Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elastic Relationships


People have such different ways of processing anger.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this since yesterday when I discussed my approach with a therapist.
There are those who blow up, letting the 4-letter words fly, sometimes saying things they don’t really mean, but ultimately letting everything just slide away.  This is probably the healthiest approach for the angry individual, but maybe not so healthy for the recipient of the anger.
There are others, like me, who may not say a lot, but instead internalize the episode, replaying it time and again, but not letting go entirely.
I described my shutdown approach to the therapist, telling her that I eventually tend to come around although not to forget.  She asked what the secret to my coming around was and I thought for a moment before saying “Time.”
After our session, I found myself thinking about relationships in terms of elasticity.  Over the years we stretch them, sometimes almost to the breaking point, only to slowly release and allow the natural contraction before beginning to stretch again.  I marveled at just how far they can stretch sometimes and still remain viable.  
I wondered if the elastic of a relationship ever wears out the way the stretchy band at the top of your underwear sometimes does.  I wonder if there are signs that a stretch is becoming more permanent.
I shuddered and hoped not.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like this analogy, Barbara. This is challenging stuff to be processing, but I hope it leads to greater inner peace.

The elastic of my relationship with my ex-husband did wear out after a certain point. One of the signs was that my capacity for bouncing back (or emotionally "returning") after yet another of his acting-out episodes was depleted; I shut down, didn't feel the usual urge to try to explain how I was feeling, and my sadness didn't lift. So perhaps I should say that *I* wore out. And I knew it when the time had come, and that there was no going back.

Sending you love...

F.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

relationships change because we change. yes, I think some can "wear out" as you put it - they outlive their usefulness to one or both of the participants. that's not always a bad thing, though it can be sad.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Aileen said...

Hi Barbara- interesting analogy!

I tried to send you an email but it was returned- drop me a line when you can.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I've let the elastic stretch, snap and break from time to time, but I'm getting better about that. With time.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I think the elastic certainly can wear out -- but the challenge of maintaining a relationship is to do your best to not let that happen, right? Finding ways to keep the elastic pliable is paramount!

8:33 AM  
OpenID jennasauber.com said...

This is a great post. I am the same way - internalizing and thinking about a fight or a comment or a miscommunication to the death - while my boyfriend would rather just drop it and move on. That being said, usually, if I give it a few hours or a night, like he would prefer, I've come around...mostly. I still want to resolve it, but I'm not angry anymore.

I wonder the same thing - if I'm stretching us too much, and if that stretch will cause things to break, or if it will just become like that beloved pair of sweatpants with the worn out elastic that still feel so good.

10:07 AM  

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