i used to think a healthy relationship meant zero conflict.
we all lived happily ever after.
except that’s false.
i watched a YouTube video by a therapist who reacts to movies with his director friend, a year ago. they were speaking on a movie about sisters and how healthy the relationships were. i remember being shocked. you know one of those moments where you’re so taken aback that your brain shuts off and expands to include the entire freaking universe simultaneously? like you were wearing blinders and POOF blinders gone.
the therapist commented on how the sisters and parent argued and fought and did mean things to each other. but what was important wasn’t the rupture. it was the repair. and they repaired their conflicts very well. with real intent.
now, of course, i’m not saying (and neither was the therapist) that this means a green light for abuse and all that. the comments were within the context of the relationship on screen, in which there was no abuse.
but that’s EXACTLY why it confused me. i’d been in therapy and listening to people with much more wisdom and experience than me for seven years when this truth hit me. and it had never occurred to me that conflict did not equal abuse. it was one of those running in the background beliefs that i hadn’t realized was still there.
the truth is, conflict happens. there is no way you can put two people in a room, have them live together in any sort of relationship long term, and have them NOT run into conflict on some scale. we’re all too different for that to be possible. we come from different backgrounds, cultures, upbringings, brainwashing, schooling, etc. we have differing likes, dislikes, tastes, dreams, ideals, and so on. and that’s kinda the beauty of life. so why do we expect that we’ll get along perfectly?
i’m really starting to hate that word: perfect.
it creeps in when i’m not looking and takes over. but it’s a phantom. a creeping thing easily crushed by the reality of life and love and actual hard work and effort. there’s no such thing as perfect. and that goes for relationships too.
my relationships improved IMMENESLY after this really sunk in.
i have my boundaries, my no-go zones, and healthy standards. but i no longer fear or worry over conflicts. i no longer lie awake, terrified that i’m a bad person or simply failing at my relationships because i haven’t “figured out” how to be healthy enough to not have conflict.
yes, the conflicts are, oddly enough, a lot less in quantity and size. yes, they’re worked through with surprising ease. and yes, they still happen.
because i’m human. the wonderful people in my life are human. and i no longer expect anything to be perfect. i simply expect us to focus on repair, honestly, lovingly, because we matter to each other.
and what do you know? life got a lot easier in this area. like i could release, let go of that clenched breath i kept held in, on a daily basis, for… well, ever since i can remember.
it gave me and the people i love the space to be human, make mistakes, learn on the way. it gave a lot of grace.
it amplified my love and trust, as well.
there’s magick in talking with one another. about the darkness, the icky things, the shame, the embarrassment.
talking with trusted people is magick. i’ll repeat it twenty thousand times! because how many times are we shamed into silence? threatened into silence?
we shy away from it, vulnerability a hulking neon sign of FEAR, SHAME, REGRET that looms in our hearts when we think about talking. and it makes sense. these are THE THINGS. the scary things. the things that matter most.
that’s why it matters WHO you talk to. but we really do need each other. (that’s scary to say. to think. to type.)
we need each other. in reality. not wearing masks. not hiding behind our neon signs. raw. with the people we know we can trust (because they’ve earned that trust). raw, honest, with ourselves.
neon signs are pretty. but these ones keep us in chains, on the bottom of a cold, hard floor, everything we desire out of reach.
we need each other. because we need the magick hiding inside of love, of trust, and of connection.