Love Martyr or Farce?
Have you ever quietly known something about your relationship wouldn’t work for you, but you stayed quiet to avoid the conflict that would disrupt what you think you want?
I caught a movie recently called “The Five Year Engagement.” There was a funny scene where one of the characters told his friend who was unhappy in his relationship circumstances and soon to be married, to tell his fiancé the truth about his unhappiness. He told him not to be a martyr. Then he explained how there were times he freaked-out in his own marriage and that it was his natural reaction, but that he didn’t try to hide it from his wife because it was a part of him that she needed to see and also he wasn’t concerned with what she would think about it. They’d address his fears together and move on and he felt his friend shouldn’t get married without being able to do that.
This was a romantic comedy so I’m sure the point of this scene was to laugh (which I did.) But I think the writers of this film (Jason Segel & Nicholos Stoller) were genius in their delivery of this jewel of thought.
It rings true all good jokes stem in some form of truth. I thought about the times I pretended to be okay with something to save face or because I didn’t want to be labeled a nagger or a complainer. Or I wanted to be that super cool, ride-or-die chick that is un-phased by all things and invincible in my relationships. I have an “I can handle it” complex. I see the fire. I know the fire is going to burn me. There’s a cool area I can go to where I’ll be safe but I refuse. I think I’d look like a coward walking away from the flame to the cool space. So I keep walking towards the raging fire getting closer and closer until I get burned. Then, I cry.
There are so many uncomfortable conversations to be had in the course of any relationship between two people. An employee and a boss. Parents & Children. Best friends. Enemies. Lovers. Parents. Strangers. You name it. Some things have to be said that aren’t easy to say. Silence has its place and should be valued more than credit is given. However, silence is not the answer when there is a conflict that at some point must be addressed and healed. How do I say the things I’m afraid to say? When I’ve made the promises I’ve made and I’ve agreed to doing something, how do I opt out without feeling like I reneged? What do I do when I want this thing (whatever that thing is) so badly, but I know if I express my truth, I will lose it?
These are questions I’ve asked myself so much. And when I felt speaking and saying “Hey, I’m not okay with this,” was unbearable, I’d just be quiet and passively pretend that the discomfort would go away and that the unrest would resolve itself. Basically, I would run. This doesn’t work. The coolest thing to do is be me. I’m just afraid of showing people the ugly, unrefined sides of myself that I don’t like. I want to appear perfect even while knowing that it’s impossible. I don’t want to freak-out. I don’t want to not be ok, or lose my cool or have to stop in a seemingly good flow and admit that I’ve changed my mind or that I’m not comfortable. This is not the same to me as quitting. Quitting is not doing something because I’m afraid it won’t work, or I’m angry, bitter and so tired of the stress caused by it that in the midst of the difficulty, I stop without resolving the problem. This is different. This is more like re-evaluating. It’s when I end up in a situation different than what I agreed to. It’s when I’m mislead and have to understand that I’m going in the opposite direction than I intend to. It’s not about anger or bitterness or fear of failure. It’s the distinct feeling of being pulled away from my destiny. Being pulled away from the cool space that I reside in, and closer to the fire that is destined only for danger.
The answer to my question “How do I say the things I’m afraid to say?” revealed itself to me. I needed a blueprint. That’s right! A blueprint. Before I can go anywhere, do anything, or say anything, I gotta know what I want as a result of that. I gotta know that I wanna go left in order to make sure I don’t go right. I gotta know which way left is. I gotta know how to get to the left. And then I gotta use all my energy to go there. When I’m drifting away from the left, I gotta redirect myself. (Quitting on the contrary would be to say, “Left is too hard, I’m just gonna go right.” Just to further clarify the differences.) The first step to saying the hard stuff was to know what I wanted & how I planned to get it. Nobody could do this for me. I had to sit alone and figure it out.
The next step was making the commitment to myself that I would only go left. And the third step was to begin my route. Once I figured out where I was going, why, what I sought out to accomplish and how, the idea of being a martyr for something I don’t believe in became less appealing. So I thought I’d stick my feet in the water and give this whole staying left thing a go. The first time I had to tell someone “No. That’s not what I want. That’s the wrong direction for me,” well they didn’t react so well. They got upset and fussed at me and I cried. I though to myself, “What are you doing? This is new! You’re going to say no to an opportunity just because its…….not the way you want to go?” And like you just did, I realized that was a dumb question! Well yes of course, I’m going to say no to an opportunity to go the wrong way!! But I was so used to not having my compass, my blueprint, that to make a decision based on precision and planning seemed…. crazy!
My emotions are not used to being restricted. Some but not all. They’ve had the freedom to do what they want, how they want and when they want. They’ve played with the idea of danger, as if it’s effects were not destructive, leading me to the pit of hell guising the feelings of oblivion, impulse & carelessness with heroism and excitement. To be favored for the bravery of running towards the raging fire that is untamed love, with no direction or logic, was a cool thought that sparked reckless behavior and turned into a very bad habit. To say those things that are hard to say and do those things that are hard to do meant I had to leave my oblivion, step out of ignorant pretend bliss and face the harsh reality that I wasn’t moving in the right direction. I had to learn that the reason why I kept getting lost was because I didn’t have a direction to begin with.
It is of no use to suffer for a cause that I don’t believe in just to appear to be a hero. Especially when it comes to love. Once I get into the thick of it I find there are many things that I’d fight for that I actually DO believe in. But not to save face. Not so a person will think I’m always cool and always collective and always unphased and that no matter what nothing bothers me. My blueprint begins with me and my destiny and my choices. What I have in my life is going to be either a result of following that blueprint or not. And I know some things will be adjusted along the way. Maybe there will be some stops and detours on my way left, but once I made that choice, it became clear to me to pay close attention to what direction all things pull me in and to work as hard as possible to stay on course.
Thank you for reading! Do you have a blueprint? Do you think you need one? Are you a martyr or a farce? Let me know?
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