It’s a curious phrase, “we’re only human”. We use it, of course, to refer to human fallibility; the fact that we’re not, and will never be, perfect. And yet it also diminishes all of those astounding attributes and aspects and idiosyncrasies that make us wonderfully human. The dynamics of relationships between human beings are infinite in their variations and iterations. The problem and the amazing fact is that we feel. And those feelings can sabotage us as much as they can make us soar. How is it that we can be unutterably happy and connected one day, and then out of nowhere a crappy conversation can leave us devastated and disconnected the next? And when things start falling apart, it’s so hard to maintain perspective, to not be overwhelmed by the hurt and pain and fear of loss. We’re blindsided and somehow without being able to prevent it, we slide down into icy waters and we find an ocean between us.
It’s strange isn’t it? How often the closer we are to someone, the greater our fear of losing that person, and the more worried we become in the relationship. Fear in a relationship often makes us act contrary to what we want. We tend to disconnect and withdraw, when actually what we want is connection and love. We become defensive and take it personally, whipping up an impenetrable wall. When was the last time you openly spoke your mind or your truth in a relationship? Did you have your heart in your mouth, butterflies swirling, afraid of stepping into conflict and terrified of the potential consequences? Yes? Well, then welcome to being “only” human.
How often do we avoid difficult conversations or conflict for fear of the consequences? A fear that is usually based on the worst possible outcome, by the way. Being able to step into conflict and to trust the relationship is an incredibly liberating experience, although it takes practice and a change in perspective. Trust yourself to be able to hold your truth and the other’s truth as equally sacred.
When you want to disconnect and turn your back, instead force yourself to stay, reach out your hand, look into the other’s eyes. Have you noticed how, when we’re in full indignant, defensive flow, we avoid eye contact? Stop. Breathe. Look the other in the eyes. Not in the eye, but in the eyes. Silently. Breathe. Stay. Breathe. And stay longer. Stay beyond what seems possible. Silent. Just maintain that steady gaze into their eyes. And Stay, Stay, Stay.
What do you see? Who do you see?
What is it you really want, from the bottom of your heart? The chances are they want the same thing. They’re only human too. They’re feeling pain too, the conflict is hurting them too. Step in, lean in and focus on the relationship. Serve the relationship. What does it need to move beyond the issue? What do you need? What does the other need? What’s standing in the way of your connection?
It’s so easy to turn your back, to fall into old patterns, to withdraw into defensive indignance. So much harder and rewarding is staying despite the hurt, facing down the fear, swallowing pride, and stepping forward into the heart-stopping void to close the yawning space between you. With every little step forward, the gap narrows, the wall dissolves, the relationship becomes stronger, deeper.
Human connection is a precious and wondrous thing, something to be cherished and fought for. It’s what proves that we’re “only” human. It causes pain, suffering and hurt. And it also creates immense joy, happiness and awe. Profound connection, Love, unconditionally given, is breathtaking in its beauty and resilience, especially when stretched.