Are you an Explorer or a Climber?
Not all mountain climbers start from the same place
Learning how to be the kind of person who can have a successful long-term intimate relationship is a big mountain to climb. There are many ups and downs along the way and it requires bravery and persistence. We face similar dangers – anyone can be swept off the mountain by some avalanche of external circumstances (illnesses, injuries, losses…). And yet, although we all have to climb the same mountain, the journey is very different for us all.
Some people come from wealthy mountain-climbing families. So they have all the right gear, athletic genetics and they start their journey being helicoptered in (by secure attachment and healthy differentiation in their upbringing) to a base camp half way up the mountain. They still have an arduous climb ahead of them, but they are well equipped and well rested. Also they will have guides with them – a network of friends and family who have climbed the mountain already and can advise them on the best route, where the pitfalls are, provide emotional support when the going gets tough, reassure them that the climb IS possible and the journey is worth the effort. No-one can climb your mountain for you, but this kind of support makes it much more doable.
Other people come from families who have never left the coast, who don’t believe that the mountain exists, let alone having an opinion whether it is climb-able. These brave explorers set off from the coast, with no gear, no accurate maps, to words of scepticism and doubt. They have to travel alone and wade through swamps, bash through jungle, and travel countless tough miles, all of it uphill, before they even get to “base camp”. Often they are exhausted and ill when they get there. In no fit shape, health or equipment-wise, to tackle a serious peak. They may need to rest and recuperate, get togther the right gear etc, before they can even consider tackling the summit. They may even be very pleased with the view from base camp and consider it enough of an acheivement to have reached the mountain and proved the doubters wrong.
SO be careful when you consider your own journey to improving your relationship – don’t compare your progress to others. Be realistic with your self about where you had to begin your journey from, how your upbringing equipped you, and how much support you have or haven’t had along the way. No-one but you really knows what it’s taken and what it means to be where you are.