Yeah, another metaphor. I’m full of them lately, probably because I’m overly sensitive to my surroundings right now and I’ve spent a lot of time by myself over the last two days, so I’ve had time to think. And as my brain usually does when I’m doing menial tasks, it takes off on its own and draws little connections in the invisible three-dimensional space surrounding me, like I’m playing connect-the-dots.
Today I was patching holes in the walls at my old house, dozens of holes, three hours of holes, eleven colors of holes…pull out the anchors, spackle the holes, scrape off the excess, move on to the next…get out the paint, dab dab dab, rinse out the brush, move on to the next…pure tedium.
But monotonous repetition lends itself to thinking. And with each hole I filled in, I noticed that while it looked moderately better, you could still tell there had been holes in the wall. No matter how badass my spackling job was, you could still tell that I had attempted to fix a blemish and it wasn’t completely erased. And while the wall wasn’t riddled with holes any longer, it now just had patches all over it, like little band aids pretending that everything was just fine. Nothing to see here.
I do that with relationships. They become shot full of holes, one at a time. Sometimes those holes hide behind whatever happens to be covering them up, but when everything is stripped away and the walls are bare, the holes are glaringly obvious. They are ugly imperfections, scars representing injuries that occurred and were never repaired. A battlefield of damage and neglect that accrued over time. When there were just a few holes in the walls, it was easy to overlook them and focus on the areas that hadn’t been damaged yet. But when there are dozens of them, on every surface, even when you repair them, you still see plenty of evidence they were there, and things don’t ever look the same.
I try to fix things. I try to fix relationships. Even the ones that have a ton of holes. I don’t know how to not be the fixer. I fixed the empty, bare walls of my old house today because I was worried that the buyer would get mad if I didn’t. I didn’t want to risk rocking the boat.
I make mistakes. I contribute to the Swiss cheese effect on my relationships. But when things get rough, I try, at great length, to keep the peace, get out the spackle and patch things up… no matter what. I do whatever I can to make things better… but sometimes it doesn’t matter. Patching things up doesn’t mean the damage isn’t there, just beneath the surface.