Well, more accurately, I fall down… a lot. I’m a clutz. Always have been. But it wasn’t until I got into my current relationship that I realized I did this falling down thing so much.
My parents were the “suck it up” kind. If you fell and you didn’t hurt yourself, you just got up and went about your day. If you did hurt yourself, you bandaged that shit up and went about your day. You didn’t make a big deal about it either way.
I wish I had a scanned copy of one of our family portraits to show you that has my younger brother wearing a band-aid over one of his eyebrows that covered the stitches he had just recently gotten. There’s also a picture somewhere of me as a toddler smiling while covered in scratches and bruises after just having survived a bicycle accident I had with my older brother. Those are just the images of how I remember it. No big deal.
My fiancé is very protective of me but sometimes it feels like overkill. He’s seen me fall down at least half a dozen times personally and not one time has resulted in more than a bruise or a scratch. The look of horror on his face as I’m on the ground makes me feel worse for him than I do for me. In my head, I’m just thinking, “dammit that’s gonna leave a mark” while he must be imagining all kinds of horrible scenarios.
I fell down once on some slippery pavement and banged my knee up pretty good. I just kept saying I was sorry over and over again involuntarily. I think I kept saying that I was sorry because I was sorry he had to witness that. It just gives him such anxiety.
This whole thing came to mind because I fell out of bed yesterday. I was trying to casually roll out of bed like I sometimes do. The bed is a little high and slightly more so since we had to put some rubber stoppers under the wheels because of our new hardwood flooring. My socks slipped on the floor (I was used to carpeting before) and I just went over the side and down. I hit my hand on the floor but that’s the worst of it. I have a small bruise on the palm of my left hand.
He comes over to me asking if I’m alright and looks completely devastated. I had to comfort him. I’m not making light of his reaction, I just don’t always understand it. I play a wait and see game when someone falls. If they are alright, I help them up. If they’ve injured themselves, I offer whatever help I can with that. I just don’t seem to get that upset about it, regardless of who they are. It’s just me and it’s neither the right or wrong way to be. It takes all kinds.
I’m trying to remember that his reaction is just an expression of how much he loves me. He would be completely lost if one of my falls turned out to be more serious. And my family loves me too, even if they didn’t make a big fuss every time I hurt myself. People express love in different ways. The trick is to let them do it their way and to hone your ability to recognize it. Expecting people to love you the way you think they should and to show it how you would show it is an exercise in frustration and futility. Love is both given and received and it takes all kinds of forms. There’s even love in a good scolding.
It makes me a little more careful when I walk, when I climb stairs and now, when I get out of bed. I have someone besides myself to answer to when I take a tumble. And that’s one of the hardest lessons for a fiercely independent person to get.