I’ll stand by you

Today I’m blogging about love, though not necessarily of the romantic kind.  Rather, the love that enables us to stand by someone who is depressed and try to just go through it beside them, instead of trying to persuade them out of it.

I know from personal and professional experience that this is very hard to do.  When someone we love is depressed, it’s so painful to see them suffer.  We feel as if we should be able to suggest or do something that will fix it, for their sake … and for ours.  It’s hard for us to tolerate their pain, and we’ll do almost anything to make it stop.  And if we can’t, sometimes in our despair we distance ourselves from them because we can’t stand it, maybe leaving them feeling even more lost and alone.

When we’re the one who’s depressed, oftentimes we know the things we should do to make us feel better … get out into the sun or nature, do something physical we enjoy, spend some time with trusted others, do something that helps someone else.  But the cruel irony is that the time we most need to do these things is the very time we find them hardest to do.

And yet, there is something that can help.  Knowing that someone is there for us unconditionally, who can bear our pain just as it is and not try to change it, can make all the difference.  This link, “A message to the depressed” from the young vlogger Sky Williams (no stranger to the black dog himself) sums it up beautifully.  It’s a couple of years old, and has a few million shares already … but I’ll bet there are still plenty of people who haven’t seen it who might find it helpful.

My favourite Pretenders’ song also puts it so movingly:

Oh, why you look so sad, the tears are in your eyes,
Come on and come to me now, and don’t be ashamed to cry,
Let me see you through, ’cause I’ve seen the dark side too.
When the night falls on you, you don’t know what to do,
Nothing you confess could make me love you less,

I’ll stand by you,
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you,
I’ll stand by you

So if you’re mad, get mad, don’t hold it all inside,
Come on and talk to me now.
Hey there, what you got to hide?
I get angry too, well, I’m a lot like you.
When you’re standing at the cross roads,
And don’t know which path to choose,
Let me come along, ’cause even if you’re wrong

I’ll stand by you,
I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you,
I’ll stand by you.
Baby, even to your darkest hour, and I’ll never desert you,
I’ll stand by you.
And when, when the night falls on you baby,
You’re feeling all alone, you’re wandering on your own,
I’ll stand by you.

I’ll stand by you, won’t let nobody hurt you,
I’ll stand by you, baby even to your darkest hour,
And I’ll never desert you,
I’ll stand by you.

Put a lock on it!

No, we’re not talking chastity belts for footballers and golfers (although, now that I think of it …)  I mean, if you are parents, even of young children, you need get into the habit of shutting your bedroom door regularly, and for extra peace of mind, you may want to lock it too.  Not just when you’re planning to make love (you don’t need to telegraph your intentions!), but at other times too.

Of course, a locked door is going to mean you’re both more likely to be able to relax and enjoy lovemaking, without fear of intrusion.  (Not that it’s the end of the world if one of the kids catches you “in the act”, they won’t be marred for life – just handle it with calm, age-appropriate reasurance).  But knowing you might be walked in on at any moment is not usually conducive to being able to really get into sex and let go; knowing the door is locked can make all the difference.  (Incidentally, if you’re worried about being overheard, why not make it a common occurrence to play music in the bedroom?)

So many parents nowadays seem to feel they should be available to their children 24/7.  I disagree.  Of course you need to be responsible and make sure your children are safe, but parents need and have a right to privacy and time out too.  I believe retreating together behind a locked door gives an important statement (to the kids AND to each other) that you as a couple value and protect the bond between you.  It also models good boundaries, which are healthy for everyone living together in a family.

So don’t feel guilty about prioritising private couple time.  What could be more important for children than that their parents nurture and invest in their own relationship?

Tonight in some way I loved you

I can tell by your walk , I won’t need to make small talk when we get home. Like ask your name and then promise to phone …

I found the lyrics to this song on “Affairs of the Heart” (Ralph McTell)  thought-provoking when I first listened to them on “You Well-Meaning Brought Me Here” in the mid 1970s.  Listening to the song again this morning , I still find myself with more questions than answers.

Why is it that some of us seem to be able to enjoy sex as a purely recreational activity, akin to playing a game of tennis with someone (only better!), whereas others of us seem to need a sense of connection, or meaning, to make sex feel good? 

The traditional answer is that men compartmentalise sex and love, whereas women don’t; but this isn’t my experience, personally or professionally.  I see women who enjoy anonymous and/or purely recreational sex, just as I see men who have been hurt by casual sex, or who feel pressurised to get into a sexual relationship far earlier than they’re comfortable with.

So what is it that makes us different in this respect?  Why is it that some people can’t have sex without feeling as though something significant, bonding even, has occurred; whereas others don’t seem to experience that?  Is it to do with the meaning each of us ascribes to sex, which informs our experience?  Or something more fundamental? 

And how easy/common is it to move between the two camps?  In order to be able to enjoy sex where the only meaning is pleasure and enjoying the moment, do we need to ‘ switch off’ something inside us that gives us the potential for sex to feel more meaningful?  And conversely,  if we only enjoy connected or meaningful sex, are we missing out on something that those who “can do casual sex” are able to experience?

I can tell by your smile that tomorrow you will not think that it’s been worthwhile, and I don’t know what to say, to prove it need not be that way.

I can tell by your crying, you’d only think I was lying if I said what I know to be true – that tonight in some way I loved you. That tonight in some way I loved you.