Lifetalk with Roberta Russell: Reversing Ruptures

By Roberta Russell

After months of being blissed out by the thrill of romantic love, my boyfriend Manuel and I found ourselves on an emotional desert. I had rarely been apart from him since we met, but he could no longer stand to even look at me. I did not recognize him. Nothing we said to each other seemed to get through. We were frozen. A deadening pall had come over us.

Photo by Manuel Lopez and Roberta Russell.

My repeated attempts at restoring our blissful state failed. In the dead of night I found myself alone, sleeping on the couch, wondering, “How can this rupture have happened so quickly and irreversibly? Does he even know I am gone?”

At 1:30 a.m., EST, I texted a distress signal to my man-savvy friend, Kirston, in California. Repair in relationships takes more than an apology. I needed help.

“Manuel and I are still together, but we seem to have lost the joy.” Without delay, Kirston wrote back, “I hope the joy comes back—love has so many phases.” I shot back, “It feels more like a funeral than a phase.” Nevertheless, slightly more optimistic after the palliative exchange, the notion that this breach might be temporary gradually took hold. (Had I spoken to the wrong “friend,” our rupture might have been more damaging. I am careful to speak about my vulnerabilities to people whose hearts are in the right place.)

Manuel and I are still together and in love again. I have become quite the analyst now. I am looking for real communication and a joint adventure fueled by love and curiosity, not fantasy.

Ruptures in relationships are crucial parts of transitioning to real love, without the reassuring illusions that fuel our bliss during the intoxicating dance of falling in love. Healing takes place in the repair of ruptures in love, and in therapy. It is through these processes that our life-giving feelings of attachment and belonging are strengthened. The fear of loss, because by now there is something very real to lose, motivates us to try to talk and listen before we fly away in self-righteous hurt. We name what is happening between us with patience and compassion. Listening to each other without interrupting and repeating back what we understood until we each feel heard has yielded miraculous results.

Often ruptures in relationships revolve around money, a subject that is even more taboo than sex. What are you buying? What are you selling? There is not an easy fix. It occurs over time. The remedy is guided by highly conscious and strong motivation.

I don’t want to be put off. It pays to know what is happening.

Years ago, I made a few rules for myself regarding my quest for mutual love: if you find yourself spending time with someone, don’t stay in a negative state, pay attention, be compassionate and kind. Move closer; otherwise, have the courage to move on.

Happily, Manuel and I are now thrilled to be on new territory.

According to RD Laing, “How you treat people is the treatment.” You can hear him expound on that on this link.

Roberta Russell is the author of R.D. Laing & Me: Lessons in Love with R.D. Laing (Hillgarth Press, 1992), Report on Effective Psychotherapy: Legislative Testimony (Hillgarth Press, 1981, 1984, 1994), and Report on Permanent Weight Loss (Columbia Academic Commons, 2017).


Leave a Reply