A couple posts ago, I mentioned my fear of hurting a significant other. I said this caused a lot of stress, now that I’m entering into a relationship. It comes as little surprise that I have already descended to my worst. That is, I used guilt to harm my girlfriend. Though I repented within seconds, the damage was done; she was very hurt, and also, I was quite ashamed.
So what to do in such a situation? First of all, I try not to do it again. In no way do I accept such behavior as OK. Beyond this, however, I must accept that as a mortal man, I will do things that are not OK. This doesn’t mean that I’m fine with these behaviors and don’t condemn bad actions as bad. It means that I have to love myself and others despite our imperfections.
This is a hard lesson to learn. It is my natural reaction to all vice to condemn not only the vice itself but also myself. I am tempted to argue that my experiences in Western Christianity (Think Augustine) led to this, but I have to admit that my tendency toward self hatred and shame has always been with me. Even as a toddler, I refused to speak until I was three years old, possibly because I was afraid to speak incorrectly.
My girlfriend showed me a podcast today that helped. The man interviewed shared many things about love, and I was reminded that part of love is the hardship of it. He said that while love stories are always about falling in love, the real love is what comes after this “falling”. To be fair, my girlfriend and I are still in the “falling in love” stage. We are still entirely infatuated and silly about it. Yet now, with this bit of conflict, we reached a bit of imperfection which will always be with us. In this imperfection, we begin to learn what resilience we have. We also learn how to improve on this resilience.
To be honest, this stuff is scary, but it’s good. Frequently, good things are not safe things. When I got my first full time job, I was terrified of it for multiple reasons. Much of my fear centered around the sort of stability required to work so many hours in a week. Yet I fought through it and now own a house and have met many wonderful people including my girlfriend. I learned myriad things about life and people. I’ve thought recently of starting a business centered around helping people get into and stay in recovery of mental illness. I intend to use my certification as a Peer Support Specialist to advance this business, if I do indeed create it.
I will never love anyone perfectly, but perhaps I can love people well. Perhaps I can do more good than harm. If I can do such a thing, then I am indeed blessed.