Rupture and Repair

science of relationships

The research in neuroscience is saying that rupture is one of the most important things that can happen- because it portends repair. And repair is the point of relationship.

I love this. It means, truly, that it is OK to make mistakes, to be messy, to “mess up.” More than that, is says it is NECESSARY to do so. It is crucial that we rupture. And it is crucial we repair. A really cool point, we also don’t have to repair with the person we ruptured with!

Research says it is OK if parents have ruptures in front of their kids, as long as they also do their best to repair in front of their kids. Kids can feel and track energetic exchanges. They know when you are really present in forgiveness. So if you aren’t, well, just name your process. Some examples are “I want to be done with this, but it’s sticking in my system for some reason,” “It is hard for me to find forgiveness right now, but I know I will,” “I am going to be patient with myself while I explore what this rupture has to teach me.”

One of the really interesting things I often consider when I wonder about rupture is, How does repair look for the other person? Sometimes repair means a hug, a word, an apology. Sometimes it is an action, a chance to try again, a movement. Sometimes it is space and respect, sometimes it is being heard. The list goes on and on. It is often composed of both people’s love language. It is often more rooted in a larger repair of each individuals system. In fact, I would dare to say, that each repair we have the courage to show up for, is linked with a larger shifting of patterns in family, societal and cultural systems.
It can be easy to expect repair to be your way, when it might actually need to be done in a variety of ways.

The other night my son and I had a rupture. He snuck his meatball to the puppy, from the kitchen table. I know, I know- not a huge deal. But, I don’t like feeding dogs from the table. I think its bad manners for both the dog and the person. I know this maybe makes me sound pretentious, but its the truth. :).
But, that’s not my rupture. My rupture was that he was sneaking it. And he wouldn’t have told me if I hadn’t caught him. He would have let me believe he had eaten it so he could have dessert. My rupture was the deception.

I have a trigger around deception. And I know that. Also, it was the end of a day of parenting and I was taxed out. So I asked for my husbands help, to help me keep my response and the repair clean. My husband helped create an experience that allowed me to have what I needed, an acknowledgement and an apology. Then- here is the really cool part- he also helped my son have what he needed, which was a re-do.
This was an incredibly important moment in my learning as a parent, because when my son asked for another meatball, I had a moment, when I was not fully in my adult brain. In this moment I did not want to let him eat more food. I felt tense and resistant and almost got stuck in the tenseness. There was a sheen of righteousness to my feelings, and a tightness to what I “expected” the repair to look like.
I recognized this tensing in my body and thoughts. I named it to myself, and I took a breath. As my breath moved through my body with intention, I was able to recognize my resistance and in turn, I could recognize my sons offer of repair.
As I did that, these new thoughts came into my system.

How am I to determine what his repair looks like?

How can I expect him to offer me repair, but not offer him his choice of repair?

The only way I can navigate this is by hearing what he needs to integrate and process his experience. He also gets to repair, and his repair right now is the chance to try again.

He ate his extra meatballs with gusto and expressed his apology again, unprompted. We truly repaired. Not just an “I am sorry- How can I help”— but a deeper connection of our nervous systems. We sat together, and talked. We explored what sneaking means and when it might be “fun,” and when it might be “mean” or an untruth.

This moment. This one tiny moment, brought all this up for me.

So, cheers to rupture.

And to all the different movements of repair.

My hope is that repair is possible for you. That you are able to recognize which relationships create ease around repair, and which ones are sticky. And, that all parties needs can be seen and acknowledged in the repair.