Published on
October 8, 2012

Arguments normally start because one person wants to be honest about how they feel. Do you ever notice that? They are opening up. Becoming vulnerable. Letting the other person see a part of himself that is usually hidden. Whether that be pain, hope, or fears, they are revealing what's inside. Not many people get to see that. It is a very difficult process; being vulnerable.

That's why I don't understand why people avoid arguments. Sure - one could easily get hurt, or wound another, but if we could only learn how to recognize what's happening, discover how to navigate an argument correctly, then at the end of it we could find ourselves that much closer. When two people expose themselves, their inner workings, their heart, to each other, no matter the circumstance, we are at risk of being fully known - little-by-little. Understanding this could save your relationship.

Imagine two people standing across from each other. Each has their ribcage open, like a wardrobe, and their hears glow from within their chest. It's beautiful, this vulnerability - and when one attempted to express themselves, the other was forced to as well. Now imagine one of them is reaching out, approaching this openness, maybe wanting to get a better look. This comes as a surprise, and the other deflects, forgetting that they wanted this. This is when the wall begins to form. Right now, however, it's only a brick for the other to stub their toe on, but that's enough - because it hurts. The reaction has already started.

These are our defense mechanism - and it is quite the mechanism. 

His is recalling past relationships.
Hers is becoming more volatile.
His is pushing her away.
Hers is bringing up his mistakes. 

Either way - it is all selfishness.

Of course - it only started as a brick. It wasn't intended to hurt. You just got scared. You didn't mean to. Sound familiar?

So now it is the other persons turn to try and get closer - wanting to fix what just happened - but in the process they trip over a tiny wall; put up in defense. In the grand scheme of things, it is more of a speed bump, a curb, but it's enough to make you skin something, or fall flat on your face. The pain becomes greater. Then the bricks just start piling on. What started out as a tiny reflex has grown into this. At first it was easy to navigate around the construction, to see the other person, in an attempt to get closer - but one can only run into walls so many times before it becomes unbearable. Ultimately you have two significant walls separating two very hurt human beings, and no longer are either of them trying to reach the other person, because they can't get beyond their respective wall anymore. They are trapped by their own selfishness. They can't see the person on the other side. Still vulnerable. Still open.

Eventually the walls are so high that in order to communicate they have to attach notes onto small rocks and throw them over to the other side. Have you ever been hit by one of those rocks? No one really cares about the message tied to it. All they remember is the pain.

Love is War.

This is the truth about walls. They are nothing more than defense mechanisms. They hurt those closest to us AS they are trying to get close to us. They obscure our vision, and prevent us from communicating what's really going on within.

When the walls get this high, in order to get to the other person, you have to get to their wall first - and there's only ONE way to bring that wall down. It takes something big. A well placed shot. You might have to climb over your own wall first - get to the top - past your own Selfishness. Your own Pride. Your own Hurt. This is why it's so difficult for people, but at this point it is the only way to move forward. You have to man the cannon at the top, and give it all you've got.

To say, "I'm sorry."

Then the other wall goes down. It's amazing what a well intentioned apology can do to bring down one's defenses. Of course, there's still one more wall, and now they can see that. Hopefully they know that your wall was only places there because of your hurt, and now they have to bring it down the same way you did. They have to know that if they don't they'll just run right into it, and hurt themselves again - restarting that reaction.

Bringing down a wall means nothing if the other person doesn't attempt to do the same. Remember - walls are a defense mechanism, and they were never intended to hurt. Account for the hurt that you caused, and those walls come tumbling down.

In my acting class our teacher has us stand across from our partner before we begin an exercise. We are to take each other in. "Look at the person across from you," he says. "This is what a human being looks like. They have pursued dreams, overcome obstacles, and made sacrifices to get where they are right now."

Some tribes, I hear, have a different kind of greeting then our usual "Hello" or "Hi" or "What's up?" You may have seen a version of it used within the movie Avatar. Their form of greeting involves looking at the other person, taking them in, and saying "I see you."

Now imagine two people standing across from each other. Tired. Bloody. Dirty. Damaged.
But still exposed. Still vulnerable. Acknowledge that person. See them. Their hurt. Their sacrifices. Their failures. Their dreams. Their hope. Embrace them. This is how we finally come to a resolution.

Mattias is an actor, writer, filmmaker, and editor currently living in Los Angeles, CA. He often writes about his observations about life, the human condition, spirituality, and relationships. He also enjoys writing about movies, pop culture, formula one, and current events. Often these writings are 'initial thoughts' and un-edited, as authentic as possible, and should be considered opinions. If you're interested in commenting on his work, or continuing the conversation, you should consider following him on Twitter or share an article on social media, where he would love to engage even further. Consider subscribing via RSS for more.