The Messy Middle

I grew up thinking that good relationships don’t have conflict. There is no fighting, very little arguing, and generally everything is perfect.

Over the years I’ve learned just how destructive those beliefs are.

We are human and we WILL catch feelings. We will get jealous, angry, hurt, scared, lonely, sad, embarrassed, and more. We have all of these emotions for different reasons.

Fear kept us from being eaten by a lion, and jealousy may have kept us from having letting another caveman steal our cavewoman.

Bottling up and trying to hide these emotions intensifies them or turns them into something completely different such as shame or depression.

The perfect relationship is one of complete authenticity, and the fastest way to move through emotion is to feel it and talk about it.

After years of “working on myself” through therapy, reading, and practice I’ve subconsciously developed this new form of hiding. I feel that after all this work I should be fixed and shouldn’t have “negative emotions” anymore.

When I catch myself in that type of thinking I remind myself of a concept Brene Brown talks about a lot in her writing called The Messy Middle.

A couple days ago Adee said something, and I became insecure. It was something very petty, and usually I would be embarrassed that I even felt it and try to hide it and make it go away being. I would also be afraid of her reaction to me talking about it. This time I decided to speak up.

Enter the messy middle.

For the next few minutes we awkwardly talked through this issue. I was uncomfortable. She was uncomfortable. Neither of us was clear on how to get through it. That is the messy middle.

What came next was huge progress. I had overcome my bad habit of hiding, she thanked me for bringing it up and not letting it build up, and then she gave me a fat kiss. Pretty standard.

The messy middle is a part of every fearful conversation and every big goal we set for ourselves. It is that space in which we don’t know exactly how things are going to go next.

“Is she going to leave me if I say this?”

“Is he going to think I’m selfish for even bringing this up?”

“What if this business fails? Will I ever be able to get another job?”

The messy middle is scary as hell and can be paralyzing depending on the situation.

All I know is this. The only way I’ve found through difficult conversations, and the times I’ve been most proud/fulfilled of what I’ve done is by going through the messy middle.

3 comments on “The Messy Middle”

  1. Agreed, I think of this as going through the fire. I used to be afraid of the fire and would do anything to shortcut and get around it. But it’s a very fulfilling feeling when you go through the fire and realize that you are alive and well.

  2. Spot on! In the past I have literally made myself sick going over the “what could happen”s whenever I was faced with conflict.
    It might sting to rip the band aid off but, oh man, the sweet relief after is so worth it.
    Holding shit inside just holds us back from moving forward.
    Loved this post 👍🏻

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