Relationships require nurturing, all of them, not just the ones you have with a significant other. Every single person you come into contact with is a tiny seed waiting for food. And while some require light and warmth to grow, others thrive in cold, dark places.
People are prickly. They have all sorts of thorns and bristles that they may not even be aware of, or maybe they ARE conscious but feel naked without them. Either way, those pointy barbs can cause an awful lot of damage if you let them, which is why humans must prune themselves regularly.
Nineteen years ago—Wow. That hurt just to write.—I attended an emotional boot camp. One of our assignments was to forgive someone who had caused us pain. Sounds simple, right? It wasn't. Tasked with calling that person(s) to tell them you had forgiven them, they walked us down the hall to a room packed with small desks and phones.
I remember sitting at the table, staring at an empty wall, wondering what to say when the phone stopped ringing. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe that brutal two minute call, and it wasn't until later that I understood why. After sharing my experience with the person who convinced me to sign up for the workshop in the first place, he just smiled and said, "You didn't forgive this person. Try again."
What the hell. How could he say this to me knowing how hard it was for me to make that call? Without so much as a flinch, he looked me in the eye and told me that my apology was inauthentic. Then, we went round and round for what seemed like an eternity, tears shooting out of my eyes like a splash pad at a theme park, until he said something that stopped me dead in my tracks.
"This person isn't sitting at home, crying over what happened thirty years ago, you are. You are the only one suffering, and you've been doing it since childhood. How much longer are you going to keep this up?" His brief lecture ended with a tough question that changed my life: "Is it worth all of this pain to be right?" The answer was no.
The next morning, I made another call; only this time, my forgiveness was genuine. It was the most powerful conversation of my life, but only one of us felt the impact. I was thirty-four years old that day, and even though that relationship is no longer viable, the weight from decades of pain instantly vanished the second we hung up the phone. Still, I find myself licking old wounds, sobbing over that which I cannot control, and struggling to let go of righteousness at least once a week. Enlightenment is a beautiful thing as long as you practice what you preach.
Two things are guaranteed to block love and cause pain: refusing to let go of being right and failure to forgive. Those issues will haunt you for a lifetime if you let them. They will destroy your livelihood and lead you down a very dark and lonely road. Before you put down that watering can and stop nurturing affection, ask yourself what is more important: being right or maintaining that relationship. Refusing to forgive someone—regardless of what they did to you or someone you love—will ultimately lead to sorrow. My advice is to let that shit go before it kills you because it will, and no one should ever die of a broken heart.