I’ve been told by many people throughout my life that I’m combative. Insist on arguing. Always have to be right. I never really knew what to do with that, because (and the irony here isn’t lost on me) I’m not combative, arguing, trying to be right or “get my way.” Perpetually on a quest to understand all aspects of a thing, I would present my reasoning expecting the other party to return with their reasonings. Then (or so I plan), we could objectively look at all sides, explore other points of view and collaborate on the best possible way to proceed together. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes people think I’m being argumentative… which I do occasionally become once the other side starts throwing sucker punches and hurts my feelings.
I’ve gotten much better at communicating in a way that avoids this over my professional career, but really my solutions just skirt the issue. It’s core was still there, and occasionally personal interactions would explode—seemingly from left field—leaving me shocked, confused and somehow labeled the asshole when all I tried to do was understand the other person and help them understand my point of view as well. It was only recently, via my relationship with the absolute love of my life, Bryce, that I was finally able to see how the phrasing and conversational abbreviations I used in casual conversation was contributing to my perceived combative nature. Changing the way one speaks is not an easy thing and will certainly not happen overnight, but it’s situations like the one I recently experienced—uncomfortable growth catalyzed and nurtured by someone who loves you—that make relationships so much more meaningful. So much more powerful.
Although events leading to this epiphany were not entirely pleasant, the payoff is certainly worth it. I have never been so motivated by anyone, so inspired by vulnerability, or so willing to change aspects of myself for someone else. I have never had a partner that was willing to say the difficult things that need to be said, nor actually receive the difficult things they need to hear; most people are too paralyzed by fear of rejection or confrontation to start a dialog on such subjects, but if you truly, legitimately love someone, you have to be willing to have those difficult conversations.
I am so glad Bryce is in my life. We push each other outside of our comfort zones. We don’t abandon each other when the waters get rough. We are mutually open to shedding a bit of our ego to make room for the other person’s well being. We inspire each other, praise each other, are team mates and companions. We laugh together, fight together, and occasionally shed a tear together. We are captain and first mate, skipper and cabin wench. We will conquer empires together and fall flat on our faces together. We find strength in each other, but most importantly, we make each other better people because we are greater than the sum of our parts.
I finally understand what love actually is. And this time, I’m actually ready for it.