We all need a certain supportive quality from our partners from time to time; when couples come in to see me, so often this is what they have lost. We all need someone to believe in us and encourage us to take risks, and love us even when we fail. This past weekend I was thinking about the significance of having this kind of support as I observed my brother and his new wife. I saw the value of being with a partner that encourages you to be a better version of yourself.
The scenario: my brother wanted to hike down to this waterfall that we saw from the road. It was a waterfall that both he and I used to walk to as children. As we piled out of the vehicle, he looked at his wife and said, “You’re coming with us!” She didn’t respond but I could feel the hesitation as she looked down the pretty large hill to the waterfall. She said, “I don’t think I can.” His response without a moment of hesitation, “Just do it, you’ll be fine.”
His wife’s hesitancy was not out of line. Five years ago she was in a terrible 4-wheeling accident in Mexico and was told she would never walk again. She broke multiple sections of her back and has steel rods keeping her standing up straight. She can walk, although much slower than the average person.
Later that weekend, I asked her what walking was like for her and she shared, “When I walk, I have to focus on every muscle in my body to get myself to move. If you are talking to me while I walk, I am most likely only getting about 50 percent of what you say because I am trying to get where I am going.” She is often scared to cross streets with high volumes of traffic because she literally cannot get herself out of the way of a car if for some reason the driver does not see her.
So imagine for a moment you are in her situation, looking down a steep hill thinking your partner thinks you can walk down it.
Guess what – she did it. She went all the way down, and all the way back up. Entirely on her own. My brother stayed close enough to grab her is something crazy happened, but he also let her fall and slide back down the hill a few times. He continued to say, “You got this, you are so strong. You can do it. Come on. Let’s go.”
Once we got to the top, her legs shaking (probably from a combination of fear and exhaustion), she said, “that was the hardest thing I have done since my accident, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it.”
I imagine she would not have even tried if she had not been with someone like my brother. He does push her to be stronger, take more chances and get all she can out of what she has.
When we think about being in intimate relationships or even friendships with people, we might overlook the value of someone who pushes us to be a more full version of ourselves. So I’ll end with a couple of questions: what if you allowed yourself to be someone that encourages and cheerleads for your lover? And what if you allowed them to be that person for you? We must encourage risks and not let fear or insecurities keep us from being our best selves.