Falling apart is simple, effortless even.
Perhaps it comes so easy because it is so effortless. Want to ruin a meal? Be passive—let it overcook. Want to ruin a relationship? Invest no time—let it fall apart.
Making a mess and letting things fall to pieces is the easy thing to do sometimes. And that includes how we handle stress. It’s so much easier to fall apart than to hold ourselves together.
What if we could learn to fall together as easily as we fall apart?
I should clarify this: I’m not saying that relationships that fall apart did so because of a lack of effort. Hell, no. Some marriages ended because one person put in all the effort, and then that person figured out that saving a relationship alone never works, and decided instead to save themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with falling apart. We should cry if we need to cry or do whatever it is we need to do to express the wide range of human emotion we possess. This isn’t judgment about the effort we put into relationships or not holding ourselves together all the time.
So, what am I saying?
I keep thinking that if it’s so easy to fall apart, perhaps we can practice ways to make falling together easier.
An example: I’m in a relationship, and it’s the first truly healthy one I’ve been in. All of my “practice,” so to speak, with relationships has been conflict avoidance or disagreements that end in breakups. I’ve never had a relationship where conflicts get messy and also gets resolved.
It’s counter-intuitive for me, after years of experiencing men who lack the ability, or sometimes willingness, to deal with issues as they come up. I learned this incredibly maladaptive behavior where I catastrophize conflict—if there’s a challenge, it must be the end.
I’m lucky enough to be with someone with the patience of Job who understands that I struggle with this aspect of our relationship because of my history. Now, we practice communication and compromise. We practice committing to each other and working through issues as they come up.
I even overthink about overthinking. I’ve gone through so much and been okay, but there have been many times when I fell apart. And that was okay. It was what I needed at the time. But, I’m trying to learn how to fall together when I feel stress.
What if I could make that my default setting? What if I could figure out a way to reset myself when I start to overthink and fall to pieces? So, I meditate more and make time for daily exercise. I make myself drink water instead of soda or brew a cup of tea rather than making a cup of coffee. I do yoga and go for walks, and I try to be kind to myself in my thoughts. I’m trying to learn a new way of being so that when stress hits, as it inevitably will, I can do all the things that I know help me cope.
I don’t want to oversimplify this.
Of course, practice helps. I’m not saying that effort will always keep us from falling apart hold our relationships together. It will always be easier to come undone or to allow our relationships to unravel. Sometimes, what we need is to come apart, to have a cleansing cry, to feel what it is we feel—without judging ourselves for it. And, some relationships don’t deserve to be held together. Sometimes we find that the foundation was shaky in the first place, or the entire relationship was simply a mirage made up of our own desires.
I wish that when life’s challenges swept over us we were more easily able to sidestep the stress and embrace the idea of non-attachment, or simply learn to see things in a more philosophical light. Maybe we could all put a little more effort into our relationships. We could say thank you more to our partners for what they contribute to their relationship.
We can have days where we ignore the grouchy moods we experience, and, instead, look for something positive. We can remind ourselves of what we love. We can do little things to say we care, rather than letting the words carry the weight of our love. We can do this with our family, friends, and lovers.
And for ourselves?
We could make meditation a daily practice, and not just the thing we do when we’re overwhelmed with stress. We can incorporate yoga, tai chi, or qigong into our lives. We could exercise more and add a few more glasses of water to our day. We can make sure that we’re eating our fruits and vegetables and taking our vitamins.
We can try to balance our lives so that we make time for peace. Then, when we feel stress, we have a few extra ways of dealing with it so that we don’t feel like we’ve come completely untethered.
Maybe in the end it will still be easier to fall apart. But, I hope sometimes, we fall together instead.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Natalia Drepina/Deviantart
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman