The other day I asked my partner to do something for me and he did a really shitty job.
I started to roast him about doing a shitty job, and then all of a sudden I was crying and justifying the importance of the thing I had asked him to do.
I stopped talking and just felt. I cried and searched my body. I found that it was connected to my voice. I was feeling so many things about my voice, experiencing so many moments of my voice not being heard or not mattering, projecting more into the future about my voice not being heard or not mattering, or mattering too much. I flicked through stories, just feeling the common element between all of them without resting in any one of them. The common element cannot be adequately put into words. That's how I know I got to the truth of it. The common element was tension in my throat.
I pinched the base of my throat, sitting in a small tight ball. I cried and looked pointedly in a direction that was not the direction of my partner. I could feel him sitting there, being with me, ready to take responsibility for the moment occurring between us.
I kept the pressure on the tension in my throat and slowly I was able to relax. As he saw the ball of me unfurling, he reached out and touched my shoulder and I nuzzled my face into his hand. I put my chest to his chest and cried into him.
I said "I love you so."
And he said "Even though I'm bad at things?"
I said "We both know that's not what's going on here."
I told him it was related to my voice, and how far beyond the current moment these emotions extended. So far that they actually had nothing to do with this moment. The emotions extended so far that they were independent of any and every story; they were alive in my body, and all of those stories and experiences were there to validate the presence of those emotions, not causing them.
I said "This isn't about you being bad at things, and if you being bad at things was a problem, this is not an appropriate request or even an appropriate time to make a request." I continued to share with him bits and pieces of what I had discovered about myself in the moment, leaving him and the moment between us completely out of it, because it was not relevant. I continued to address the somatic reality of my body, with his presence and assistance.
This story represents the entirety of why our relationship has been conflict-free and process-free for well over a year. Actually this is the closest we have ever come to what someone might call a conflict, because in my initial ramble I was implying that his behavior was what was upsetting me.
Let's break down the elements of conflict-free living that this story represents:
I am clear that my dysregulation can never be circumstantial--it can only be alive inside of my body. I am clear that what is happening for me is mine, and it is not for him to own or fix.
I am clear that requests happen with an open heart, one that is equally happy to hear yes or no. I am clear that the time for making requests is when both of our nervous systems are regulated.
I am clear that I do not want to make any requests that imply he has any responsibility whatsoever for my emotional state. I am clear that I do not want to create any more stories to validate my emotional state, that my emotional state is valid and real and important without any stories attached to it.
He is ready to sit beside me in silence. He is prepared to weather the storm and he trusts that the storm is not there to blame or punish him, and that he will not be harmed even incidentally.
He is open to love me and unattached to ideas of his own perfection. He does not defend himself. He does not need me to be in a different emotional state than I'm in at any moment for any reason.
He is attentive to my body and my nonverbal cues about my availability and he honors my availability.
We are both ready to own all of our own shit as well as the way we participate in the creation of the experiences we each have together.
If there is ever a problem, he is my teammate in solving it. There cannot be a problem that pits him and I against each other.
Most of all, I know that there are no problems, there are only experiences. I am clear that I am here to have experiences. I am clear that some part of me craves each experience I have, to the point that if I believe my experiences are circumstantial I will create the circumstances required to validate the experience I'm craving. To allow myself to have it.
With this level of intimacy, of agreement with reality, there's simply no place for conflict to enter the picture.