The Puzzle

Growing up, we have all experienced the challenges of puzzles. As toddlers, they are simple. Giant, wooden blocks with pegs on top for our tiny fists to clench. We marvel at our accomplishment after we stumble with our hand-eye coordination to match the shapes designed to help us learn. As we move past those toddler years, they become more fun. We methodically place the pieces to complete the dress of the princess or engine on the train, pleased at the final product as we master that final bit.

As an adult, I realized that relationships are just an advanced, complex puzzle in which we are trying to fit the pieces together to make a bigger picture – satisfying and complete. 1000+ challenging pieces – far beyond the simplicity of the ones growing up where princess Belle awaits completion.

I recently chose a puzzle that looked amazing on the box. Piece by piece, I first completed the frame. I worked hard. Dedicated. Devoted. I loved this puzzle; already feeling like it would be my favorite. As I continued to work on the inside of the puzzle, the picture started coming together. I am excited. I’m getting there. Once all the pieces are together, it will be perfect. It’s just going to take some time.

So often, I craved help with the puzzle. At times, a few pieces would get placed for me. I told myself that’s all I needed, just a piece here and there, because the puzzle was going to be amazing in the end as long as I worked hard enough on it. So, I continued to revolve everything around completing it. I couldn’t wait for it to be finished. Like a toddler mastering that last pegged piece, victory would be mine.

I did eventually finish the puzzle, but with little help. I gave it my all. I put all the pieces together. But looking at it, my heart sank. After all that work, something felt wrong. Incomplete. What was missing? All the pieces were there – I put them together myself – yet instead of being happy, I was sad. It was supposed to be beautiful. All that work was supposed to have paid off. My masterpiece was supposed to have been complete. How could something I worked so hard on be so disappointing, when I was confident it would be perfect?

And then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. A force so strong that it made me want to rip out my insides just to relieve the pressure….

The interest in the puzzle was one-sided. What was appealing to me, was not to him. And, while he didn’t object to the idea of puzzles, this one just wasn’t what he would have picked out for himself. So, while I got it with the intention of working on it together, I did all the work. And for that reason, the puzzle was never going to be appreciated the way it should. So, I scrapped it.

I still like puzzles. I like how they take commitment and dedication, hard work and effort. I don’t regret the time spent on that last puzzle because I learned from it. I learned that if I want to build another one with someone in mind, then we will pick it out together – something we both want. We will sit down and equally work on it’s progress. We will help each other when we can’t get a piece to fit and we will appreciate the ones as they come together as pictures. When it is done, we will be happy because we rose to the occasion and conquered the complexity of those pieces while embracing the fact that we completed it – this puzzle we picked out. Together.

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