the world. Sometimes, it takes a while to find them.”
When Henry was stable and calm, I went back to my house.
I still keep an eye out for Henry and wave to him when I am driving passed his open garage door which he uses like a modern day porch to take in all of the activity happening in the neighborhood. From time to time, we visit at the ‘mailbox watering hole’ (where a collection of our mailboxes are grouped together).
Even though I was not the one that hurt Henry, someone from my gender did hurt him. It’s been several years since our ‘dirt conversation’ happened. It’s taken all of that time to build trust with Henry, but in time I hope my professor’s words come true for him, “We are wounded in relationship, and we are healed in relationship.”
*Henry’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.