“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. ” -Kahlil Gibran
Pain is something that we, in this society, desperately try to avoid.
We are constantly seeking pleasure and running away from anything that could cause pain. This is natural, to a point. Of course we want to minimise discomfort but we must also recognise that pain is inevitable, and what is inevitable must be embraced.
This extreme fear of, and resistance to pain, explains a lot about why many of us struggle to find and maintain relationships. We crave the intimacy and love that such a relationship would provide but we have no desire to experience the pain that comes with it.
Deep relationship must cause pain.
If you ever hear anyone talking about how they found their ‘soul mate’, have all the same interests, finish each others sentences and never argue, wait six months and ask them again how they’re doing. If they still say the same they’re likely either lying or deluding themselves in some way.
When two separate and imperfect human beings come together, both with separate life histories, separate ideas and beliefs, separate expectations, and everything else that comes into the mix, there will be conflict.
Not only will there be conflict, but mistakes will be made and at times deep sorrow will be bestowed on either party.
“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” -Bob Marley
The deeper the relationship, the deeper the joy and the deeper the pain. This is the way it is.
The more that you care about someone, the more that you hold them in high esteem, the more that you open up to them and make yourself vulnerable, the more that any disturbance to your connection with them will cause you pain.
This will invariably come in the form of some misalignment of ideas and values which causes conflict and destabilisation. It might mean that one of you innocently takes an action that violates a value that is more important to the other, and a feeling of betrayal is created.
Although for the most part you may share the same values, there will inevitably be differences somewhere along the line, for you both have different life experiences which have shaped you.
When this happens both parties will be hurt. One will feel let down and betrayed and lose trust, and the other, upon seeing what they have created, will feel deeply upset too.
However, if both can accept and embrace this pain and maintain communication with each other, there is the opportunity for growth, for a deepening of understanding and a deepening of relationship.
It requires to stay open, even in the midst of this pain, and to communicate from that place without lashing out. This is no easy task and one that most will run from or fail at, but if one can communicate the depth of their emotion and pain and the other can receive that, then great healing and growth can be created.
Through this open and vulnerable communication you begin to understand each other on deeper levels, to create a deeper empathy for each others ideas and beliefs and values. You come to see how and why the other values what they value, and the driving force of your deep love for them forces you into a depth of understanding that you could not possibly have attained outside of intimacy.
Your care is so deep that you MUST understand. No other situation could possibly force you into such deep contemplation and understanding, for nothing makes you care so deeply as love.
In understanding the other you are forced to loosen your own ideas and beliefs, not necessarily to abandon them, but to loosen them and open yourself up to different points of view and different possibilities. Your humility, your empathy and your ability to connect increases from here, from this loosening, not just within this relationship but in relationship to everyone.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.” -Kahlil Gibran
In this sense, as difficult and as uncomfortable as it may be, we can say that the pain of relationship is one of it’s virtues. The pain arises from the inevitable conflict that comes when two separate people decide to play the game of mutual openness and vulnerability. This pain is a catalyst for growth, for a deepening of some of the most important qualities that we can possess as humans.
This blog post is inspired by the pain that exists between myself and my girlfriend right now, pain I have caused and also experienced. I can already see and feel that this pain is ‘the breaking of the shell that encloses my understanding’ and I am reluctantly grateful to receive it, for the medicine is bitter but the healing is sweet.
The bitterness of causing pain in the woman I love is difficult to swallow. I only hope that it leads in time, not just to a deepening of my understanding, but to a deepening of our relationship.
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