Not so long ago I sat down in front of my boyfriend at a restaurant to share our favourite meal together. Butter Chicken! Such a substantial part of our relationship. We were out celebrating an occasion. We had reached a cheesy 8-month milestone in our relationship. Cute! I know, but this is the longest relationship I have been in since I was 16. I am just about to turn 31. So I was celebrating fiercely, papadums and all.
As we begun the eager waiting after placing our orders, we filled up our glasses with sparkling water and I leaned in and struck a conversation with him that went something like this;
“My Love, I had a few revelations today!” “Oh! Really? What about?” he asked. I said “I realised that I actually haven’t liked our relationship during the last 7 months.” Silence. Scanning eye contact. Can you imagine how unsuspecting that would have been at an anniversary dinner? But I allowed that awkward tension to sit there with us for those few stretched seconds before I went on to explain my somewhat perplexing view on our relationship.
I continued on to say that “I haven’t enjoyed our relationship very much and I have found it very hard.” More silence (and a sip of water). “BUT, I have loved YOU!” and then I heard the exhale and watched the corners of his mouth gradually release into a smile. I admit, I knew where I was heading when I started the conversation so I grabbed at a little cheeky fun in my approach. Even so, what I continued to discuss with him was the reality of relationships, of our relationship, and the opportunities it has presented. Most of which have come disguised in fear, insecurity, vulnerability and very difficult work.
“Sometimes we are taken into troubled waters not to be drowned but to be cleansed”
– Author Unknown
You see, I found the process of settling into a relationship quite severe. Maybe that sounds a bit morbid but I must be honest. The process of opening your heart to someone has been terrifying and it often has felt like drowning in troubled waters. But why? I believe it is because close, honest, authentic relationships give you the opportunity to face your own heart, your thoughts and your beliefs about yourself and how you actually view other people.
I have cried that much that it seems I could have drowned in the pool of tears sometimes around me. Tears that have come not from him hurting me (despite how much I tried to blame) but rather from me being afraid of genuinely uncovering the truth about myself. Am I really this fearful? Am I really this envious? Why? Do I really react like this? Am I emotionally healthy? stable? Is this who I really am? Am I honestly going to sabotage this? Can things change? Can I do this? Horrible questions that scared me and I started to push away. I didn’t like what the relationship was showing me about myself. It felt so uncomfortable. I disliked the experience immensely .
Looking back 8 months later, I can begin to understand that when these terrifying, self confronting questions come up, and they will. In whatever relationships we find ourselves in, whether that be romantic, friendship, work or business related or community based. Relationships will draw ourselves out of our internal hiding places and they will demand that we respond to the situations we found ourselves in.
Often when times get testing and the heat of tensions escalate we can look outward for our fundamental explanations about what is going on and why we feel the way we feel. We are human. We seek understanding. Something, though, that I have learned to bring more peace and quicken restoration to the shaken stages of our relationships, is to look inward. To bravely begin answering the truth telling questions about ourselves, and to ourselves. It is personal. It is liberating. It is opportunity.
I believe, even though trying times can be exhausting and that life can be really complicated and that some circumstances cant be easily explained, that relationships can not chip or tear away at us when we are seeing them as opportunities. Even the most difficult and challenging relationships in our world can influence our personal growth and development.
I have seen that relationship offers opportunity to understand and develop ourselves into better people, to live better by improving our responses to life. Nothing is perfect but I seen that relationship gives us the opportunity to observe and to consider who we are willing to become and then offers us opportunity to choose who we want to be.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens another.
Keep Brave, Stay true.