It Was Only Natural – short story

Thomas was a man who didn’t cry about himself. He cried at movies. That was other people’s lives. He was used to carrying on with his responsibilities. However, this particular day, Thomas was sobbing.

Kathleen hugged him and said, “I’m so sorry Tom. We have been friends so long. I know you want us to be together but I feel that we are better as friends.” He apologised but kept crying. After many years of weariness in his personal life, Thomas finally had the opportunity to be with someone he wanted to be with.  Thomas, also, knew that in order to move into the next stage of his life, he would need to change many things and those around him wouldn’t like it. Courage wasn’t his strong point. He was good. He wasn’t brave. Kathleen said she could help him as a friend. Thomas felt that it would not be enough. He was probably right. He loved Kathleen but, more than that, he needed her.  Thomas felt that it was so close to getting what he wanted but Kathleen’s answer was still no.

It didn’t take long for Kathleen and Thomas to start talking again. They had been friends so long, it was only natural. They kept talking and would see each other more and more frequently. Kathleen didn’t say no again. She let it happen. He was a good man. He deserved the help. The relationship was easily compatible. They were both easy to live with. However, the worth of a relationship is not based on ease but on purpose and depth. Thomas came from a controlling family and community. Were they controlling? Actually, they were just normal people. Anyone can turn into a tyrant if we let them. Even the most inoffensive of dogs can become a monster in their own home if their master becomes a servant to them, afraid to take the lead. If we are good but not strong, we must learn that without courage other people will destroy our life. Everything we value is open to being taken or destroyed by a stronger person. If we are strong but not good, we must learn that without goodness, we destroy our own life.

At every turn, the supposed-tyrants were challenged, not by Thomas but by Kathleen. Kathleen knew that if she didn’t stand her ground, not only would Tom remain imprisoned but, once she was committed to the relationship, she would become the next victim. As soon as one tyrant was put in its place, another appeared. It only took a little while for all the would-be tyrants to join forces to try and recapture their lost territory. People with many different reasons can become allies to face a supposed enemy. People will fight hard not to lose whatever it was they got out of previously captured territory. Thomas did his part which was mostly just to stand there.  Eventually, it became obvious that Thomas and Kathleen weren’t conceding and so the enemies retreated. Thomas relaxed, thought the battle was over, and congratulated himself on doing a good job. That was a fatal mistake. The enemy simply bided their time, regrouped, and came in with a new approach. If you cannot win by insults, you can often win by compliments. Compliments can do what insults cannot. That was the beginning of the end.

They were not difficult battles for Kathleen. On her own, she could have handled them quickly. A no that means no is a formidable defence in any situation. However, she wasn’t on her own. When one helps another to fight their battles, the problem is generally not the thing that is fought so much as the person one is helping. For every house that was secured, Thomas would unwittingly open a door and two windows.  We have to learn how to defend ourself, our truth, our gifts and that which is precious to us. Don’t open the doors and windows to thieves of happiness. Thomas loved Kathleen as much as he could love any woman. He loved her but he loved his safety more.

Kathleen said to Thomas as soon as she felt he could bear to hear it, “If you cannot protect yourself, how can you ever protect me? You will let them destroy me rather than own your own truth.”

Harsh words. Truth is tough to hear. In the end, self-preservation kicked in and Kathleen left. They remained good friends. They had been friends so long, it was only natural.

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