Do you remember playing “locked in the closet” as a kid? My friends, my brother and I were always doing thing like that to test each other and see how mentally sturdy we were. One time we sat, shoulder deep in our still icy in-ground swimming pool just to see how long we could stay in. The water was so cold it made your skin feel like it was on fire.
Anyway, back to the closet. We’d play locked in the closet when I was in the 4th grade. It wasn’t a closet as much as it was a large storage room with no windows and just a door. We would have to go in there and see how long it took for us to get freaked out. No one was actually locked in, but being in the middle of a black room with nothing but space around you made you feel as if you were locked in space. At first, it was terrifying just standing there. With no sight, nothing around us, and virtually no contact (except feet on the floor), it felt like something would come from the darkness and take you away at a moment’s notice. Every little sound was magnified and sounded scary. We did this for weeks and the terror eventually subsided because we figured things out. We figured out that not only was it the darkness that made us safe and brave, but when the lights came on, it was just a room. A short while after that, we started playing hide and seek there in that dark basement and it became even more exciting. Not only had we adapted to the darkness, but we learned to use it to our advantages when hiding..and especially when seeking.
By now, you’re probably wondering where I am going with this. Relationships are sometimes scary. If you’ve had a history of bad relationships, or parents that had a bad relationship, or have ever been hurt…entering into a good and healthy relationship can be one of the scariest things to go through, like standing alone in a dark room. You don’t know where to go, where to look, what to be afraid of, or what to do, and the fear of losing the relationship can be as frightening as the fear of something coming after you in the dark. Little things become big issues for no apparent reason, and can seem like big mountains, when in reality they are nothing more than minor issues.
We hold these fears close and use them as a shield to fend off the ones that love us (or that we love) because when we’re there in that relationship, the fear is the only immediate thing we have and everything else is the darkness of the unknown. What if she stops loving me? What if he leaves? What does she really mean by that? How can I make him happy for the rest of his life? These are all unknowns and can be as scary to face as losing your ability to breathe.
If you turn on the lights, you’ll see that in reality, it’s just a relationship. You can see everything clearly and you begin to realize that everything good in that relationship is something you have the power to affect and the power to control. You can be more giving, you can be a better communicator. You can love without consequence, you can let down your guard, and you can let people in. Every fear you have is still there, but it’s up to you whether you go through the relationship being afraid of the dark or embracing it. Face those fears and put them to bed. The darkness holds freedom and happiness..it’s just up to you to find it.
By the way, I was listening to this song while writing this: It’s “The Sky’s Gone Dim” by Johann Johannson and I think it’s perfect. It starts with sadness and despair, but by the end is hopeful and resolute.