I’ve had many relationships over the years all with trials but none has been as impactful as my current one with my partner and that with my mom over our lifetime. I believe that our relationships can be outstanding teachers if we are in the right space to be a student. Otherwise, it becomes about blame game. Focusing on the other person’s shortcomings or how they’re toxic or and anything else that is not how we can learn about ourselves from that relationship.
Disclaimer *this is not talking about truly abusive relationships*
It feels like taboo to talk about thing like your relationship is hard but you both remain intentional about remaining in it but that’s why I think we should. There were so many things that have happened throughout our relationship that many people (and us) would say we probably should have broken up in our first year.
I had a lot of anger from a life filled with painful moments. I had grown up a specific way where we yelled, screamed, hit people, thrown things etc. I was always ready to rumble if I felt hurt. Ginele also came into the relationship with her unique set of conditioning. So yeah, it was tumultuous. When I met Ginele, I had just had a pretty nasty divorce a few months prior after 4 years of a pretty abusive relationship. Of course I loved Ginele, but I had conditioning that I hadn’t worked on. My favorite thing to say was I am who I am and if you don’t like it, oh well. While secretly, I felt ashamed of the ways I acted out. But after a year of utter chaos, the love I had for her and the love she had for me motivated me for the first time to see if I can change the way I expressed my emotions. Five years later, here I am, grown and healed in so many ways. And six years into our relationship, the lessons keep coming.
While there are things I desperately wish I could change in our history, I can honestly say that she has been the truest reflection of myself that I’ve ever had. It’s so hard to see yourself. It’s much easier to see someone else and tell them what they need to work on. Shifting from that to just seeing yourself, sitting with that revelation, accepting it, and looking for ways to gain new skills to help you navigate life and your relationships with more ease is life-changing work. Our culture has taught us to throw in the towel early. If it’s hard in a certain manner, or for a prolonged period, or in a recurrent way, it’s not meant to be. And while I’m sure the sentiment that love should be easy resonates with and is true for some people, it’s never resonated with me. I don’t know of any uncomplicated relationships. I’ve never seen that, and so I don’t relate. What I know though and have witnessed in my life is the magic that comes from using love as a catalyst to learn, evolve, grow and repair relationships that matter to us.
By Instagram standards, I should have disavowed my mom so long ago. We have a very difficult history filled with abuse and it was the worst relationship in my life for a really long time. But when I started therapy and just talking about and processing everything that I went through in her hands, I learned compassion for her and by extension for self. She did the best with the knowledge she had. She saw certain treatments that were incredibly harmful to me as normal. So, when I learned the skills of telling her how what she did affected me, the skills of setting boundaries with her, and her (unspoken) determination to do the work, our relationship changed for the better. And it’s still evolving to this day. I’m so glad I stuck it out with her. And that’s kinda how I feel about Ginele and I. It’s been so hard. We have traumatic memories that I’d rather not have. We’ve married, there’s been infidelities, we’ve divorced, there are trust issues, there’s still a fairly regular conversation about if we’ll make it. If perhaps the hurt is too much to overcome.
So, we work, we go to therapy, we fight, we cry, we threaten to leave weekly because it feels just so hard sometimes. But above all, we love. At least we try to. Our love is divine. We both truly feel that way. Our therapists marvel at what we have. Our mothers marvel at what we have. That love is worth fighting for. Even if we have spent most of it unhooking from and unlearning our respective conditioning. Literally just last week, she called me out on my tendency to use tears and my pain as an emotionally manipulate weapon. At first, I wanted to defend myself and talk about how that’s so not true. But I examined myself and came to the open acceptance that I do that. It was such a relief when I finally admitted it and let go of the shame that came from it. And so now I can begin the work of learning new skills and techniques to counteract that conditioning. Anyhow, this is a much bigger conversation that I can’t wait to have going forward with Ginele as my guest.