RELATIONSHIPS – FULFILLING OR DESTRUCTIVE? Is there a choice?
Are you tired of wanting a fulfilling relationship yet when attracted to someone, or even married with a determination to make it successful, you find yourself dancing the same old (less than perfect) familiar steps? The following thoughts and excerpts from years of asking how people could prefer co-dependent attachments and behaviors over love, is an attempt to save you from decades of asking “why?”
This blog is woven into a tapestry with golden threads by some of the most profound prophets, authors and psychologists I’ve encountered, along with my own school of hard knocks and those who’ve come to me for help. Whether you choose to incorporate the wisdom of this tapestry into your life, or stay stuck in the old patterns imbedded in our mind by our parents, our cells by our ancestors and all around from a society based on shame and exploitation, is entirely up to you. My hope is merely that if you decide on the latter, you not worship your ignorance, claiming you are acting out of “love”.
“Marriage is the union of two divinities that a third might be born on earth. It is the union of two souls in a strong love for the abolishment of separateness. It is that higher unity which fuses the separate unities within the two spirits. It is the golden ring in a chain whose beginning is a glance, and whose ending is Eternity. It is the pure rain that falls from an unblemished sky to fructify and bless the files of divine Nature.” - Kahlil Gibran
Do you hope for that special, “natural” union with another? Do you long to create a joyous relationship that helps both you and your mate not only live harmoniously, but also grow and make strides spiritually? There’s an underlying instinctual desire to mate, yet in this global day and age, the person we attract can often prove to be less than encouraging and supportive. Our cycles perpetuate, the past repeated… and our children become our perfect mirrors, exacerbating our feelings and “mistakes” – just as we have done with our parents, and they with theirs. What we and our loved ones and children actually need as encouragement and support for unification, may surprise you to the core > to your very soul/spirit.
“Relationships are like a dance, with visible energy racing back and forth between the partners. Some relationships are the slow, dark dance of death.” – Colette Dowling
How important is trust? And who can be trusted?
Have you found yourself amidst that slow, dark dance of death? Some say we women created it hoping for that “happily ever after” we were raised to believe in. Traditionally, we had to move from depending on our parents, to depending on a man because he was the one who could work/hunt/provide. Yet women have stepped up as the leaders in most parts of the world, realizing the traditional role models weren’t working to create harmonious relationships. In the transitional stage, many men rebelled, believing it was the easy life to stay home and now want to simply depend on the women to do it all, be it all, as they sit back pretending they’re still the head of the household – the ones in “control”.
The less than positive junk in our DNA from tribal necessities for survival to the abuse suffered at the hands of imperfect parents plays the most significant role in what relationships we create. Without rising above or doing the work with ruthless self honesty and determination, we don’t know who or what to trust anymore. Both men and women seem to be struggling to carve acceptable paradigms.
If we’ve been abused, ignored, abandoned or anything less than the ideal bonding that is supposed to have taken place between a mother and her child in our generational history, the answer does indeed depend on who or what we trust for answers. Without knowing “the answer”, we maintain a state of stress or anxiety. In that anxiety, the answer becomes both illusive and clear at the same time. Our patterns repeat until we ‘get it right this time’ around. Can answers be found looking behind us, or in tradition, when everything has changed?
“What is an image if not just a description of the world that is bound to the past?”
- Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart
We often block the simple truth by staying in denial or not trusting ourselves to flow responsibly in each moment and therefore, into the future. We play out the very same denial we witnessed as children when forced to keep quiet, or trained to behave out of the shame and guilt we were convinced was our own to bear.
Healing the Shame that Binds You
In order to feel OK, we’ll disown vital parts of ourselves – our feelings, wishes, needs and drives. Yet they clamor for expression so we project them onto others, the “most primitive defense mechanism” – John Bradshaw (Healing the Shame that Binds You)
Our downfalls can be found in the contradictions as this old folk poem reveals are not new:
“Mother May I go out and swim?
Yes, my darling daughter,
Hang your clothes on the Hickory Limb
But don’t go in the water.
…our anxiety or that powerful bodily sensation that we sometimes call a “gut reaction” – doesn’t always help us to act wisely. We can misread the signals. Sensing danger where none exists. We can respond from a place of prejudice, defensiveness, cowardliness, misunderstanding, old hurts, or fear of differences.”- Harriet Lerner (Dance of Fear)
Our "gut feelings" are the guide for "our truth"
Intuition - our inner guide...
"I did not arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind." - Albert Einstein
I HIGHLY recommend cultivating your own intuition. A great workbook to do this is “Ignite your Intuition” by Craig Karges
Do we settle?
These days the cliché is becoming that life is merely a mirror of our own thoughts. Yes, we create the dance, attracting those who reflect and behave as we fear or struggle to understand. The misnomer is that they are an exact mirror of us. I believe it is a mirror of the dance we are accustomed to playing as Dr. Harriet Lerner explains in her book the ‘Dance of Intimacy’. If we are used to being persecuted, we attract someone who will prove our victim status is intact. If we have been caregivers to an unhealthy parent, we will attract the extreme addict who cannot take care of themselves. If we are accustomed to getting attention only when sick, we’ll create illness to perpetuate being rescued etc.
“When I say I’m codependent, I don’t mean I’m a little bit codependent. I mean I’m really codependent. I don’t marry men who stop for a few beers after work. I marry men who won’t work.” - Ellen, an Al-Anon member
Is this the golden ring in a chain whose beginning is a glance, and whose ending is Eternity that we want to repeat?
People do what you inspect, not what you expect…
A fundamental truth we often deny is that the only person we must learn to trust is ourselves and our capability to respond to all situations, rather than react. (Please see: http://hubpages.com/hub/HOW-TO-GET-OUT-OF-LIFES-MUCK to make getting out of react easier - and/or to understand the subconscious automation)
WHAT WE ACTUALLY DENY AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
“…a major source of toxic shame is the family system and its multigenerational patterns of unresolved secrets… Each (in a marriage) looks to and expects the other to take care of and parent the child within him or her. Each is incomplete and insatiable. The insatiability is rooted in each person’s unmet childhood needs… Now the battle begins! Who will take care of whom? Whose family rules will win out?” – Healing the Shame that Binds You
“Shame is a powerful force… Why are you feeling ashamed? Who have you disappointed? Whose rules are you breaking? Someone else’s, or your own? Maybe we’re doing something that’s causing us to feel legitimately guilty. Maybe we’re violating our own moral code, and guilt has become intertwined with shame. Sometimes, shame is a clue to something we legitimately need to change, but we probably won’t change until we get rid of the shame... Once we accept shame’s presence, find a way to make it disappear. Feel it intensely, talk back to it; get mad at it; tell it to go away; let it go…” Melody Beattie Beyond Co-dependency – and getting better all the time
In a nutshell, we must own it and accept responsibility for the underlying feelings and behaviors. With awareness, we can bring things to the light and then are able to release them instead of projecting them onto others as our parents did to us (and theirs to them). Trying to make THEM feel bad, believing it will make us look better, gets us nowhere.
Gary Smalley, in his ‘Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships’ talks about how we can offend someone so deeply that they literally ‘close their spirit’ off to us. He reminds how women and children feel things many times greater than men. Men may say something thinking it doesn’t really matter, “no big deal”, then wonder why the object of their affection backs away physically wondering how or if they ever even liked them (fight or flight). He shares how children become rebellious, choosing opposite beliefs to anything the parents put faith in when their spirit is closed too often. How their wife will get clammy hands at just the thought of being touched after being so offended and inspired to anger to protect herself.
Lecturing harshly or “logically” is exactly the opposite of what is needed when someone’s will has stiffened in anger. Leaving someone in this mode of anger, with their mind, heart and spirit closed, is the beginning of the end – the state of many marriages that go on for years. Reminds me of the saying that if you seek revenge, you might as well dig 2 graves - to want to prove ourselves right, or belittle another for feeling something so strongly, defeats us and them. When in react, we create the opposite to what we really want. No household is pleasant to be in when there is resentful energy. We can feel it even when around a couple playing this game of react to piss each other off. It’s also how too many parents leave their children, rarely admitting their own mistakes. As human beings, we are simply a bundle of energy made up of our past experiences, often completely unaware of where the anger is coming from or why because it may be in our very DNA from our grandparents or before.
The way to overcome and rectify things is first to remember how important the other is to you. When we care, we want to take the time to know ourselves, and them, to improve the relationship. If the other person refuses to try to understand themselves, or admit and communicate their own truth honestly, there can be no hope of unification because we must first have unification within ourselves. These are 4 healing steps when we have offended someone:
1) Get gentle and tender yourself.
2) Ask what you did wrong.
3) Seek understanding and listen.
4) Ask for forgiveness.
This of course can only be effective if our intentions are to create a “safe” environment, built on a foundation of honor, respect and honesty. To expect another to let us in, defining their deepest pain if those ‘secrets’ are merely used against them in the heat of an argument is to create the lowest, most painful ‘slow, dark dance of death’. The goal ought to be to create a healthy ‘nonattachment’ in order to grow spiritually. This is not at all the same as becoming indifferent to ourselves and our emotions. It is only through our energy in motion (e-motion), that we can move past the old shame and blame games, bringing their roots to the light.
Enchantment isn't real life
“The tending of a love relationship requires a constant balancing act between our needs and those of our partner, our wish for togetherness and our wish for separation, our wish for belonging and our wish for independence. For that balancing act to be possible, we must know what we are feeling. More important, we must know the foundation, the source of those feelings: first we need to know who we are. To be intimate with someone else requires being intimate with oneself. Although we need to trust others, even more we need to trust ourselves – trust that we can be just fine, even if we are not in an intimate relationship and trust that it’s in the loving, not in the looking for love, that as a human being we are at our best.” – Stephanie Covington and Liana Beckett “Leaving the Enchanted Forest – the path from relationship addiction to intimacy”
“Solitude is possible because you have done your ego work, especially the “original pain” work. With the completion of that work, you accepted your separateness. The fear of separation is why you stayed “fantasy bonded” in the first place. The fantasy bond is an illusion; the illusion that you will always be protected by your parents.
“Spiritual masters and saints have always practiced letting go. They call it nonattachment. They tell us that our suffering stems from our attachments – what we are emotionally invested in is what causes our pain… No single event has importance. What is important is the whole. The whole is what wisdom is all about… Unitive vision and nonattachment are the fruits of bliss… There are other fruits that flow from spiritual bliss. Some of these are serenity, solitude and service…”
[With this awareness], our soul begins to chuckle and we can dance the cosmic dance… Once you’ve accepted your separation and aloneness, you’ve come to believe that your ego is strong enough to take care of you. Your ego is strong enough for you to survive alone. This is also the precondition for meditation. As you come to experience the blissful union with God through meditation, you come to know your true self. You also come to know that there is a place where you are never alone.” - John Bradshaw
“Limited love asks for possession of the beloved, but the unlimited asks only for itself.” Kahlil Gibran
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other WHOLE against the sky. A good marriage is that in which each appoint the other guardian of his[her] solitude.” – Goethe
And thus, we learn wisdom:
“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh
and the greatness which does not bow before children.” Kahlil Gibran
Ironically, going back to how we were as children before acting out of shame, sabotaging our own and our lover’s or children’s success is the beginning of freedom and a healthy, mature interdependence. Then we know that we know, spirituality is in the now and we no longer choose the delusion that we are separate from our feelings, history, behaviors, and spirit.
“Born comrade of bird, beast and bee
And unselfconscious as the tree…
Elate explorer of each sense
Without dismay, without pretense…
In your untrained transparent eyes
There is no conscience, no surprise –
Life’s queer conundrums you accept.
Your strange Divinity still kept…
There were days, O tender elf
When you were poetry itself.” - Christopher Morley
We ALWAYS have a choice. The balance to understand is that as children, we do not have that choice. Thus, the way to recognize the slow dark dance of death in an adult relationship is when we allow someone else to suck us into their belief or create circumstances where they are response-able FOR us, or we response-able FOR them. The latter represents abuse, not love. As adults in a relationship, we are only responsible TO them - not for them as children. Once we know and incorporate that into our being, we begin to truly understand the absolute freedom of service and why we are here:
”To intuit and know your true self is a commitment to actualize that self in all beings, according to the primordial vow. However innumerable beings are, I vow to liberate them. “- Ken Wilber
For additional tools or recommendations, please feel free to ask about my book: “Illusion vs. YOUR Truth – increasing your personal power through clarity of choice.”