The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you see their flaws. That’s just the way it is.
The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. That is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last. You might think you love someone until you see the way that they act when they’re out of money, or under pressure, or hungry. Love is something different. Love is choosing to be with someone in spite of their differences. Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice, it’s seeing the darkness in another person, understanding them and defying the impulse to jump ship.
In some circumstances, literature and entertainment are to blame. Happily ever after does not exist. When Prince Charming liberates a damsel in distress, they do not live happily ever after. The damsel does not like the fact that he snores, and he chews food with his mouth open. He does not like it when she asks (nags) him repeatedly to take off his boots when he comes in from riding and that she takes forever to get ready when they have an event at the Queen’s palace to attend. And so it goes.
(Spoiler alert!). There just is no happily ever after.
Every great relationship takes work. It is a give and take. Everyone will annoy you, no matter how attracted to them you are for their physical beauty, their knowledge, their good humor or whatever the foundation of the relationship may be. Everyone will eventually let you down in one way or another. They will have a flaw in their personality that grinds on you. They will not be there at a time you want them to be there. They will say something that hurts your feelings. They will misunderstand something you do and be cross with you over something that you thought was fair and valid.
Some people live with disposable relationships. They “use” people. This can be professional, personal, sexual or otherwise. They see people as stepping stones to their ends, they recognize the short term value in befriending, “loving” or collaborating with someone and when their world is prime, they abandon and move to the next person, without cause or concern for the person that they just leapfrogged and left behind. And when you are the one who was leapfrogged, you feel used, cheated, abandoned, hurt, and the pain is palpable. It feels like you have been kicked in the stomach, so hard that you will never catch your breath again. You will be wheezing and gasping for air, wondering how you were so easily able to breath yesterday, before you knew.
Conversely, if you have values, morals, and most of all… patience, compassion and empathy, you are far more likely to understand what today’s aphorism speaks to. You will see that person in your world as bringing so many great values and benefits to your life, that whatever you are looking past in their existence (physical, mental, emotional or otherwise) is minimal in comparison to what they really deliver on so many other fronts. You will find that intense desire to be with them, regardless. You will lovingly look right past those flaws that we all have, and instead see all of their merits, qualities, values and attributes that make you so happy to be with them, in whatever capacity your friendship or relationship dictates.
When I have encountered moments like this, from either side of the perspective, I look to the much bigger picture. I have been all of the people in my explanations above. I have been the one that left. I have been the one who has been left. I have also been the one that stayed and I have had those in my life who have stayed, regardless of the qualities about me that warranted their leaving. I do not think any of us are perfect. I most certainly am not. For the times that I have left, most were not as warranted as I may have sold myself on at the time of leaving. For the times I have been left, I have weathered the abandonment and soul searched the reasons why and tried to console myself with a hundred thoughts, none of which would replace the pain.
But in the cases where I have stayed beyond the moment of the impulse to abandon, I am most proud. In those cases, my desire to abandon was very short sighted and before I made the move, I saw how short sighted it truly was, and opted not to venture into that territory. In almost every circumstance, my choice to stick it out was rewarded with far greater fruits than had I cut bait and left. In this circumstance, the experience of being patient, looking past the issue at hand, and reconciling myself that the net gain in the relationship far outweighed the net loss, proved to be prescient and far more reaching in my vision. In almost all circumstances, once I got past the impulse to just leave, I found a new equilibrium with that party that gave me huge joy, great satisfaction and a much deeper appreciation of both myself, as well as them.
I have come so close to losing everything in life, I have actually surveyed caves in Westlake that I wondered if I might inhabit as home if things got any worse. I have had good cause to expect that everyone around me would walk away because I had failed so loudly and with such impact on both my life and theirs. As things continue to turn around in my favor, it makes me steadfast and resolved to make sure that I reward those in my life who loved me in my darkest moments with everything I have. They know that regardless of whatever is in my world, if they called with a problem, I would drop EVERYTHING and come to their aid. They know that if our work delivers rewards that they would never question whether I would reward them commensurately for all that they did for me. They know in plain and simple terms that I love them. In whatever unique way our relationship, friendship or collaborative relationship dictates, that I am the one who will stand up and be counted. That I will be the one who looks past whatever trespass I felt in our dynamic and be the one that in the middle of the night, when everyone else is tuned out… that I will be the one in their corner.
This is very high level work. It requires patience, vision, elasticity and virtue. As I said previously, I have not always been this person. I have been the person who was egregious. I have been the one who left. I have been the one who lost patience. Those things left me feeling like the biggest loser on the planet. It plunged me to my lowest of lows. But in those lows, I have found my higher self. One that is not going to be that person ever again. One that is determined and focused to level up. One that never wants to make another human being feel like I did in prior chapters of my life.
There truly is no Happily Ever After. But there is our own ability to mature. To grow. To gain greater understanding, empathy, compassion, and to recognize the qualities in someone that warrants your deepest respect and delivers your personal growth so as to treat them in a way that makes them know in their deepest of dark corners, that when the going gets tough, that you will still (and always) remain in their corner. That you will be the one they can call at 3AM when everything is darkest before the dawn.