"I hate him," I told Susan. I realized what I said. I began to cry.
"Hate's a strong word," Susan responded, writing on her lined, yellow pad.
"I know it is. It's how I feel."
"Why do you hate him?"
I thought for a moment, making sense of how I felt. "I hate him because he's gay. Because he put me through so much." I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. "He was gutless, that's what he was. He never stood up for himself. He let the other kids call him names. He let them punch and trip and hit him. He was soft and sensitive, always scared of being hurt physically. Why wasn't he tougher, like all the other little boys? Why didn't he fight back?"
"Is that what you think he should have done--fought all the other children who called him names, who hurt him physically?"
"Yes." I was emphatic. "That would have been better than taking it all, wouldn't it?" Susan scribbled on the pad. I pulled a tissue from the box beside me. "I wish he hadn't been born gay."
Susan sat quietly, the room silent. I heard a car speed up the street out front.
"I take that back," I continued. "I wish he'd been born in a world where it was all right to be gay."
"That's the point, isn't it," Susan said, smiling warmly. "It's not about the little boy. He was born that way. He had no choice in the matter. It was the world that didn't accept him." She paused. "Knowing this, can you now embrace that little boy, take him into your heart?"
"No, I can't." My answer was quick. "There's too much hurt. I've been through too much because of him."
Susan sat motionless in her large upholstered chair. "Do you think that little boy is at fault?" she asked. "Do you blame him?"
"I don't know." I shook my head. "All I know is what I've put up with all these years, how tough it's been."
Susan looked at her watch. "I see our time is almost up for today." Her voice was soft, soothing. I wiped my eyes with the tissue. "But I don't want that little boy to be left hanging until the next time. Since you can't accept him yet, I want you to leave him with someone or something that can. Who would you like to leave him with?"
I had no idea. What the hell was she talking about--leave him with something? He'd been left alone before. He'd been alone most of his life.
Then I had the answer.
"I want to leave him with a dog," I said.
Susan seemed pleased. "What kind of dog?"
I thought. "A German Shepard."
"Good choice. Now, I want you to imagine that little boy under the protection of a German Shepard. There he sits, his arms firmly wrapped around the dog's neck. The dog accepts him, unconditionally, in a way you can't now." I saw the little boy, hugging the large dog. "The next time we meet," Susan continued. "I want to work on uniting the little boy and you. Give some thought to what we discussed today. See if you can find space in your heart for him."
As I walked out of the large, old house that was now a professional building, I thought about that little boy and me, what it would take to bring us together.