The Only Way Around the Pain Is Through It

a thorny branch
Image by Ricardo Camacho / CC BY

When it comes to conflict in relationships, it isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. What. How. Why.

Because there isn’t a relationship that doesn’t eventually have a conflict.

True, I’ve found that the best relationships are easy in the beginning, any lumps or bumps smoothed over by a wash of flattering NRE.

But eventually, especially in extremely entangled relationships, where you spend a lot of time with one another, share a household and/or finances, you will run into a crisis point.

You will.

It will happen.

You will run into something that isn’t fun but that you have to deal with. Maybe something that happens over and over. That you can’t seem to shake.

Something that deeply troubles you. That you just can’t drop. Even though you can see how hard it will be to change, you feel like it needs to, or you can’t stay in the relationship anymore. At least not happily.

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

When I Realize I Can’t Make a Change On My Own, My First Instinct Is to Run Away

The worst moments for me are when I realize that it’s not something that I can change on my own. When I realize it’s something that I’m going to need someone else’s help with. And especially if they’re going to need to change a little, too, as part of it.

My impulse at moments like these is to run away. Flee the scene.

Because I can see the long journey that such an adventure will require stretching out before me. An epic quest, really. And truth be told, when I get to that point I’m already tired. I don’t know if I have the fight in me now to deal with what I know it’ll take, let alone if I’ll have it later, after being out on the road for so long.

But the times I have been attached enough, invested enough, I’ve ignored the impulse to flee and set out on the journey anyway, with a traveling companion who is just as exhausted and typically complaining the whole time about why we’re going out here. Telling me they think I’m making something out of nothing.

In the best case scenario, somewhere along the path, their attitude turns. They’re still exhausted and don’t know where I’m taking them (I barely even know myself), but they at least understand why I wanted to set out in the first place. They trust I’m not taking them on a fool’s errand.

The Only Way Around the Pain Is Through It

And as we travel onward, there will be nights when I find that not only am I lost but that the only way forward lies through even worse terrain. That to make it through the woods, I have to hike through a briar patch with giant poison thorns.

Because I can’t rest here. Even though I’m very tired and have so much further to go.

The only way around the pain is through it. There’s no way but forward.

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My new book is out!

Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).

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