That moment in our conversation kept returning to my consciousness regularly for three days afterwards until at last I was like, “OK! I get it, I have something here to express.” So I first pondered on it myself until I got some clarity as to what had been going on for me, and then I brought up what I was feeling with my partner. He was surprised and felt very moved and appreciative that I would make a point to take responsibility for this seemingly very small thing that had passed between us. But that is just the thing - no matter how little it may seem, it was not a loving comment I made. It stuck out like a sore thumb from the harmonious way we usually communicate. It did not reflect the immense respect and love I have for him - and it is from such little things that big things grow.
Bringing it up with him unfolded into a great conversation that deepened our intimacy. We both agreed to do our best (no perfection here) to bring these small things to each other as we feel them - to see them as great opportunities to continually develop our relationship. If I had not chosen to bring this up, I would be setting the scene to become accustomed to allow other similar moments of tension to be swept under the rug. With time, a thick wall of resentment and frustration grows out of such “bricks” made out of many small harmful comments, glances, or gestures - and they are cemented in by the allowance of them. Once it gets to that point, outbursts, in-home riots and/or passive aggressive festivals begin - and we have the ugly big thing that grew from the many, many little ones.
But I didn’t always live this way. I too used to pick my fights and not make ‘big deals’ out of things. Why did I in the past choose to so often silently hold tension in, only to then perversely let it slip out in dramatic glances, body language or outbursts, rather than simply express when I felt it? Like so many, we normalize harmful patterns based on familiarity. Holding back expression is what is predominantly modeled to us in our world. Us “I am fine” humans do not tend to really say how we are feeling, and thus another way of communicating honestly may not even be considered appropriate or possible. Even if we do know another way, we may not consistently choose it as it is simply not comfortable to deal with unresolved hurts and issues - especially if they have already grown into big things. Healing is something we are either ready for, or not and it takes two to tango. If both people in the relationship are not open and ready to lovingly explore what is underneath the tension, then choosing comfort and complacency often becomes the status quo - instead of true expression that brings forth what is there to "feel, deal and heal."
It took a little getting used to, but now I absolutely choose to tend to the seeds of disharmony right away, so I can re-sow seeds of harmony in their place. When my partner and I agreed to create a safe place for anything to be ‘brought to the table’ to be talked about and dealt with, we laid the foundations for a relationship where we can allow our bodies to relax and let go of tension. It can be as simple as saying, “I am feeling some tension between us, can we explore what that’s about?” Then the issue becomes like an object, external from us, that we are examining together. Once the personal is taken out, it can become an incredibly interesting healing exploration together - one that without exception leads to a deepening of intimacy between us, a confirmation of the power of our connection, and a burst of affection and playfulness. Not only do I bring this to my partner, but I am learning to develop relationships of all kinds - with my friends, children, parents, co-workers - where when tension is felt - even the slightest bit - it is a fabulous sign that there is an opportunity to stop, express, understand, accept, love and evolve together. Then all those little seeds of harmony may bloom and grow into a big, beautiful thing - like real union, deep intimacy and the foundations of truly loving relationships.