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Our desire to flee or avoid, and seek an efficient comfort, is felt most often and most poignantly in the dramas of our love lives. There we are most vulnerable and exposed. It is the cause of joy and deep catharsis, a return in adulthood to the comfort of childhood; but it is also the cause of the pain, when, in relationship turmoil or termination, we become reacquainted with the haunting fact of our solitude in the world.
How many people do you know who simply cannot leave a relationship, no matter its malnutrition, its flatness, (its harm, even)? The fear of the sensation of breaking apart, rejoining solitude, (facing yourself), after a term of companionship, where the burden of the self is shared, is sharp enough to keep us in various modes of avoidance. We will sooner tolerate the gradual erosion of our self-respect, willpower, and health than face that return to solitude.
But when we avoid the deep challenges of love and life, we poison the very thing we’re clinging to. That is how love and friendship rot – repeated avoidance of the respect and courage needed for proper interpersonal maintenance. Honesty begets courage and more honesty. Dishonesty begets frailty and more falseness in the way we live.
On a Personal Note:
In going through a breakup, this past year, I attempted repeatedly to bypass the necessary stages of growth – the primary one being: distance. First, I eschewed the trauma of loss, aloneness, by abruptly starting a new relationship, which quickly and violently caved due to the unhealthy, intense desperation of its beginning. I responded, in turn, with another abrupt and cowardly move – attempting, with inappropriate haste, to shunt the broken relationship into a friendship – a transition that, in order to happen properly, requires time, patience, and confrontation with the pain of the initial break. My ex-partner, sturdier in these regards than I am, helped me, time and time again, to see the dangers of these frantic attempts to avoid, at all costs, the reality of the breakup. It is only with time, and their assistance, that I’ve finally allowed the waves of that experience to crash upon my body and waited patiently for those waves to run their course, wane, and eventually recede, leaving a washed self and renewed waters to work with. Nothing loosens when you pull against its tension. The waves sting – but their sting is honest and, more importantly, transient. And the satisfaction of facing the truth – the truth of the world – compiles a sense of strength even during the saddest and most hurtful spells of emotional healing.
Our goal in love and life is to build a body of courage, and that body takes its direction from the history, the sequence, of our actions.
The price of concessions, of timid choices, is our capacity for freedom and bravery. If we had been brave – stuck with it; endured; gone through, not around – that gesture would retain the memory of our choice or effort. Our body would then remember that motion, and bravery would be made easier moving forward, our future predicated on the muscle we used at that moment. A concession, instead, contextualizes us in diminishment and weakness. We did not choose to concede – the concession itself was our lack of choosing. We always lose an inch of ourselves when we recede from the difficult but honest relation we must face. We always gain, manifold, when we act bravely, and face the necessary stages of a painful process – be it as large as a breakup, or as common as an argument with a friend.