It's been a week already since Blair learned of his mother's death, but I still haven't managed to get him to talk about it with me, and much less got him to tell anyone else. He has desperately avoided the issue ever since I forced him to say it out loud. Simon gave us a week off to work things out, but I'm beginning to suspect that it won't be enough. I know I have managed to break some barriers, but it's been a struggle. I can understand my partner a little better now, and the truth is that I don't like the picture that seems to be emerging. Some things I should have noticed before but I didn't, maybe because I really didn't want to see, others I simply missed because I had never even thought of them as possibilities.
Maybe the fact that he thought it safer to hide the fact that his mother had died because it enabled him to pretend that I'd care, rather than run the risk of telling me and discovering that I didn't should have told me something, but even that failed to prepare me. I knew about all the moving around, the traveling and so on. Over the years I had managed to get him to disclose some facts about his past, but I never realized just how edited those disclosures were. I am not that naive, I did know that there was something else that he was hiding and I thought I was ready, but I wasn't.
I had always suspected that there was something dark behind the happy childhood memories he was eager to share of major league games, and basketball play offs. I suspected that he had been hurt by Naomi's revolving door boyfriends. Boyfriends who used him to get what they wanted and then forgot all about him. From what he told me I gather that he was quite young when he figured out what was happening, but I keep wondering what kind of damage those encounters did before he was old enough to understand what was going on, before he could figure out how to cope. I guess there are some questions I won't find answers to, but the ones I've been able to find have been enough. I know he is still lying to himself. He can acknowledge that he pretended in front of strangers because deep down he knew they wouldn't care, but when it comes to Naomi he insists he did it to protect her because the truth would have hurt her... there may be some truth to that statement but I know it is not the whole truth. I also know that this is not the time to confront him with that knowledge.
At least for now it seems that acknowledging the origins of his own obfuscations is the lesser of two evils for my partner. He is not ready to talk about Naomi's death so everything else is suddenly preferable to that, and I can't help but feel guilty. I know that in a sense I am using his pain to break through his defenses, but it needs to be done and I don't think I'll ever get another chance.
In a sense what I've heard is not as awful as what I had sometimes imagined... in a sense it's been much worse, and I know there are still other things that are hidden beneath the surface. I wouldn't have been terribly surprised by a tale of abuse. I am a cop and as such I am very familiar with more statistics pertaining to child abuse than I care to remember, and with those numbers in mind it wasn't hard to figure out that a child whose mother had so many short term relationships, who was moved around as often as Blair was and who was left with friends and acquaintances on a regular basis for long periods of time, was unlikely to have escaped the whole experience totally unharmed. What I wasn't ready for, even if I should have been, was for the fact that some incidents of neglect made other forms of abuse seem all but irrelevant. It was difficult to contain my shock when he made that offhand comment about the fact that getting hit was not so bad, just a matter of grinding his teeth and waiting for it to be over with, but I think I understand. Even as a child he had already figured out that those people had no power over him other than their brute strength, that they couldn't touch him where it really mattered unless he let them, and he had no intention of giving them that kind of power. He may have been incredibly bright, but I wonder what was the price he had to pay to keep himself safe because there was no one else he could rely on.
My own childhood was far from perfect, but at least I had friends in school, a home I believed would always be there, a little brother to protect and Sally. In spite of the fact that my father was never one for coddling and my mom was gone, when I came home from football practice Sally was there to make sure that all scrapes were properly treated. She was there to notice when I was sad and she always had a kind word or a piece of pie to make it better, to make me feel safe. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be seven years old and to have to try and hide the fact that I had been beaten up just to be able to pretend that the people I was living with would have cared if only I had told them about it, but weren't helping me because I hadn't.
As we talked tonight I found myself biting back my words more than once. I listened, but I didn't dare to speak, especially not now, when he is trying to come to terms with Naomi's death. I knew that my words would only cause him pain, so I struggled with my anger as best I could, knowing that right now I have to be there for him. Right now he needs me even if he cannot bring himself to ask for help.
It takes different skills to know how to make friends, how to be a friend and how to have a friend. In order to survive Blair had to learn how to make friends early on, that was never a problem, and because of who he is he also learned how to be a friend, but what I failed to realize is that he never had a chance to learn how to have a friend.