Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.~Mihalyi Cizikszentinihaly
Linda: We are all members of the scar clan. Mature love is hard won, because in every close relationship, there is inevitably some pain and loss. We will certainly make mistakes and have failures while developing courage commitment, self-discipline, practice, concentration, attention, labor, and sacrifice. Hopefully we will learn from all these frustrating experiences in order to become wise.
There is disappointment in relationship. So when love waxes and wanes, we are challenged to become more than we were by struggling against all odds to bust the romantic myths of happily ever after. And in addition to challenging the limiting beliefs, we may be struggling against our own inner sense of inadequacy. Also, we are living in a time of transition where there is less support for long-term committed partnership than in any other time in history. Yet, persisting in the struggle grows us.
Love requires WILL.
Those accomplished in any field (artists, musicians, scientists, athletes, and those who create high functioning businesses) know that many hours are required to develop the strength to become successful. As in other domains, when it comes to relationships, only part of love is easy, sweet, inspiring, something we fall into and are swept away by. The other part is the hard work.It is a process of repeatedly opening our heart up when we’re angry, hurt, and frightened. It requires the self-discipline of forgiveness and letting go. When we can’t stand our partner because they trigger our reactivity, we can develop courage to stand near the hot fire of intense feelings. Through diligent repetitive practice, we develop our will to love.
When there is a breakdown, we make a descent into darkness. In this descent, we can stop to recognize shadow parts of ourselves and the shadow parts of our partner colluding that participated in creating the trouble. It is in the recognition of the dark side that the initiation takes place.
The wounds can either set us on the path of consciousness or make us close up, plot revenge, and become bitter. If we hold what befalls us in our relationships as a call to soul making, the wounds become sacred, opening us to a higher order than we had known previously. Instead of denying the wounds, or hurrying to get over the wounds, we contain them, carry them, and learn from them. We can develop great empathy, non-attachment, forgiveness, and compassion. Through our wounding, we can be initiated into higher realms.
Borrowing an analogy from science, in physical systems, internal pressure must rise to a specific threshold for the system to change form. The buildup of heat in water creates steam. The breakdowns in our relationships heat our feelings of fear, disappointment, grief, and rage up enough to jettison us into a new form. The heat can move us out of the relationship or into a new, splendid and fulfilling form of partnership.
It is because of these very incidents that bring us to our knees, that we become who we can be. Through the very ways that we can be horrible to each other, we learn non-harm. It is the nearly disastrous experiences that prompt our learning and recovery that goes along with each one that can shape our relationships into the beautiful art form that it can become. The choice is up to us how we use the many opportunities that are regularly presented to us. What will yours be?