What is it about relationships that sends us on a one way trip to crazyville?
I know it’s not just me.
There’s something about being in relationship with other people that brings up all of our stuff, which is probably why A Course in Miracles describes them as maximal opportunities for growth.
But, while all relationships have the potential to push our buttons, romantic relationships are the ones that can really send us over the edge.
When we meet someone we really like we start to project all kinds of possibilities into the future, which we don’t tend to do when we meet a new friend. Why is that?
For instance, have you ever found yourself thinking about how, when you meet that special someone, you’ll really start living your life and become the amazing person you’ve always suspected you are? Ever found yourself putting off doing things because you’ll do them when you meet that special someone? Ever found yourself dreaming of finally being validated by the love of someone you can’t believe has even noticed you?
Case in point; A few years back I was contemplating renting an unfurnished apartment and buying my own furniture. I remember one of my friends at the time suggesting that maybe I should wait before buying my own furniture because what if I met someone and wanted to choose furniture with them? Thank Goddess I didn’t heed her advice or I would have been sleeping and sitting on the floor for years to come. On the other hand, it would have saved me quite a bit of money….
Anyway, back to the point.
The Special Relationship
What happens, then, when we meet that “special” someone?
We put immense pressure on that someone to fix us, to heal all our wounds and to be the ultimate source of our happiness. We put immense pressure on that someone and on the relationship to be “special”. This is what A Course in Miracles defines as the Special Relationship, meaning a relationship that’s based on the idea that we’re not whole and perfect exactly as we are and that we need something or someone outside of ourselves to fix us.
What can also happen is that we try and curate an image of what we think they want, we try and be the person we think they could love rather than the person we are. In short, we try to control something that’s way beyond our control, i.e. somebody else.
There are a few issues here (just a few!)
Firstly, when we try to be someone we’re not there’s no way we can create genuine connection, which begs the question why bother with the relationship in the first place? Plus, it’s by being our true selves that we’ll attract someone with whom we can truly connect.
Secondly, there’s no way we can keep it up. At some point our true self will start to shine through. Then what?
And finally, we end up disillusioned and disappointed when all our problems aren’t magically resolved and we start blaming the very person who not so long ago we believed to be the answer to our prayers.
What a pickle!
I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and, at times, hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
So, what, you may ask, is the answer?
Well, as Marilyn Monroe so articulately expresses, we have to get used to the idea that we’re not perfect and that’s OK. We have to have the courage to show our true selves and stop trying to be who we think others want us to be. Equally, we have to accept that others aren’t perfect and be ready to love them exactly as they are. In the words of JT, what goes around comes around, so we can’t expect to be loved for who we are if we’re not loving people for who they are.
We need to trust that no matter what we’ll be OK, that whether someone likes us or not, our true essence cannot be harmed. So often we try to control our way through relationships in order to avoid being hurt, but this is a surefire way of destroying our chances of creating true connection if ever there was one.
It takes courage to approach relationships with the aim of creating true connection but this approach is eminently more fulfilling than expecting that relationship to be the answer to all our woes.
What would it feel like to surrender to the seduction of the journey rather than fast forwarding to the climax? How many of us can honestly say we live like that? I know I never used to.
So often in life we want to know that the outcome of our endeavours will be worthwhile before we decide whether to invest our time and energy. We also want to know that there will be little to no discomfort involved in us achieving that outcome and that the outcome will be exactly as we desired.
But, in trying to predict the outcome of our lives we lose sight of the fact that there may be something even better than we could have imagined in store for us. We also miss out on the dance of seduction that is the journey, which often means we miss out on the joy of the journey as well.
In truth it’s living each moment, one at a time, that enables us to cultivate connection. Each moment is an outcome in itself. After all, there is no outcome other than the outcome we’re living in every moment. Any future outcome we envisage is simply an illusion.
Doing things differently
As always, I’m writing this from personal experience.
I’m currently in a “relationship” (a deep friendship rather than a romantic relationship) that’s one of the most challenging I’ve ever been in. It’s challenging me to be my true self, to be vulnerable and most of all to stay unattached to an outcome that I have absolutely no control over and that may not go the way I want it to.
I could choose to opt out, to decide that the vulnerability and uncertainty are too much for me to handle, that I’d be better off in the safety and certainty of being alone. Some days I almost do. In doing so, however, I’d be robbing myself of the chance to explore what might be, to cultivate a deeply fulfilling connection and to work through some of my insecurities. I’d also likely end up in a similar situation next time round. We keep getting the same lessons until we learn them.
Instead I’m choosing to take it step by step, I’m taking the opportunity to be my true self for once and to savour the unfolding. I’m finally choosing to learn the lessons. I’m choosing to be willing to face all the stuff that’s inevitably going to come up. I’m choosing to trust and be open to the expansion and intimacy that this relationship will require. I’m choosing to be remade by this relationship. I’m accepting my Divine assignment.
You see, this is how we blossom. When we finally realise that staying tightly furled and trying to control the outcome of every interaction we have is more painful than blossoming, that’s when the fun starts.
Bit by bit I’m experiencing the joy of what it means to be fully myself in a truly connected relationship, whatever form that takes. I’m experiencing the joy of being more vulnerable than I ever have been and realising that I’m OK, even when things don’t go as I’d hoped.
And that’s exactly how you start, bit by bit. It’s not about exposing all of your vulnerabilities to any Tom, Dick or Harry (who are they anyway, anybody know?). It’s about cultivating connection step by step, by building trust through small acts of vulnerability.
It’s certainly not the easiest path but is it really harder than getting to the end of your life and realising you never really showed up?
The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.
With love and devotion,
PS If you feel called to work with me then let’s talk. Just drop me a note via my contact page and I’ll be in touch to organise a time for us to talk.