Any living thing you feed will grow and strengthen, and anything you starve will die. This includes relationships. If you don’t put any effort or energy into it, it won’t sustain itself, and that happens all the time; that’s why our divorce rate is so incredibly high. A relationship is a living, breathing thing that exists in the space between two people. It’s a third thing, a singular creation that could never have occurred without the intersection of two particular lives.
I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, but also familial ones, close friendships, acquaintances, colleagues, strangers. Two people come together and each one contributes something. If you put your boredom, frustrations, rage, thoughtlessness or fear into the space between you and another person, that’s a choice you’re making. No one is perfect, and no one is going to choose well, or operate from their highest selves in every moment. Sometimes we’ll regret our contribution. That’s when the words, “I’m sorry, I blew it” are brilliant. If you’re in pain, chances are you’ll spill some of that into the space between you and the people in your life. You won’t mean to do that, it’s just natural that we spread whatever is within us. This is why your healing process is so critical. It’s not just something you do so you can be a peace within yourself, it’s a gift you give to everyone you encounter. When you’re filled with love, you’ll spill that, too and you won’t have to be sorry about it.
The thing is, it’s easy to point fingers and hard to look in the mirror sometimes. You can blame the other party if things aren’t going well, or you can choose to try adding something new to the mix. Maybe your lover or friend or mother or brother has been careless with you, or neglectful or cruel. If we’re talking about abuse, you create as much physical and emotional space as you can between you and the person who’s in that kind of pain. Short of that, you could just try a different approach. You can teach people how you want to be treated by example. You could plan something special for no reason, even if you feel the other person doesn’t deserve it. Sometimes we shut ourselves down or close ourselves off. We erect barriers because the pain has become so great we don’t know what else to do but defend ourselves against it. Walls shut out the love, too. They close off the possibility for understanding, connection, intimacy. That’s not sustainable; being in a relationship where you feel unseen, unheard and unloved is so much worse than being on your own, but sometimes we give up too soon, and miss a huge opportunity to grow.
Growth hurts. This is why we have the term “growing pains.” Blame is easy. Making ourselves right, feeling victimized, bitter, resentful, those are all stances we can choose to take, but curling up with your righteousness isn’t comforting. Making yourself powerless is draining, not inspiring. You can’t control other people, or save them or make them happy. Each person has to do her or his own journey, but you can grab someone’s attention by doing something loving and unexpected, and maybe they’ll feel so grateful, they’ll see it doesn’t take much, and they’ll grab your attention next time. That’s generally a better way to go than a constant stream of criticism. Most people will not be able to take that in after awhile. Instead of listening to you with the intent to understand, they’ll shut down or storm off or go on the defensive, and you might have discovered people on the defensive have their hands up. They don’t outstretch their arms. I’m not saying you shouldn’t communicate honestly, because of course you need to do that. I’m just saying if that hasn’t been working, try something else, something completely different. Just to see. We all just want to feel like at least one person is getting us. At least one person has our back, accepts our flaws, celebrates our beauty, cherishes us. Of course we can all have at least one person in ourselves, but connection between two people is some of the best stuff in life.
When people stop feeding the space between them it becomes empty. The roots dry up, and the plant shrivels and dies. There’s no bond left, eventually. There’s just painful history, defense mechanisms, anger, justifications, and attachments to a particular version of the story of what went wrong, and it isn’t easy to come back together at that point. It won’t save every relationship, but the more you decide to offer love, the more it will blossom up around you. You can’t control what other people will want or say or do, but you can work on the way you show up, and what is is you give. You have a gorgeous heart that was built for love. If you’ve erected walls around it, you can tear them down, too.
Sending you love and a hug,
If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here <3