Rupture, Repair, Repeat
I meet my therapist weekly. Naturally one of the most discussed topics between us is relationships. I have been having a very difficult time navigating through my relationship lately. I shared with her my recent frustrations I was having in my current relationship and even questioning if I would have been better off if I had stayed single.
“But… the love is real,” I sighed then slumping back on her cozy loveseat, “I just want to be able to love him freely.”
Having been single for awhile after a painful break up, I made a careful decision to get into a new relationship earlier this year. Truth be to be told unlike most relationships of my past, this new relationship started off a lot more challenging, albeit passionate, than the others. Yet a few months later we found ourselves in a bond we couldn’t easily walk away from.
Both of us are in our early thirties and have had our shares of past romantic experiences that shaped our current views of relationships. When we first met we bonded over the fact that we were two very grounded individuals who had been “working on ourselves” and happily single. I took pride in my holistic (me basically doing yoga twice a week) and healthy lifestyle (lots of kale) and he in his active social life and a new career move.
But life really is like a box of chocolates. The things that this relationship would bring into my life were so unexpected.
From the first time we met there was enchanting chemistry. For a reserved guy who claimed he didn’t like to talk on the phone, he stayed on the phone with me for hours on our first phone call. We shared intimate info from our past, connecting over our similar worldview and delved deep into our perspectives on the metaphysical. I’ve had some deep conversations with others before, but with him I truly felt he was on my level. When I hung up the phone with him that night, I told myself connections like this don’t occur out of coincidence. I shook my head smiling. I began to feel it again. Oh you know… that scary yet intoxicatingly fuzzy feeling called, you guessed it, love.
I love how intelligent he is. He’s a beautiful writer. I love his confidence and his curated style that belongs only to him. He has lots of fans, yes fans, because it turns out he is popular amongst the ladies for his k-pop idol flowerboy looks (“he looks like BTS mom,” according to my son). Unlike me he is organized and punctual. He is dedicated to his respect towards his family and friends, which shows me a person of integrity. He is always patient, taking the time to listen to all my random rants. He’s never held himself back from responding to me with supportive words delivered with caring sensitivity. He is by far the most thoughtful man I’ve ever met- and by that I mean replacing any household goods around my house before I could get to it just to make my life easier (as a busy single mom I realllly appreciate this)… or going out of his way to get my favorite fruit pastries on his way home from work. Then eventually he showed me his goofier side. Now I can’t imagine anyone else making me laugh into tears like he does.
Our connection deepened. More hidden parts of ourselves became unraveled to one another. This led us to feel increasingly more vulnerable in each other’s presence. Vulnerability is so crazy scary you know? I think Dr. Brene Brown discusses vulnerability best:
“The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.
This is where shame comes into play. Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think. When we’re fueled by the fear of what other people think or that gremlin that’s constantly whispering “You’re not good enough” in our ear, it’s tough to show up. We end up hustling for our worthiness rather than standing in it.” (source)
You would think two grown adults like us would have their shit together by now. After all those lessons we’ve taken away from our past relationships, some happy and some not so much, I thought we’d have practically become love gurus.
In actuality the innocence that we once had falling into new love was lost somewhere in our distant pasts. We found ourselves confronting the deepest and most uncomfortable parts ourselves, even all the way back into childhood. We re-examined what love meant to us and at times became bitter when our definitions differed. We even questioned our capabilities in being a suitable partner for the other. We began to painfully see (and point out) our most embarrassing flaws only to find ourselves drawing up the gates to our heart’s walls again.
And yet when the dust settled, I’d remember there have been just as many beautiful and fun moments too. In his absence I missed him more than anything and my heart would skip a beat when I’d think about him. Being with him has felt like being in a sweet and poignant indie romcom. In a course of less than a year we’ve done so much together- travelled abroad together, spent many tender nights together, seen our worst morning faces, made lots of inside jokes and created priceless memories together unique only to us.
“Let me ask you this Song,” my therapist said calmly looking intently into my eyes, “if you leave this relationship and find another one in the future, do you think you won’t be hurt again?”
I paused for a moment but shook my head, “no, not at all. I know I would be.”
“Real relationships are about rupture and repair. This dance repeats itself over and over again after a period of peace. Rupture, repair, peace, repeat. Over time this is how a relationship will strengthen. This is natural and what it means to have a real and healthy relationship,” she told me matter-of-factly.
Driving home after my therapy session that day I found myself thinking that despite all these tough moments between us so far, I felt deeply connected to this person more and more each day. Although I fear that he is the one person who could probably break my heart into a thousand pieces sometimes, I can’t help but to deeply appreciate all the beauty created between us. For this reason this relationship has become so valuable to me. To give it up now seems like a very heavy decision. For the first time in my life, I found someone worth being courageous for. Yes, even if it will end one day. Loving requires a lot of bravery you know.
It took me some time to catch up but I have come to render this person as precious to me. Thus I became more sensitive to all those “ruptures” that would pop up since I viewed as a threat to our relationship. My perspective was all wrong.
Now the relationships of my past seemed like child’s play compared to this one. This relationship was the realest. There have been ruptures yes but this relationship was sincere, real and evolving.
“Loving requires a lot of bravery you know.”
Oh damn, I thought to myself with my eyes wide, this relationship is real AF. We both work hard for one another, doing our best each day to tackle our personal issues that disrupt our peace. Both he and I make great efforts on becoming better versions of ourselves. We both booked ourselves into seeking therapy. We research ways to communicate better. We are learning about boundaries and trying our very best to listen to one another. Instead of leaning towards being defensive, now we practice patience. If this isn’t real love, I don’t know what is.
What was frustrating me was simply my lack of patience. All good things take time.
It’s time I recognize the organic nature of this rupture and repeat cycle. The truth is love is not magical. It is not the solution to rectify a troubled relationship. Love is a byproduct of repairs we’ve consciously chosen to make for our partner.
As I write this I hear “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette playing in the background somewhere, how ironic:
“Wear it out (the way a three-year-old would do)
Melt it down (you're gonna have to eventually, anyway)
The fire trucks are coming up around the bend
You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn
You grieve you learn, you choke you learn
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn
You pray you learn, you ask you learn
You live you learn”
And with that, I’ll sign out. <3