This is not about politics or the election.
It is about people whose emotional states swing wildly to extremes.
These seismic mood shifts, which often come without warning, cause us—if we have an unstable partner—to live in a state of perpetual readiness.
An alarming state.
A state sadly blue, because we never get to relax and enjoy the life we hoped for.
A state flashing red, its danger alert light constantly on.
A purple state, too, because the depths of despair are not blue but purple, a mix of the mean reds and the soul-crushing blues.
We try to stave off the crisis, to calm, to appease.
We sacrifice for the sake of others—and to survive.
We know we cannot stay, but we are terrified to leave.
We focus all our attention on each successive crisis, criss-crossing the swing state, averting if we can, resolving when we must, cleaning up the inevitable debris, stepping with worn soles on broken glass, cutting our tired fingers on the pieces of a shattered life, pieces we know in our heart will never fit together again.
And we know it is only a matter of time before everything we managed to repair comes unglued.
All this effort in the swing states leaves little or no time to devote to our own work. We feel stuck and stymied, unable to make progress on our goals.
We feel sick.
We watch with horror, then regret, as our precious dreams grow distant, start to fade, and then dissolve.
Living in a swing state forces us to abandon whole areas of our life map, to leave vast territories unclaimed, to forsake fertile, fallow fields for—in some cases—a whole lifetime and in others, until we find the fortitude to make the wrenching changes necessary to take back our lives.
There is wrenching not only in the separation, the untangling from a dysfunctional partner.
There is wrenching, too, in the realization that to un-choose something—or someone—we must acknowledge that we have chosen, that to exercise our right to say no and no more, we must admit to the yes that came before, that we must slip off the convenient cloak of blaming the other person and assume the uncomfortable mantle of responsibility for the state we have entered and stayed in and for the tough decisions we must make to escape.
Leaving the swing state is not easy. We were attracted to it for a reason, a reason only we can discover through hard emotional work.
But when we do free ourselves and start to draw healthy boundaries around our own emotional lives, the whole world opens up, and the sky fills with possibility.
Originally published on Tom Aplomb