January 6 - Relationship Reality

 

There is nothing that can make us think that we “need” to engage in addictive behaviors faster than our relationships! If we are not currently in one, we wish we were, and often when we are in one, we wish we were not!

We call it love…or sometimes home…and oftentimes romance. It is the foundation of our dreams, the subject of so many of our movies and novels, and the ultimate desire of our hearts and souls. It is often elusive and complicated…it is more about the spirit than the body. It can appear to break our spirit and put it back together again…and then it has the nerve to demand that we become the very best that we can be.

It is exciting when my “Prince Charming” seems to appear out of almost nowhere and sweeps me right off my feet…but often it is not long before he turns into a “pesky toad” once again. The magnificent woman of your dreams can become the solitary star of your worst nightmare. It can appear like we were right back in our childhood homes once again… perhaps feeling powerless, or stupid, or unimportant.

And if we want to fall back in love all over again, if we want to reclaim our adult perspective, it is necessary for us to remember almost everything that we have tried so hard to forget all our lives.

And this is absolute perfection of relationship. This, in my mind, is what it really is all about.

Throughout the years I had watched many of my relationships dissolve. I felt embarrassed about it…still do from time to time. “I should have known better,” I thought. But I didn’t.

I eventually realized that if I wanted to have my relationships survive and actually even thrive, I would have to learn to see a bit differently, hear a bit differently, and react a bit differently! Well, make that quite a bit differently! In order to do this, I needed to fully understand what I was trying so hard to avoid… I needed to look at exactly what I was thinking about the “other”…and realize it actually was the very thing that I was thinking about myself.

I didn’t know how to have a healthy relationship. As I was growing up, my parents often did not have the time or the energy to notice what I needed…their lives were consumed by trying to understand my father’s alcoholism. As a result, I never felt that I mattered very much. I felt lonely and alone. If I tried to interact with my parents, I immediately felt like a pest, banished to my room because they didn’t want me to have to see their pain.

So I saw the darkest part of my imagination instead. I “saw” that I did not matter. It felt just like I always felt after the initial “Oh, this relationship is wonderful…I am home at last” wore off. It would happen once I felt safe…once I felt loved. For it was then I would let my guard down. It was then it mattered if I lost him. It was then I was sure that I would. After all, remember, I was the one who “didn’t matter.”

I did not even know what mattering felt like. I did not even know how to recognize when I did. I could not hear that I mattered…nothing he could do would get through. If he brought me one rose, I thought if I mattered he would bring more. If he brought more, I thought he should know I only wanted one.

If he wanted to watch television, it must be because I did not matter. If he bought the wrong kind of butter, it was because he didn’t listen so I must not matter. If he wanted to play tennis with the guys, I could easily make up that I didn’t matter.

And because I would always find the “perfect” spiritual partner, when I became upset that I didn’t matter, he would hear it as criticism and withdraw emotionally, so then I really “knew” that I didn’t matter!!!

In a feeble attempt to try to feel like I mattered, I even named my company Mattermatics, Inc. But soon I learned that mattering is an inside job. I had to get in touch with what had me think that I didn’t matter so that I could look at it again to make certain that what I had declared as a child was true. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was not. Imagine my surprise when I started to hear things that suggested I might matter. Imagine my surprise when I started to understand that the very things I experienced that were painful as a child mattered very much. They were part of my gift.

Today I no longer look outside of myself to ensure that I matter. I try to live my life in a way that matters, so I can have a relationship that is more about giving than taking. My “mattering” is an inside job, and as a result I realize that I am not defined by a relationship, but in reality, I define the relationship by who I am while I am in it.

What do you feel in your relationship that you used to feel as a child? Do you know why you felt this way then? Are you willing to go back and try to understand the origin of your thoughts more completely? Are you willing to see more of yourself and become the very best you are capable of being? Are you willing to put the reality back in your relationship by taking full responsibility for who you are and how you are able to see others?

 

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