This week I learned about relationship. I just realized that in almost every podcast episode, I have asked the guest at some point, “…and isn’t it all about relationship?”
It’s all about relationship.
Look, I don’t want to argue with you. Just take this one example: Painting the outside of a house. Which is, coincidentally, a project I started this week.
I’m going to fast-forward through the very real but also awfully cliche quips and scenes with my family — you can only imagine, and you're probably correct.
But I will share one moment with you. It’s a little vulnerable, but I believe I am not alone. So here goes:
I was at the end of the day’s painting, carefully painting the delicate spaces between the windows (you know, the little tiny squares that old windows have?) watched by the majority of the family who had convened on the porch to chat. Sun streaming onto the porch, we were laughing — it was lovely.
I thought to myself, “Hey, this isn’t so hard. This is actually kind of fun. Why didn’t I do this earlier?”
I wasn’t ready. We weren’t ready. All my energy had been going to maintaining. I had been pouring my energy into learning how to have a healthy family — and honestly, it was one of the most difficult things I have ever tried to learn.
I’m still learning. The one thing I think I know is that it is the only thing that actually matters.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Brené Brown
Every family is different and changes over time — please define yours. It can be you and your dog. You, your ten children, four cousins, and your gerbil. Your family can include the entire kith and kin you surround yourself with, or it can be you and God.
It’s funny. I strongly believe that until you can love yourself well and have deep compassion for yourself, it’s not possible to love others.
At the same time, it’s crucial to love others and keep learning how to love others better and more deeply, to develop compassion for people who are different — and that process helps you love yourself and have more compassion for yourself.
Who are you closest to right now? Where does your family start and end?
If you have landed with a bunch of nutbrains in your house or apartment or kitted out van, so be it. Start where you are.
Relationship is a delicate balance of understanding your true dignity and worth and seeing the dignity and worth in others.
Sometimes, you are not seen back. That means it’s important to take care of yourself and not give yourself to that person at that moment. People can change, but if someone doesn’t see you back, retreat for now. Stay safe.
Sometimes, you are seen back. That’s a relationship. From that point onward, you need to keep communicating back and forth, in words and actions, that “seeing”. It’s not easy, but it’s the only thing that matters.
So: Try to go through your week noticing. Notice your relationship with yourself. Do you see your dignity and worth? (Rejoice!) Is there someone whose dignity and worth you see as you go through your day? (Hurray!)
Remember, you are not collecting points here. There are seasons to our lives. Some seasons have many relationships, some are designed for more inner work. Whatever season you are in, it’s where you are supposed to be.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
If you feel like it, try this super cringy but also super amazing exercise:
Find a person you are in a relationship with and agree to try to look into each others’ eyes for a few minutes.
Try not to cry.
6. POD Poem of the day ee cummings: [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
7. Podcast (Brene Brown: Unlocking Us episode on Little Fires Everywhere)
8. Video (Brene Brown — RSA Shorts “Blame”)
9. Hero: Oprah Winfrey, Star
Why? I obviously have been feeling indebted to Brene Brown this morning, with two links. A bit overkill, I know. But right now, and I am pretty sure a lot of people agree with me, if there is one person getting it consistently right wrt relationships, it’s Brene.
But without Oprah, we wouldn’t be here. I am convinced. She created a space in the world — the world — for us to begin to understand that really, at the heart of it, our lives are about relationship, and that relationship begins with us.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Relationship (Sex) episode Thursday. My guest is the host of the podcast “Good Girls Talk About Sex”. This one is very frank. Very. Frank.