“Good. Good. Now you owe me something. I have fed you and told you my secrets and, yet, I do not even know your name. Keep your troubles to yourself, but … what is your name?”
“Kelvin. Kelvin Rockwell. My friends call me Kel. My kids, when they want to rile me, call me Kellie. They got that from their mother. They get great joy out of annoying me.”
“Ah. Niños. Cuantos? How many?”
“Two boys. Spence and Jason. Spence is thirteen, almost fourteen. Jason is only four and still thinks that he just might get to see real steam come out of my ears if he angers me enough.”
“Hmmmmm,” the old man mused. “Two boys. You must love them very much.”
“Of course I do.”
“Por favor, please, Señor Rockwell. You have two boys at home. Yet you are sitting across my table from me, eating my beans and rice and Isabella’s tortillas. On your face, I can see mucho dolor. You are a pained man. It is written into your skin. You are here instead of at home with your Spence and Jason. I ask you again. What is it that troubles you?”
“I . . . I love my kids.”
“Si, naturalmente. You have told me this.”
I drained the last of the beer and put the bottle on the table in front of me. I began to scratch at the paper label on the bottle as I began to scratch at the surface of my pain. “I don’t know if it’s enough anymore.” I shrugged and looked at Father Santos, hoping that was enough to satisfy him.
“Señor. Talk. Talk with this,” he sighed, pointing at his chest, “instead of this.” He pointed at his head. “Let go. Don’t be afraid to feel what you are feeling.”
“Father Santos, you’re asking me to say something I’ve never said before. To . . .”
“Señor Rockwell, tienes que hablar de tu corazon. Ay. I am asking you to do nothing more than to speak from your heart. You come here for a reason I do not know. Maybe in the morning you will leave, but I doubt you will leave any wiser. It is a long trip to make for nothing more than a plate of rice and beans and a couple of cervezas. Even Isabella’s tortillas, as good as they may be, are not worth such a trip.”
The blurb on Weed Therapy may suggest otherwise, but thus begins Father Santos’s first lesson for the woebegone Kelvin Rockwell.
Tell me if you’ve done this. It’s an internal conversation that goes on entirely inside your head and leaves you frozen, unable to speak what you feel. Something like this:
I really wish my husband would stop spending so much time drinking with his friends and spending more time with me. And the kids. I can’t believe he keeps doing it. It makes me worry so much. I wish I could make him understand that he’s missing out on so much. And that I miss him. I need to tell him. But, he’ll just tell me to back off or stop being such a worry wart. Or, then we’ll start fighting and I don’t want to fight.
And, how do those conversations typically go? You end up talking yourself out of starting it. That little nitpicky fear tacked on to the internal conversation tells you to stop. Don’t do it. And then weeks or months later something happens and it ends up like this:
Why the hell can’t you clean up after yourself? I’m so fuckin’ tired of cleaning up dirty dishes in the sink that you leave behind. But, I guess you never notice since you’re never here. Right? Why should you care about the dishes if you’re always out with your friends? You think you could stay home and spend some time with your kids every once in awhile. At least.
Father Santos’ first lesson for Kelvin Rockwell is that he should speak with his heart instead of his head. Too often the emotions ruled by your head are those that lead to fear and uncertainty. When you should speaking your feelings you are drawn away from them. We all fear this. The reaction we’ll get if we say what we really think and what we really feel. Instead, our head stops by warning us. Don’t. Do. It.
What this is really about for me is the most basic of elements required for a solid relationship. Not just a marriage, but it applies to any friendship, and even employer-employee relationships as well. Communication. Feel what you feel and speak it. Don’t be afraid. Don’t let your head stop you. Don’t let your inner control rationalize away the need to share with those around you how you feel. Even if it is an ache. Even if it hurts. Even if you aren’t sure how they will react.
I’ve had a few experiences in my lifetime where the ability to speak freely created the basis for the most incredible friendships I have ever had. One in particular will always stick out as the creme de la creme — the most perfect example of this. I laid the ground rule from the start. I said communication is the key. That everything and anything must be shared. It turned into the most incredible thing I ever experienced and I learned from that. If you speak from your heart to someone who is receptive to it (and, yes, that is a whole other issue), nothing but good can follow.
Speak from your heart. With love and forgiveness. Ignore the fear and uncertainty that clouds your head.