This is on Me: How to Create Meaningful Relationship Repair
Updated: May 17, 2020
This song is one of my absolute favorites. The pain, humility, tenderness, and hope are palpable. How often might our complex, human relationships bring us to such places- places where if we’re honest with ourselves and each other, there are more ways than one that we have contributed to ‘the wrecking ball it turned out to be.’
I imagine you’ll get more from this post if you take a few minutes to listen to this song before continuing to read. As you listen, reflect on your relationship. What thoughts, feelings, images come up? What meaning does this have for you?
This Is on Me
It's a common experience for us to become stuck in patterns of self-protection vs. connection in our relationships. When this happens, we often experience one another as prideful, guarded, selfish, or stubborn. Rather than trying to understand, we become preoccupied with being understood. We double down on our efforts and get locked into a vicious vs. a virtuous cycle in the relationship. It's miserable.
In the context of these patterns, we might start feeling hopeless about resolving a given issue or even begin to question the relationship as a whole.
We might believe things like,
This is going no where.
It's hopeless; you'll never understand me.
You need to see a therapist. Clearly your mother dropped you on your head!
I don't have this problem with anyone else, so clearly you are the issue here!
This is On Me
Listening to this song reminds me how often after being in these patterns for a period of time, we reach a breaking point, a place where we either write the other person off as hopeless and end the relationship, or begin coming to terms with the fact that we are not blameless and perhaps have contributed to the problems in the relationship.
Often, we discover it is more painful to remain in a blame game trying to pin the fault on the other than it is to take an honest look at ourselves, or seek some support to sort out what we could do differently to improve our relationship.
It is when we begin taking an honest look at ourselves that we have the power to create change. Of course, this does not mean that we can control our partner’s response, but it does mean we can finish becoming the kind of person/ partner we know deep inside that we want to be. If you are in this place, continue reading for how you might take important steps in healing.
Steps to Repair
Consider how you might make amends with your partner by apologizing for what you are recognizing about your own unhelpful patterns. You might want to share some specific problem patterns that you have become aware of, some situations you regret, what you have come to understand about how your partner may have been impacted, and what you would want to do differently if you had it to do over again.
If you take active steps to make amends/repair, you will want to be prepared for the other person to agree that your behavior has been hurtful. They may even share some details about their pain. They may be leaning into the experience of feeling understood in a way they have previously not felt understood. Staying in the conversation and validating your partner's feelings will further the repair. Continue to reach out with compassion as you come to better understand their pain.
WARNING: If you return to defending the behaviors you just apologized for, you will be taking away from yourself and your partner the loveliness of repair. Remember, it is okay to be human, to be growing and learning, to have made mistakes. Remember, you alone decided the pattern you just acknowledged did not work. You do not want to defend what does not work- that is silly.
Clarify Future Intentions
You might also clarify your intention for the future.
Your intention and your skills can be different. That said, it is important to clarify- are you apologizing and making amends for your mistakes yet intend to end the relationship, or are you communicating your intention to actively work on building knowledge and skills that will support creating a new kind of relationship for the future?
If the relationship has been too painful or too disconnected for too long, you may not be willing or able to actively work on creating something new; that is okay. You do, however, need to be honest with yourself and your partner if that is the case. You will do far more damage making false promises than bringing a relationship to a close.
Remember, all the considerations in this post are about you. They are about answering the question: what is ‘on me’ and what do I want to do about it?
If some of these ideas feel too complex to take action, Don’t! Give yourself time, and perhaps bring some of these thoughts into therapy or coaching to consider what you would need in order to get to a place where you can feel confident approaching repair and actively working on the changes you desire.
This Is on Me
Willing the way to come back from the edge. But the look in her eye says she's leaving. Things I should have been saying that I swallowed instead. How a silence can be so deceiving. And so we've begun the crawl. Trying to break the fall. Some kind of wrecking ball it turned out to be. This is on me. Caught at the ending and all I have is the hurt. Have I made him forget how to love me? Now it crumbles and crashes. Maybe there's hope for us. SB: Until we're one with the other. SB: Babe we can make this thing work. BA: And some phoenix may rise from these ashes. Both: But the fire comes first. Love we've begun to crawl. How do we break the fall. Some kind of wrecking ball it turned out to be. This is on me This is on me This is on me This is on me