Sharing Our Knots: Learning Vulnerability and Privacy in Relationships
There is an incomparable beauty in being known. It’s that moment in which our intricacies are understood, complications perceived, and innate qualities appreciated. We long for that ultimate connection, that counterpart who embodies the childlike wonder of this Atticus Poetry quote:
“She was the most beautiful, complicated thing I’d ever seen. A tangled mess of silky string. And all I wanted of life, was to sit down cross-legged and untie her knots.”
Those knots are our own. In their gnarled nature and gripping hold, we feel the relentless ties of insecurities, worthlessness, anxiety. When we experience the pressure of inadequacy, that is our knot. When we feel without value, that is our knot. Whether born into conditions beyond our control or tossed by the throes of varying life challenges, we have gone from spun silk to a tangled mess. A yearning to be untangled, untwisted, and treasured is instinctive.
But the promise of being known brings with it a risk of judgment, a possibility of betrayal. So often we rush into relationships with our knots on our sleeve, begging to be understood. We prioritize vulnerability over organic connection and wind up more muddled than when we started. This is cause for careful discernment. We must recognize that we are not disingenuous if we are guarded; we are not impersonal if we are cautious.
A yearning to be untangled, untwisted, and treasured is instinctive.
In a world of constant sharing and status updating, privacy has been radically devalued. We’ve become accustomed to the idea of instant intimacy, where virtual strangers become followers of our everyday life. This understandably translates to our relationships. We over-share, yet are met with underwhelming response. What we must differentiate between is our desire to be known and our instinct to be accepted.
So, we’re left with a lingering question of how and when to divulge our knots. Who will sit cross-legged and untangle those strings?
First, we must practice patience in intimacy. Putting ourselves to an internal ‘test’ with questions such as, Why am I sharing this now? Am I attaching expectations for how he or she will respond? If our relationship were to sour, would I regret this moment? This will help minimize the tendency to speak now and think later. Our intuition can serve as a strong barometer so long as we’re willing to listen to it.
Second, we must understand that everyone is human. Every relationship will have flaws. And awaiting your “Atticus Poetry” companion does not mean perfection has been reached. But what may materialize from that type of gradual connection is a mutual compassion for one another’s shortcomings. An extension of grace will be our greatest asset in relating to them.
Lastly, our knots are not final. We are more than the sum of their parts. We hold a unique beauty that will captivate on its own.
We are spun silk designed for relationships. We are compelled to pursue our “Atticus” on the earth. And when those bonds are established, we must remember them as a gift to be treasured, guarded, and carefully preserved.
Have you encountered the beauty of this affection or the pain of neglected knots?
Photo via Hart & Honey