I learned to crochet and knit, but what I really enjoyed was playing with the yarn and our cats and unraveling the knots that inevitably revealed themselves either through that play or just the nature of working with yarn around a houseful of kids.
Unbeknownst to me then, there were quite a few valuable skills gained in learning how to unravel the knots. The most important was that if I pulled hard on the yarn around the knots, I usually ended up with either a tighter knot or would break the yarn--it didn't take much harsh effort to create a useless mass.
I easily spent hours pulling knots apart and there was sometimes an intense, obsessive commitment to unraveling them once I started. Other times, it was easy and effortless--my mind and fingers could easily see what needed to happen first, next and so on, to disentangle the snarls. Sometimes, though, for whatever reasons--dinner, bed, frustration--I would have to put the knots down before they had been dissolved.
I recently noticed in a meditation that the same is true with relationships. Sometimes they get entangled with misunderstandings and arguments that can easily be unraveled if addressed immediately. Otherwise, if not attended right away, the snarls and snags can add up and pretty soon the relationship is in utter chaos and seeming disrepair.
I once used to think that I had to untangle all the misunderstandings and entwined snarls that arose in my relationships, but no more. In some instances, I've chosen to lay the relationship aside--walk away--because the knot had become the size of Antarctica and any attempt to unravel it would take years. In these cases, I had to determine if the relationship was worth this time and effort to me. In other words, was the yarn so attractive and valuable to me to spend the time meticulously seeing each knot that has formed and unraveling them? Only I could discern that for myself.
In other situations, I've learned that trying to pull the knots apart with an unwilling partner only ended up tattering, breaking and ruining the relationship--much like pulling too hard on the ends. Wisdom has shown me it was best to just move on.
Surprisingly, on occasion, when I've put a tangled relationship down for a while, it seemed to have magically untangled itself and I could pick the relationship up in a new way, almost as if it were never tangled.
While the easiest, of course, is to keep the yarn untangled by keeping it in order, life inevitably presents our relationships with misunderstandings that at least temporarily appear to be a knot. Recovery principles also remind me to untie those knots as soon as I've become aware of them, lest they create unnecessary suffering for others and internal knots of resentment for myself.
Are there any knots in your relationships? Are the relationships worthy of their unraveling? Is the other willing to unravel them with you? If so, in using the analogy with yarn, mindful attention to not pulling too hard on the ends will create the best conditions for successful removal of the knots. This can include:
- Approaching the situation with gentle, but determined attention.
- Creating space and time for the unraveling to be unhurried.
- Being flexible and bending to maneuver through the holes when they are presented.
- If the knot is getting too tight, backing off for a time and loosening up as much as possible before re-approaching it.
- Looking for patterns that may repeat themselves, as you may be able to unravel a lot of little knots with one simple maneuver or behavior change.
- Keeping in mind the beauty of the yarn and what can be created when the knots are released.
Continued attention to the knots as they arise and addressing them at the earliest convenience can help keep the relationship running smooth and allow the natural creations that arise in the relationship to do so more gracefully.