I woke up with the Howie Day song "Collide" stuck in my head --
"I'm open, your closed
I'll follow, you'll go
I worry I won't see your face light up again
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills your mind
I somehow find you and I collide"
I've been thinking these past days how some relationships are more like collisions - at once traumatic and transformative. I've also been thinking about the book "Eat Pray Love" (Elizabeth Gilbert), particularly the section where Richard from Texas discusses the concept of soul mates. Gilbert quotes Richard as saying:
"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake...they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave...[his] purpose was to shake you up...tear apart your ego...show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life..."
And I think this is really at the root of how we can fiercely love people who infuriate us. And why it is so difficult to let people go out of our lives even when you can see it's time to do just that, because as far as they have pushed you forward, at a certain point they start holding you back. You literally are not the same person you were when s/he came into your life, and if you have returned the favor, neither is s/he.
But who wants to give up someone who both unwaveringly supports you and calls you on your crap? Someone who knows your buttons and will carefully, gently push them, instead of tiptoeing around subjects you'd much rather avoid? Someone who, as crazy as they make you, also makes you want to be a better, more authentic version of yourself? Someone who you love arguing with because you are so grateful for the push-back, so grateful that someone cares enough about you to find you annoying, melodramatic, and ridiculously immature - and say so (but who also never fails to tell you how great you are, either). As opposed to someone who shuts down, or is so afraid to lose the semblance of relationship that you have because they don't want to upset you, who doesn't want to deal with the dark stuff we all hold within us. Yeah, it's exhausting and terrible, but...where are we without it?