I am hiking behind my boyfriend of six months through a forest of leafless trees on an early spring day in 1989. We are backpacking somewhere in West Virginia with two other couples and have taken an off-trail short cut, bushwhacking through young trees with bendy switch-like branches. Thwack! my beloved walks through a branch and lets it snap back, smacking me in the forehead. It hurts but I giggle and ask him to be more mindful of the branches. Less than two minutes later another skinny branch whacks across my bare shin, this time leaving a scratch. “Ouch!”, I exclaim. I ask again that he hold the branches rather than let them switch back. This is common trail courtesy anyway. He remembers this for the next couple of branches then returns to his original behavior. After the fourth or fifth round of thwacking and asking I realize that he is uninterested in changing his behavior and I purposefully lag far enough behind to keep from being hit every few minutes.
This was a defining moment. One of those bridges one crosses in a nanosecond from innocence into knowledge. Oprah would call it an “Aha, moment”. I realized this guy had little consideration for me and it was the beginning of the end of our relationship. That this behavior- the lack of consideration demonstrated by letting branches and briars smack into me -even after I asked him to be more aware- was an indication of how he would treat me for the rest of our relationship.
When a relationship is wrong, your instincts will warn you with a revelation. When it does you have a choice to listen or ignore that inner voice. In every failed relationship I’ve had, I can recall one of these instances, a window into the future that indicated exactly what I was getting. Experience and heartache has taught me to heed these moments and it least make a conscious decision to stay or go rather than simply ignoring the signs and returning to the blissful blindness typical of the first several months of a relationship.
Not in tune with your instincts?
The best way to get acquainted with your inner knowledge that can reveal great truths out of seemingly everyday moments is to spend time with your self. Weekends alone. Keep a journal. Meditate. Take long walks in nature. Vacation solo. Whatever it takes to get into your own head and learn to hear your greater intelligence. I promise it will serve you well. Then the next time you feel that tightening in the pit of your stomach and a revelation smacks you in the face you will know weather to keep walking with that person or to turn around and walk the other way.