I like to believe I can do anything. I like to think I have the power at least to change my world. But that is not always the case.
Try as I might, I am not all-powerful. I can’t always stop the people I love from being hurt, even if we are both in WR and their perpetrators are oceans away.
It’s not always my place to speak up.
For the longest time, I felt that if you love someone, it is your duty to use your voice, to fight for and beside them.
I have so much love to give and so much will to fight. I am ready, always to take up arms against the powers-that-be—the toxic friends, the abusive partners, the heartless parents.
How, I wonder, can others not see this person I love the way I see them? How can they hurt the people I would do anything to protect? How can others not see this person as the precious, priceless, perfect blessing they’ve received?
They are oblivious. They are naïve. They are fools. They are children who accidentally caught a butterfly and are plucking its wings. It is the butterfly that suffers.
But we cannot discipline the children because the butterfly loves them. So much so that it is willing to be scarred and maimed, or even die, as long the children can be happy.
The butterfly is Gregor Samsa choosing to wither away slowly and painfully so his family can live free from any guilt of how they mutilated him. The butterfly is my friend.
Love is a strange thing. It rarely makes sense. It must also coexist with respect.
Before, I would have walked into my friend’s house, feminist guns blazing, ready to tear their honourable facade apart. Before, I would have forgotten any shame and burned their paper- thin excuses to the ground. Before, I would have lost my friend.
I have to love her while respecting that I am not a part of her family and it is not my place to confront them.
While love can be empowering, it can also render you powerless. You can’t change everything you want to change or protect everyone you want to protect.
What I can do is listen to her and give her space. When she tells me about the latest fight or recounts the most recent punishment, I can be sad with her. When she spends hours repeating the same stories and the same disclaimers about how those who hurt her aren’t bad people, I can reassure her that I don’t think less of her or them.
With love and joy, the more you give, the more you have and the more you can give. The same is true of hurt and anger. But when you love someone, you can take their sadness and find joy in lightening the burden on their heart. In claiming their pain and sorrow as your own, as your business, you can give a moment of respite.
Even when the butterfly loves the children that pluck its wings and even when you can’t say anything to the children, I think you can love enough to find joy in relieving its pain and trying to mend its wings. Hopefully, my friend can fly again one day.