I am thinking about conflict. I took a long workshop a few years ago called The Magic of Conflict and thought that because of the lack of improvement in my rocky ex-relationship, it had been a waste of time. I realize now that I was wrong.
It makes me think of my current marriage. For a decade, I’ve been waiting for the avalanche, that thing that has always happened in my past — breakdowns that can/should/might lead to breakthroughs. Somehow they always seemed to feel like that ton of bricks. The Oh My God, Here It Comes Again, followed by pain, fear, shrinking back, hiding, lying, then going back to sleep and never getting better inside my own darkness.
Oddly, things are different now. When did this happen? Facing that deep-seated (or deep-seeded) fear of conflict. I realize now that I held back because of the fear of what I WOULD/COULD DO. I was afraid of myself. I would lose control, I would hurt someone, destroy a relationship, say something that I didn’t mean or didn’t want to say. I scared the crap out of myself! Was I capable of this? Yes, indeed I was. I actually could be a monster, just like…my drunk, cornered dad, my overwhelmed, frightened mom. Yes, indeed I was.
What did I want to do? I wanted to scream. Not at anyone, but at myself. Yes, my anger is big, it is powerful, it is old and it is young. What made me angry? That I wasn’t good enough and someone would find out.
Wow, I’m back to that, am I? That “not enough” place? It’s the core issue for me.
So, intimacy for me threatened that mirage of perfection (as if that were even true), that mask I wore of capability. My over-functional self wanting to always prove worthiness.
Some months ago, as I sat in front of my shaman after my second journey, I faced that mask, stared her down. Holding a mirror in front of my face, I looked into her eyes, that One who so proudly walked this earth, pretending. As I looked at her, the pride melted away, the mask merged with the face I wear underneath. I cry now as I think of her — fragile, concerned, fearful, unsure. Her eyes looking decades older, her lines prominent then in the afternoon light.
Who was she, this One Who Knew the Truth? She, who holds all my secrets. She, who holds no compassion for me, who pretends she doesn’t notice, who lies every minute.
I forgave her. I forgave her for being weak, imperfect, klutzy, strong, powerful, inspired, aware, all of it. I forgave her for her trespasses. I forgave her for the bad judgments and the mistakes, the litter and garbage, shreds of herself she left behind in hers/mine and other people’s lives. Is she forgivable? Can she be just good enough with all those faults? When can I laugh at them? When can I own them and not hide them and lie about them?
What has changed in my relationship with My Music Man is quite remarkable and hope resides warmly in my soul. It is the stark knowing that the lies I tell myself about me are sometimes seen by other people anyway. It is that now that I have seen I cannot turn away. It is the wonderful curse of “The Garden” with the Tree of Knowledge, once bitten… Know Yourself. Heal Yourself. I am learning that the conflict I often face comes from my not getting something that I want. It is between me and me. The other person is just a catalyst.
My Music Man and I have revealed so much in these 10+ years of who we are. We were truly dunked in the fire and like the phoenix-bird, we are emerging in another form. Testing comes from honest and sincere confessions. Acceptance. We have far to go together, but the softer nature of conflict has settled around me. The question has gone from “Can I ever find the love of my life?” to “Can I ever be the love of my life?” And it took me years to figure out what that means.
My difficulties in my relationships hinged on my broken relationship with myself. My fear of conflict made me inauthentic, tell lies, and hide truths under the rug. But now, I am moving toward being happy, satisfied with “what is.”
Bless all of you for your patience, love, support, kindness, honesty, and courage. You have been my miracle.