We have a stunningly low threshold for discomfort. In life. In the four-minute line at the grocery store. In traffic. In relationships, too.
When the sweet honeymoon shimmer wears off and love gets tough, when sudden bumps appear in the road and threaten the silky-smooth ride we like so much, we stand at the ready to throw in the towel and run away screaming.
Maybe our worst fears feel confirmed—that this love won’t work out, that it can’t work out. Maybe our darkest thoughts of unworthiness gush inside like a torrential downpour, telling us that we aren’t lovable, after all. Maybe we just can’t freakin’ stand the thought of being vulnerable. Of getting hurt again. Of exposing our naked, writhing, imperfectly human hearts.
Whatever it is—if we can sit with that fear for a moment, for a breath, for an hour—
If we can feel the difficulty, the agony, the shame, the rejection, the sadness, the jealousy—
If we can sit with it all and breathe gently into it, without being utterly consumed by it—
We can go deliciously deeper.
We can create a more intimate and solid relationship than we ever dreamed possible. We can create a downright gorgeous love. We can also heal, transform, and ignite the hell out of our own lives.
Well, that’s entirely up to you.
But here’s a tiny tidbit from my personal experience—and I hope it just might resonate with your heart.
Last week, after my first fight with my fellow—you know, that dreaded first real fight, complete with raised voices, inky resentments, nasty glances exchanged, and a boatload of fear that crept suddenly between us like an impenetrable rock wall—I lay awake in bed. In shock.
Our oh-so-perfect love affair had cracked and given way into something much less appealing: reality.
My eyes were closed, my thoughts raced. My man lay beside me, half-sleeping as I half-slept, too. The bed was frozen. Our backs were turned sharply away from each other. No embraces. No kisses. No well wishes for sweet, sugarplum dreams. Only silence so palpable it hurt.
All I heard was a dog barking wildly outside, perhaps saying all the things that we could not.
I was certain, in that moment, that this love was crumbling, brick by brick. This was it, I thought to myself, as my heart pounded frantically. It’s over. Done. Finito.
But when we’re in a relationship, it’s inevitable that some wildly unpleasant crap is going to come up. It’s actually funny that we expect to not feel these things. Love, after all, is incredibly powerful. It is not the subtle, cute little babydoll thing we think it is.
Love has claws.
It will trigger us. It will touch absolutely everything we need to resolve. It will trickle directly inside to the darkest, most shame-soaked places that we don’t want to see. It will beckon our slimiest sh*t to come bubbling up to the surface—the things that we thought we “got over” will rear their ugly heads. Old, unhealthy patterns will come seeping in with quite a stormy vengeance.
This is good. This is juicy.
It’s a perfect time to dive in. To face it all. To tie up some loose, straggly ends. It’s a perfect time to feel. To heal.
Because if we don’t, all this muck will all be waiting for us, stored and stacked, for the next time we’re in a relationship.
And yes, it can be so tempting to run away.
I’ve run away a lot. I’ve thrown my hands in the air and said “F*ck you!” and stormed off in a thousand tornadoes of righteous indignation.
But I didn’t do that. Not this time.
This time, I did what seemed utterly impossible—I felt the feelings as they rose up and slid through me like currents of wicked electricity: hurt, disappointment, rejection. And those words are just words that sound so neat and tidy as they land on the page, but they represent feelings that felt as though they were writhing and screaming and unbearable and bloody.
Damn, it was impressive to see just how many of those writhing and screaming and bloody and unbearable feelings did not even belong to the current situation at all. Many of those wild emotions originated from unresolved past sh*t that I had packed tightly in a container in the far corners of my heart, hoping to never see again.
Well, here it was. Time to look. Time to not look away. So I sat with it all. I didn’t want to, but I did it anyway. Emotions whirred around me like vicious flies. Truth ripped through me like a pernicious blade. I lay awake hurting. Just hurting. But something inside me knew it was medicinal, that it was exactly what I needed.
And when I woke that morning, I didn’t feel better right away. I felt like I had been struck by a particularly large truck, I felt like there was angry poison sloshing around in my stomach.
I hated myself a little. I hated my man, too.
But, as I saw him laying there tangled in the covers, half-asleep, something inside me softened—I asked him if he wanted eggs.
He said yes.
So I made him eggs. With parsley. And cayenne sprinkled on top, too.
And even though we were still royally pissed off at one another, he smiled so sweetly as I handed him those eggs. I didn’t realize that gesture meant something really big.
Because I didn’t make him breakfast to please him, to appease him, to make everything all better—I did it because even though I hated him in that moment, I still loved him. I loved him enough to set my own sh*t aside, just for a tiny scrap of a moment. I loved him enough to see that this love is bigger than my own fear and insecurity. And he loved me enough to see it, too.
And that is love.
We didn’t make up in that instant—no, our pain wasn’t erased, nothing was made magically perfect—but it showed us both a glimpse of something so vital:
Love doesn’t just go away in moments of tension and unease. It doesn’t just evaporate in hours of gnarly discomfort. It doesn’t just downright disintegrate because our sh*t got brought up or we vehemently disagreed. Love can be made sweeter, juicier more real—it can be strengthened with every conflict, argument, apology and mistake.
Love does not fear those storms. Love does not shake in its knees.
Love weathers the storms.
And yes, there will be storms!
How else will our hearts bloom? How else will we learn the juicy lessons our souls thirst for? How else will we water our thirstiest roots and grow into the brilliant people we long to become?
Love can teach us so much—when it’s good and beautiful; when it’s hard and utterly unbearable, too.
Dive in. Dig in. Stay—when all you wanna do is run far, far away. Have the exact conversations you don’t want to have.
Feel the sh*t you think you can’t feel. Face the sh*t you think you can’t face. For that’s the juicy sh*t that can transform your entire life.
Be insanely, courageously, wildly vulnerable. Risk it all. Speak your deepest, darkest truth. Spill those secrets you’ve been holding onto.
Open up that glorious heart of yours—
Be really uncomfortable.
And then see how you soar.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Image: Samantha Jade Royds/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman