Conflict. In my experience, which could be saying something right there, it happens in every relationship.
Sometimes it’s easy to forgive. Sometimes it’s easy to move on.
But sometimes it’s worse in one relationship than in another – or worse at certain times. Sometimes, it’s more painful. Stinging. Sometimes it leaves you a little breathless, feeding anxiety and bitterness and doubt, until its resolved. And even then, sometimes, it lingers.
In any case, conflict happens.
Heroes Nose-to-nose With the Wall
I knew when I resolved to love people better in 2018, I would have to go first to resolve the conflict existing in my life.
I have to be the hero.
Often times, I already feel like I’m being the hero. Often times, I work harder emotionally and physically and spiritually in pretty much any relationship in question.
I promise I’m not trying to be arrogant when I say this. I’m just a striver. A pleaser. It’s in my nature to work harder for longer and often to my own detriment.
I say the prayers, offer to talk it out, say more prayers, read all the relationship books, take the classes, go to counseling, give up praying, and then I repeat it all – all of it – again and again. And I don’t give up until I figure it out.
Often times, it works.
Every time I’m tired.
If you find yourself exhausted in your relationships – like you’ve run the full length of the emotional-gamut all the while twisting your mind, body and spirit in all kinds of directions, only to come to the end of your rope, facing a wall, lungs burning – you can relate.
You know about being a hero. But do you remember that one thing?
Being the Hero Means Going First, First
Even when I’ve heroically done it all, there’s usually one thing I haven’t done – one thing that all heroes do – until I’m at a complete loss, hands thrown up, stamping my feet in frustration, head banging against that stupid wall I’m panting at, and that is go first.
The concept is easiest to understand when applied to parenting. (Because we’re smart grown ups and don’t need this knowledge ourselves, right?)
The scene – all the kids are screaming and crying and pointing fingers, and as the parent, you can’t decide who did what first to whom and therefore who should be responsible first for what, and did I mention everyone is screaming and crying and pointing and no one is breathing? (Deep breath.)
In parenting, when this happens, there is no doubt apologies need to be said. Hurt plus upset plus multiple people – that formula always equals apologizes, right? But someone has to go first.
Someone has to be the hero. Someone has to ignore the sting, turn away from the wall, and bend.
This should be hard for children. Not for us.
But it is, isn’t it? And there’s always that one relationship in which being the hero, being the first to apologize, seems more impossible than in others.
In my life, it’s hard to apologize first because, one, I’m stubborn, truth, and two, I’ve already used all the energy I had on making the relationship work. Striving, remember?
And I’m tired.
I’m too tired to do the one thing that will, often times, will allow me to rest, to breath again.
And I’m hurt. Because people reciprocate meanness in conflicts. Because conflicts are meanness circles.
I’d rather read all the books than say, “I’m sorry,” and just shut up. Not over-analyze the situation. Not argue my points. Just shut up.
But it doesn’t matter. Someone still has to go first.
I’m Next (Are You?)
Today’s the day. I have to go first. I’m tired. I can’t breathe. It has to happen, and it is going to have to be me.
I’ve gone first before – it’s not new to me. It has always worked out, and today, I’m sure it will, too. But it is amazing how hard it is, and I’m dreading it. My heart is stinging, and I’m angry and, well, mostly just confused. And I feel justified!
But it doesn’t matter.
So I’m going to take care of myself. Be nice to me – I’m writing, having coffee, letting the kids watch a little more tv than usual (because, snow day with no snow – ugh).
Today, I may even eat a piece of cake. For breakfast.
I’m going to get my energy up for this act of heroism. My relationships need it. And because in last week’s wisdom, I chose love. And because I can do it.
If you’re facing a wall, breathing hard, if your heart is stinging and you are so, so tired, Hero, I hope you’ll consider going first today, too.