by Elliot Lyons
Relationships are reflections of who we think we’re not because in them we find out who we really are.
Let me explain.
Some of the things I dislike in my partner are the same things I’m struggling with myself, but sometimes I don’t realize this until I see her react in similar ways to similar situations.
I’m like that, too, I say to myself, annoyed. I thought I wasn’t.
It’s a reminder that I don’t have that issue under wraps, and all I’ve been doing in our relationship is assuming I’m further ahead in my process because I’m not that bad; rather, I’ve told myself that I’m not that bad.
But the way I use comparison is harmful because it’s not a competition, and the judgement implicit in it invalidates her struggle(s).
I shouldn’t feel that I’m “better” than my partner, and when I do the problem is me.
Although we may have similar issues, we’re still two different people, and these differences are important because they dictate different approaches to problems and different standards of progress.
This means I have to work to better understand where she is, why she’s there, what she’s doing about it, and what she needs.
All without judging her worth by what she’s struggling with.
At the same time, my main focus should be how I am in dealing with the same issue, why I’m there, what I’m doing about it, and what I need, instead of spending my energy frustrated with what she’s doing while I ignore what I’m not.
Learning how to care for her by looking at myself honestly has been and will continue to be a tough process. Every time I think I have something solved, there’s another layer because issues change in accordance to my understanding. Each situation where there’s conflict is a chance to deepen my understanding of myself, her, and our relationship.
This is the only way it’ll work, that much I understand.