Relationships are hard

Relationships are hard.

I’m no good at them.

Well, that’s what I tell myself when I find myself caught up in another messy interaction.

Are relationships hard or is it the people in them that make them hard?

You can’t have a relationship without people! So, it must be the people?

In my relationships, I think maybe it’s me?

I used to believe that anyway. I used to be so convinced I was the instigator of all that was wrong in my relationships that I was lost as to how to be a better person for the good of the relationship.

When I say relationship, I’m not just talking about the coming together of two people who decide to create a life together in a spousal environment. Is it that plus any other type of relationship we have with another person. Friendship. Family. Work colleagues. Acquaintances. All of those fun and frustrating interactions.

From the moment we are conceived we begin a relationship with the one whose tummy we reside in. Our mother. She feeds us via the umbilical cord, we hear her voice and the voices of other members of the family as well as friends and anyone else she speaks to as she goes about her day. Then we are born, and the relationship really begins. In one way or another.

As a newborn, relying on the people who brought you into the world, there are needs that have to be met. It is their responsibility to feed you, bathe you, dress you, take care of you, interact with you, attend to your cries and hopefully (HOPEFULLY!) love you with all of their heart.

Love sometimes isn’t enough. The love may be there but it can be forgotten when the raising of a child becomes tough. When all that life entails becomes overwhelming. When the past still haunts every word, every thought, every action and every feeling.

The relationship changes.

It isn’t about what’s best anymore. It is about survival. Surviving every moment as best as it can be whilst doing what needs to be done to get through the day.

The development of the relationship is no longer a priority.

It gets lost amongst the debris of another day.

Parents were once children, too. They were once teenagers and young adults who had life to learn about and life to figure out. Then they have kids of their own, and the stuff they have been trying to make sense of becomes harder sill because now there is a responsibility for someone else’s life. To hopefully (fingers crossed) not fuck them up the way they have been fucked up.

It’s a pressure that wants to release but it can get stuck with no way of knowing how to release it without exploding over everyone.

Relationships are multi-dimensional. Are they ever taken at face value? Can they be taken at face value?

Whatever the relationship may be with the ones we call parents, it affects how we connect and communicate with every other relationship we enter into.

My initial relationships were not great. Paving the way for a very rocky and unstable set of relationships.

But really, though, the worst relationship I have ever had has been with myself.

If I can’t have a kind and loving relationship with myself then how the fuck do I know how to be that kind of person with another person?

I ruined all the interactions with myself by hating myself, abusing myself with food, feeling worthless and believing I was not deserving of anything good in this world. Not a fun way to live!

My mind was a cacophony of emotional and mental trauma. Trauma I concluded was the result of events and experiences that were seen through the eyes of a naive and clueless young girl. Piling one false perspective on top of a distorted observation on top of an incomplete opinion. And, with no supportive or reassuring relationship to turn to, I had to assume my own judgment was the correct one.

Gosh, was I wrong about all of it.

Relationships are hard. There is no doubt about that. Especially when you now have two (or three or four) people conversing with one another and bringing all of their stuff into the conversation. Is there ever a conversation where there is no stuff?

There is one main element to the juxtaposition of the relationship between two people and that is why they are conversing in the first place. What has brought them together to speak the words they want to speak?

Underneath that why holds the next two very important parts to this intended communication. Listening and dialogue.

Is one more important than the other? In my opinion I believe listening is more important than the dialogue, mainly because by listening to the words being spoken there is less interference with the approaching words. Each word is uttered from a place only the teller can truly understand. When those words reach the ears of the listener, the listener then interprets those words from the world they have created inside of them. Their past experiences, thoughts, feelings and understandings of the life before them.

It’s complicated. Relationships are hard. They’re hard because the interaction has too much baggage attached to it. The baggage I held onto was akin to that of moving day. Boxes and bags strewn about everywhere.

With each socialisation, I rifled through these boxes and bags to find out how best to deal with what was going on in front of me. What reference could I find to make this connection one I wanted to ignite? Or sometimes diffuse.

I was well aware that none of my baggage held any suitable reference for me to utilise when I so desperately needed it. I only had other impossible and difficult dealings from which I could guide myself through. Meaning another moment of the relationship resulted in me feeling shitty about myself and how I dealt with it all.

Inside my head thoughts attack me as I encourage myself to be a better version of myself than the one I normally am. The same old feelings well up inside me and I feel overwhelmed with NOT fucking it up. Sometimes I can overcome it. Sometimes it overcomes me.

As I become better friends with myself, I do hope that I am becoming better at being friends with the people I enjoy being around. But, do they enjoy being around me? Do they even really like me? Are they just humouring me and don’t actually care about what I’m saying? Gosh. I really do sound like a boring person. Who wants to listen to that? I should just stop talking. Are they thinking about how fat I am? Are they secretly wishing I would just go away? Why am I not as smart as they are? Why am I so hideous? What is wrong with me? Are they looking at my huge, disgusting thighs? This is why I suck at relationships. Nobody wants to be around me, anyway.

The thoughts are exhausting. The feelings accompanying them are unbearable.

Most of my life I have believed the state of my relationships to be all my fault. I have put the weight of responsibility square onto my shoulders. Dragging me into one exchange after another.

Many of my relationships have ended. Friends I dearly adored have been lost to me forever. I have ruined more than one with my self-loathing and self-deprecating behaviour.

Yet.

There is a responsibility on their end, too.

Looking back I can see where I’ve gone wrong and I can also see where they were ineffective at their side of the relationship. It really is a two way street.

I struggle to this day with how to be in a relaxed and easy relationship. I make it too hard. I am instantly worried about how I am and how I am coming across. Am I being attentive enough? Am I being kind enough? Am I being generous enough? Am I being a good listener? Am I being selfless enough? Am I caring enough?

So, even though I am well aware of who I am in my relationships now, I have the ultimate task of letting all of the bullshit go and just being comfortable and natural with myself. That intuitive part of me is better at being me than I am. I allow too much stuff to get in the way. Which is why my relationships are hard.

Putting pressure on myself to perform is not going to help. I don’t have to be anyone but me.

Same goes for the other person. I cannot, with my minds judgemental power, create an interaction that is only to my liking. I cannot expect the other person to work for me so that it makes me feel better. That is my job. Understanding and knowing that their inner world can be just as fucked up as my inner world helps me to see our interaction as one of fun and joy. And, those interactions where there may be a little heat rising, I can choose to remain as myself and not let the heat ignite my anger.

Its is sad to say but some relationships are meant to end. Some are meant to be only for a short while. I cannot control the narrative on all of my relationships. That is too much of a burden to carry. And, when relationships end, or are put on pause, I can only go within and figure out how best to keep going. What can I lean about myself from this particular relationship? How can I do better? How can I remain on the path to accepting and loving myself as I am so that I don’t fall down and become trapped by the other persons reasons and rationales?

We may not agree but I can respect their point of view.

As long as I am genuinely staying true to who I am underneath all of the bullshit, then I know I can continue to manage my remaining relationships with all the love and kindness I have been building inside of me.

And, of course, whenever those sneaky mean and horrible thoughts come creeping back into my mind, I lovingly tell them to

SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Here is your exercise for this week.

Have a think about the relationships you are in now and the ones you have had in the past? How have they been? Is there something connecting them all in the way you behave in them? Ask yourself why that behaviour is there. Take some time to look deeper at the thoughts and feelings associated with your relationships. Write them down and wonder if they are true or not. What would you like to improve about your relationships? What would you like to improve within yourself to make them better?

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