I have spent two decades in and out of relationships. And I have spent countless hours listening, counseling and helping friends navigate through their own relationship issues. God knows they are hard. It's so easy in the beginning when you are in the honeymoon period where the person can seem to do no wrong. Or when they do, your patience level is ridiculously high because the emotional bank account is full and all the withdrawals they need to make don't deplete you. You're running on this "high" of newness and novelty and passion and possibility and wow don't we all wish it could always be like that?
But there comes a point in every marriage, relationship and friendship when the account balance goes into the negative zone and that's where most relationships fall apart. We aren't strong enough or patient enough to ride out the dark times... to hold space for that person as they navigate their way out of the darkness and back into the light. It's a bumpy and often thorny road back to happiness and wholeness but people can only get there with our support and unconditional love.
Sadly most of us bail and get out of the relationship before we ever get to that point. Because it's just too damn hard.... and there is always some "shiny new person" just around the corner who doesn't have all of these issues and insecurities we don't want to deal with (or so we think). The grass always looks a little greener when we can't see the weeds yet in the shiny new person's yard so why stick around and put up with somebody else's darkness and perceived failures when we can get out before the going gets real tough?
What I have learned is that true love is the ability to love the full spectrum of someone, from their good and light parts to their darkness. It's about understanding their inner battles and supporting them, even when it's hard to relate to what they are going through or not understanding why they keep making the same mistakes over and over.
It doesn't mean staying in a relationship that is abusive or no longer bringing you any joy... but standing with your partner when they are struggling... in the messiness and muck of their failures and insecurities, in the thunderstorms and chaos when things are falling apart around them and accepting them in that place. Because let's face it... we have ALL been in that place. The place where we have lost faith in ourselves... when we have fallen on our faces again and need time to figure out how to pick ourselves back up and move forward in a different and more positive direction.
Loving someone through the light and the dark means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they're on without judging them, without making them feel inadequate, and without trying to fix them. It means releasing control over how they "should" do something and allowing them to find their own way. It means giving them to freedom of self-discovery rather steering them in the direction that we would go if we were in their shoes. Relationships don't last because of the good times. They last because the hard times were handled with love and care by our partners.
What I have found is that the people who hold the most sacred place in my heart today... are those who have allowed me to fail. Who loved me through the dark times in my life although it may have been frustrating and painful to watch my imperfect process. And who were there with their arms outstretched when I triumphantly broke through to the other side... all on my own.
As humans, we all have light and dark in us. We struggle. We fall. We learn and we try again. Let the darkness find you if it must. Throw off the quick and tempting escapes, and seek help only from those who will teach you to grow, feed your soul, embrace your heart, but won't steal away your journey. The most successful relationships and deepest love connections are between 2 people who accept each other just as they are, and just they aren't.
What a gift we can give someone we love by not giving up on them, but instead reaching out our arms and being there when they make it through to the other side.