I know you’ve heard those words of wisdom, at least in reference to crossing streets. I’d like to put a new spin on it for you and encourage you to look both ways before crossing your partner.
Remember first that you are with them for a reason, hopefully many reasons. One of the reasons is because they get you. Most of choose someone who understands us, and knows us like no one else. Sometimes they can see us when we can’t even see ourselves.
I’m the first to admit that I am stubborn and I usually start off every argument sure that I’m right and it is just a matter of proving it. In my head it sounds like this… “Once I state my case I can go on my merry way of doing things the way I do them. They’ll see that I was right all along.”
I have often fallen into the trap of preparing my evidence rather than listening to the other side and the perspectives of those who matter to me. Listening can be difficult when I’m on a mission to prove myself right. And I find the hardest thing to do is to stop talking and hear how I am being perceived by those I love. But eventually I do it and I call that looking both ways, my way and their way.
I know their way matters. I respect their way of seeing things, it is one of the reasons I chose them to be in my life. They are smart, observant and they shoot straight with me. Yes it hurts. The truth always does.
It’s not in my best interest to cross them and walk around being right all the time. It’s not in yours either. Look at the loves in your life. How and why did you let them in? Is it safe to be you? When they call you out on something is it out of love and their hope for you to be accountable and be your best? For you to grow and be more of who they learned to love in the beginning? If so… look both ways before crossing your partner.
“I want you to undo it.” That’s all I could think to say in the midst of my pain. I knew it was not a fair request. I knew it could not be undone, but it’s all I had left. I was grasping just trying to stay in the moment because I knew what was coming next. It’s the act that always follows me getting hurt. In this act there are three scenes.
Scene 1: Self-hatred. The beating begins. The other person caused the pain but I take the beating. What’s worse is I do the beating. “How could I be so stupid? How did I let this happen? How did I get fooled once again? If I were smart, I would have listened to my gut.” The questions and the self-loathing go on for days. I usually stop about the time my eyes are ready to swell shut from all the crying. It’s then that the last harsh words are internalized, the curtain closes and I wait in anticipation of the next scene.
Scene 2: The lesson. So help me God if I don’t learn something from this pain. I cannot and will not just get hurt. There has to be a lesson in here somewhere. And the meaning-making begins. This part lasts even longer which I guess is a good thing. The lessons are always different and the experience changes with every hurt but I can tell you what happened this time. With the drop of the last tear my head cleared and I heard my own mantra… “This is what it means to be with me.” Here was an opportunity to say it again, the chance to be authentic knowing that every person has the choice to take me or leave me. I began the conversation in my head, gathered my thoughts, my questions, and challenged myself to stay focused. The most genuine and heart felt talks followed. It was the kind of “real” I have always wanted. As time passes and the play continues, I am learning to be a much better communicator. I can articulate my values and my deal-breakers in one breath. You’d be surprised how few people can do this. I can disagree without raising my voice. This is huge. I used to be a class act yeller and I hated it. There were lots of long nights and sore throats in the past, but not anymore. Now I can be bold and ask for what I need. Best of all, because I know myself so well, I can really listen. I don’t have to prepare my next argument while the other person is talking. I get to listen and really try to understand where they are coming from. What I have found is that when I practice empathy, it rewards me with a level of knowing someone that does not come any other way. We talk, we bond and the curtain closes on scene two.
Scene three: Thank you. Without the pain I would not know joy. Without the test, I would not study myself. Without you I would not grow. Without you I would never know the magnitude of true love.
It took a while you know. This play used to only have one scene, and after enough years of beating myself up I figured there must be a scene that followed. There had to be more.
And so as all good stories go, this one too, has a happy ending. I’m grateful for the lessons and grateful for the silver lining of this and every other dark cloud that has hovered over me in this lifetime. I am ready for an encore!