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About six hours after the above picture was taken, my partner and I had a 𝐬𝐮𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐥 spat. Not full-blown screaming with pots and pans being thrown, but it was enough of an argument for me to retreat, shut down, and wonder how we got so low, after a highly positive afternoon.
One moment, we were out enjoying the elusive Danish summer with dear friends, and the next we were going in circles trying to make the other person cower or agree with us, or just give up. These "fights," or rather "tough conversations" never feel great, and I often find myself defeated, drained, and frustrated just at the idea that my partner and I aren't on the same page.
I used to approach disagreements with a sense of foreboding, thinking it was a sign of the end. I used to believe that it represented a failure on my part, and that it predicted a downfall in some way. I had been stuck in the incredibly debilitating pattern of seeing any hiccup as an immense failure, and became so fearful of the mild possibility that I would find myself in a dispute.
"We have the choice to either run from fear, or run into it and come out with a new tool, a new perspective, a new sense of gratitude."
When I wasn't ignoring this feeling of constant retreat, and consistent peace-making, I was convincing myself that I was doing good by avoiding conflict, that I was just "being the bigger person" by not engaging. And though that is partially true, what grew was my realization that I wasn't being better by cowering and "not ruffling any feathers"; I was just hiding. I was hiding my true nature, my emotions, my beliefs, and my deepest thoughts. I was silencing myself, because I was scared that an argument was just plain 'bad', and that there couldn't ever be positive coming from such a negative conversation.
I feel like this is how most of us approach any abrupt challenge that comes our way. We meet it with fear that its presence is a sign of defeat, and not an opportunity for growth. We see RED and think it's a sign to "panic," rather than "pay attention."
We keep ourselves guarded, so we'll never have to feel unease again, believing conflict is always for the bad. Because how could something 'bad', ever be for a 'good' reason?
But if there's anything I've learned from being in a dedicated six year relationship (and from being a human trying to improve and grow), it's that conflict and struggle does not come to defeat us, it comes to show us how strong we are; it's here to highlight that there is a weak link in the chain of life that we need to focus on repairing.
"Behind every fear and failure is a lesson"
I am always reminded of this lesson following one of these couple spats, because both my partner and I always come out of them feeling stronger and more connected than ever. We're able to embrace that shit is "not cute" at the current moment, and even when emotions are high, we can come down, and see that this "disconnect" was exactly what we needed to progress to the next level of our relationship.
So I ask you, where are you avoiding conflict, just to prevent being shaken up a bit? When are you swallowing your words not to "rock the boat" or lying just to "keep the peace'?
I guess the biggest question is,
𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐧 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐞, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐭 "𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧" 𝐨𝐫 "𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐥" 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞?