This month I am reflecting on the concept of rupture and repair. Particularly as it relates to our relationships, be they our close and intimate ones or even those that exist in the public sphere. I have come to learn, and accept, that rupture is a part of life and a part of being in relationship with myself and others. I cannot fear it. Well, I can, but then that means my response to it will be very different as opposed to a response of acceptance and curiosity.


Ruptures can take many forms. Misunderstandings, miscommunication, misinterpretation, can cause a rupture. And yes, we also have the garden variety of a screaming and shouting match, I am referring less to these although the same principles apply. For without rupture, we are not afforded the opportunity to deepen our understanding of ourselves and others and therefore miss a chance to create yet more intimacy in our relationships. Intimacy flourishes in conditions of honesty, vulnerability, and love.


What does it really mean when someone says, “I hate confrontation?” What I hear is, “I am afraid of disagreeing or speaking my truth because the consequences may be too much for the other person and for me” Perhaps that is a generalisation but, if we are terrified of confrontation then it may mean we are adapting our behaviour in situations that we feel we might encounter someone who doesn’t share the same views, thoughts or decisions as us. The key is to have faith in ourselves to trust what we feel and want to express is OK.


In early development, when children are not allowed to feel, express and own feelings of anger or opposition, they learn to suppress them inside and instead offer up more “acceptable” feelings and behaviours that often please the parents or main caregivers. Does this sound familiar to you? Do you sometimes feel one way and then hear words coming out of your mouth that express something very different? This mismatch between how we feel and what we do can often cause great internal distress. Part of therapy and counselling allows for this to unravel and be made sense of together with the therapist. Rupture happens in therapy too! Why? Because often the therapist becomes a projection screen against which unconscious processes are played out. This can be so rich and full of self-discovery for both the client and the therapist.


Repair is the act of not only saying sorry but as the word says, putting something back together again. This requires some insight, humility, and a willingness to want to clear the space for the relationship to keep growing. Repair requires owning the part of the rupture or at least owning your feelings about it honestly. It opens the door to a dialogue that hopefully, if received in the same spirit, can lead to a deepening and ongoing relationship with the other.