On Repairing Relationships

by | Jan 27, 2023 | Opinion Piece, Psychology | 0 comments

image: © Rhand McCoy

Repairing relationships. I know more about this than I’d like. And man, have I been getting schooled in this lately.

It’s painful, humbling, confronting, and if I could do anything else, I would.

It’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And

I’ve done it in every single significant relationship in my life.

In every significant relationship — my mother, my husband, my kids — I’ve experienced rupture, sometimes major rupture, and come back to deep, abiding, honest and fully-transparent love.

Healing rupture doesn’t always mean we stay IN the relationship.

There’s no guarantee about that what the healing will look like. Or — like the body — that the healing means a “cure”. A cure meaning that healing the rupture will result in a functional, happy, mutually-nourishing relationship.

But I know this about rupture and repair in relationships:

– Rupture is unavoidable. It’s part and parcel of being human. We fuck up. They fuck up. We miss the mark. They miss the mark. It’s going to happen.

The issue isn’t whether it happens, but who we show up as when it happens.

– Chronic rupture looks complex and specific to us — but Tolstoy was wrong about this (that all unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique ways).

Chronic rupture is about our mutual patterns. And while we can’t fix other’s patterns, we can change our own.

And when we shift our patterns in relationships we become the invitation for a new balance to emerge.

– It’s easier when the other person does their work, but — and this is a very big, nuanced but (as all the good buts are 🍑) — it’s possible to repair a rupture without the other person doing jack shit *and* not throw ourselves under the bus or “do all the work in the relationship”.

– Doing all the work in the relationship IS throwing ourselves under the bus, so to speak. And a guarantee of chronic rupture.

Read that again. If you do — or identify as doing — all the “work” in the relationship, you are guaranteed to experience rupture. A lot. Period.

– It takes a lot of emotional courage to engage in repair of a rupture. It takes a lot of emotional support. And loving reflection from a neutral (or neutral-loves-us) supporter.

And we NEVER ever ever repair ruptures for the other person.

This emotional courage that is required to come back from a rupture is always FOR us.

Courage is the experience of feeling and knowing and living from the previously un-plumbed depths of our heart. It is feeling into the endless expansive nature of our capacity to Love.

This is what repairing rupture offers us: The ability to be wowed by our own heart.

– It never gets easier. No matter how many times I fall on my sword, it always feels as piercing and as humbling.

Except every time I do it, I remember sooner to forgive myself, to honor my tender and imperfect heart, and to have my own back. Such that those moves have become my default. I got my own back; I can weather my own — or their — humanness.

– Rupture is an opportunity to remember how to live as someone on her own side, which is the side with no sides but Love.

It is a chance to feel beneath my stories — the things that actually keep me separate from another — and really and truly get free of them.

And if the other person can and will come along for the ride – amazing! And if not – amazing!

And, yes, filled with grief. But that is a non-negotiable aspect of Life, grief. It is one of the two poles, two arteries that feed the heart — grief and celebration.

So rupture and repair deepen our experience of being human. If we only know how to do rupture, we only live in the grief, and are half-human, in a way.

And if we avoid all rupture — and the person it is asking us to become in relationship to Love — we are also half the human we could be.

It is a tall order to engage in repair in relationship. I get it. Not everyone wants to. Not every relationship merits it. Not everyone is even capable of it.

But this is, I believe, why we are here. To live the fullest expression of our potential. To embody — such a hackneyed, cliched word now but is the most on-the-spot: to Get It in Our Body that it is safe to love. Safe to give love and safe to receive love.

We only learn this by navigating rupture and repair.


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