The poet Rainier Maria Rilke wrote,
‘Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.’
Like a dread, cave dwelling, smoke breathing beast from a Tolkien novel, savage old pain within us can awaken dreadfully at the prodding of a new slight, real or perceived. While strangers can touch such livewires within us, sadly we often unload on our nearest and dearest because we have hopes and expectations of them.
We hope that they will see the depth of our pain and fix it.
We hope that they will have the magic touch that will calm the wildfire of emotions engulfing us.
We hope that they will admit that they are the problem, and their mea culpa will both end the tension and absolve us of our share of the blame. In short, we want to be right.
We hope that they will stand by us in the most ferocious gales of the storm, even if we are the storm; that when the dark clouds pass and the tranquil blue sky and sunshine return it will illuminate the smiling face of the one we love looking at us with complete forgiveness. We want to give the burden of our anguish to the ones we trust to bear it. Our hearts tell us that if this person can make us happy when things are good, they can succor us when things are bad, too. We want to be accepted for the sum total of who we are, even our ugliness.
It is in identifying with what we consider to be ugly within ourselves that we act from these illusions about ourselves. In truth, it is just difficult to act from or cultivate our higher attributes when we are in pain. But we want those we love to see this, and make the mistake of provoking them to fight as an attempt to enlist them to fight for us, even as we are fighting ourselves and the burdens of our limitations, traumas, and misconceptions.
I am not a professional. I don’t have an answer to resolve this phenomenon. I am only a writer and a human with a wish: that rather than fighting those we love to be seen, heard, loved, and understood, instead we will see our own beauty and summon the courage to say,
‘I’m in pain; I need you; stay with me; help me; I want it to be you who sees me, hears me, and saves me, because I love you.’
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