There are storms inside all of us.
Storms from childhood trauma, adolescent heartache, adult loneliness.
Storms of inequality, systematic oppression, bitterness.
Storms of fear of failure and fear of success.
Storms of insecurity, anxiety, and loss.
There are storms – stirring, brewing, evolving – inside all of us.
Yes, the storms you’ve encountered are unique to you and your personal journey, but you are not alone in having to face battles in the past, present, and future.
Accepting that is the first step to taking radical responsibility within your life and especially, within your relationships – marriage included.
You are not the only exception.
You are not the only victim of pain.
You are not the only one with baggage.
However, when face-to-face with your storm, how often do you choose to cling to the comfort of victimhood rather than take radical responsibility for your own beliefs, decisions, and actions?
Clinging to the comfort of victimhood may look like:
- Refusing to place trust in a person because you witnessed an unfaithful marriage growing up
- Never sharing the blame because [insert counter-criticism about what they did wrong here]
- Continuously pointing fingers at the culture you grew up in as an excuse for your behavior
When I got married, I was intensely aware of the baggage that I brought with me. A background of instability filled me with irrational fears, constricting anxieties, and damaging expectations of failure. I knew that I’d have to decide what role these storms would play in my life, if any role at all.
Do I push them down and hope to suffocate them away? (hint: this never works.)
Do I hold a place for them at the table, letting them stake their claim in my life and my husband’s life? (hint: this sucks.)
Or do I acknowledge, cover in waves of grace, and seek to fill my life with more light, with the support and accountability of my spouse and loved ones? (hint: yes.)
You see, there is no overarching antidote that can cure us all of the corners of darkness in our soul. But there is a major difference between complacently holding space for darkness and intentionally recognizing it and then deciding to not let it win.
Letting the storm win is using it as an excuse rather than viewing it as a tender spot of weakness, in need of healing and strengthening. It’s the difference between, “well this is just the way I am” and “I know I’m not perfect – what do I need to do to rise above?”
It’s the difference between voicing your difficulties just to spread complaints and consciously revealing difficulty in pursuit of support and growth.
If you want to be awake and holistically engaged in relationship, you have to accept that no one but yourself is responsible for your actions – regardless of the behaviors you’ve witnessed, stories you’ve been fed, or patterns you’ve been sold.
The space between you and the loved ones in your life should be viewed as sacred space. It should be filled with connection, understanding, support, love, and light.
Whether you choose to spread the storms that you experience is up to you.
Whether you choose to fill that space with darkness is up to you.
This is not a call for everyone experiencing pain to bottle-it-up for the sake of clear skies. It’s a call to move beyond the darkness and into the light. True responsibility within love and life almost always requires intentional action.
True responsibility within love and life almost always requires intentional action.
Have those honest conversations but always keep them solution-centered.
Recognize the lies you’ve been told but then cover them – fully, fiercely – in truth.
Be vulnerable and open but only with those who are in the arena, fighting your battles alongside of you. (i.e. Stop venting on social media in the name of vulnerability. That’s not how this works.)
The relationships you long for are not outside of your reach.
If you want to be the author of your own story, the very first step is to realize that the pen has been in your hands all along. So tell me, what is your story?
Are you in the business of storm chasing? Always in pursuit of the next tornado? Getting comfortable in the high of harm’s way?
Or are you in the business of calming the storms? Doing what you must to put yourself in the way of the rays of the sun?
The choice is yours. It’s always been yours. It’s time to write your own story and thrive within your relationships.
Feel the pen in your hands. Breathe in. Breathe out. Begin.
– Photo credit: Cameron Stow