CW: Mentions of trauma and abuse. Reader discretion is advised.
“A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”– Elizabeth Gilbert
Pursuing a committed relationship with someone you deeply love and care for should sound like the stuff of fairytales, right?
Now, while there are those wonderful, butterflies-in-the-belly moments, those exciting times learning, exploring and growing together, the fairy tales forget to mention other things. For example, that no matter how much you love one another, there will be arguments sometimes. You’ll have rough patches, dry spells and times that you really need at work through it together, in order to come through it a stronger couple.
One thing that stood out when I first met my boyfriend, is after years of convincing the friends around me that I was indeed ok (I really wasn’t, post traumatic stress and the anxiety and depression that came with it was still waging war on me) he could see right through me, saying, ‘No you’re not. What’s up?’
I couldn’t hide, and I couldn’t gloss it over. He wanted to know and he wanted to try and help. I’d be able to talk things through with him and wouldn’t feel judged or that I had to watch what I was saying. I could be completely honest in everything. I can be completely myself with him, good and bad.
But one thing in particular I’ve learned since being in a long-term committed relationship, is that your love, whom you connect with and is your partner in crime, can be like a mirror. You will see how they see you, and in turn, how you see yourself.
The mirror will show you a side to yourself you’ve never seen. You can learn to love yourself how they love you. But it can also reflect back things you really don’t like about yourself. The unhealthy ways you react to arguments, the learned behaviour from others that actually, to your surprise, isn’t the bedrock and foundation of a healthy relationship.
Me and my boyfriend were talking recently about when we were first together, and the growing pains and issues we worked through. Me having untreated post traumatic stress at the time, it didn’t take much to trigger me. Him having bad experiences with being emotionally abused and cheated on in past relationships, he had his own triggers and behaviours that he needed to work on as well.
We had to work out the chinks in our armour, the loose seams in the garments. Like any relationship, no matter how much you love each other, you’ll have your times when you really need to work at and through trying times.
As well as being each other’s lover, companion and friend, we are each other’s mirror. One such example, his committment to sorting out problems and arguments in a healthy way showed me that how I approached them was very unhealthy, which he has helped me change for the better.
My insight into different perspectives and a more open approach to people helped him come out of his shell somewhat, though by his nature still being a guarded man. Some wounds go so deep the effects never fully heal.
Being able to show a mirror, to each other, has only been able to be done through honest and open communication. We’ve seen and experienced what destructive relationships can do and have, and still do, put a lot of work into ours to make sure it is healthy and good. Because we’ve got a whole lot of love there, it’s work we’ve really committed to do.
Like in the quote, our mirror shows us what is holding us back and how we can move forward. But as works in progress, we see the promise we made to each other and the love we have. We see the love the other has for us and still wonder why the hell they love us of all people, but we do. We see how they see us, and it keeps us going through the good and bad.
And we see them being at our side as walk the path and grow together.