We’re all familiar with the experience of coming together in relationships where we lean on each other for support, and yet end up feeling dependent, and often stuck – engaged in drama.
Whether we’ve experienced the pain of this in our own intimate relationships, or observed it in others (perhaps our parents) and in a promise to ourselves we won’t go there, have avoided intimate relationships, there’s no avoiding this ‘dance’ that’s SO common in our culture. Much of our entertainment today is based on variations on this theme where those we’re in relationship with as seen either as our ‘salvation’ (“you complete me!”) or as ‘the problem’ (“I can’t ___ because you ___”).
|Using my hands to illustrate the three relationship ‘dances’|
In following the call of our lives we begin to engage the process of disentanglement – learning to not abandon ourselves as we have, instead creating new patterns where we love and stand for ourselves.
For the partner who is being disentangled from, this change in the relationship dance can lead to a huge sense of betrayal. The feeling of their life being ripped away, the pain of loss, and the sense of helplessness when their cries for things to change back are no longer being responded to in the accustomed way can be huge. The choice to experience this as Life’s invitation to something more than they’ve known before is a challenging one.
Partners who courageously choose the path of Conscious Uncoupling and instead of turning away turn to meet the pain have the opportunity to reclaim our power and re-create our lives in ways we’d previously only imagined.
Whether we’re initiating the creation of the new pattern, or recovering from the loss of the old pattern, the choice to create a new relationship ‘dance’ is what’s before us.
We may gasp or gulp the air of our autonomy. Either way, we’re often alternately washed over by waves of the terror of our alone-ness (“what will I do, how can I survive here?”) and the relief of experiencing our independence.
As we keep our first attention on deepening our relationship with ourselves, we also experience the freedom of creating our lives in a way that’s in integrity with the deepest parts of who we are.
But this is not a one-off, presto changeo, fix it and we’re done, thing!
Navigating the dance together …
Together we’ve been on that journey, and I’ve SO appreciated the way when challenges have arisen – which of course they do! – we’ve practised acknowledging and owning what’s ours, each of us taking responsibility for soothing and mentoring the parts that are still feeling shaky or afraid. Not living with the drama of blame or shame is an incredible relief!
Yet recently we both noticed that something felt missing. While things were going smoothly – no big drama! – we weren’t experiencing the juiciness of intimacy flowing between us in the way our hearts were longing for. Naming this was painful and scary, particularly because we had no ready answers as to why. Nor was the way forward clear.
When I checked in with myself, and felt into the clear commitments of our wedding vows I discovered something priceless. We’d said to each other “I make these promises to you with an undefended heart, and a commitment to share fully my thoughts, fears, dreams and desires.”While I absolutely value the decrease in drama, I recognized there were parts of me that were holding back and not speaking about things I knew were triggers for Bruce, or that I feared would be painful for him to hear. At some level that may sound like a wise and caring idea, but in my case, the deeper truth was not so virtuous.
I didn’t want to experience his response, and the fear of that meant I was containing myself. There were chunks of my life I wasn’t sharing with him. Oooomf. No wonder it felt like there was less aliveness between us! This was definitely NOT the way I’m committed to living.
In making my amends to myself and to him, we connected and I shared with Bruce my uncomfortable discovery.
Simply in the powerful combination of his gracious receiving of me, and his acknowledgment that (for his own reasons) there were things he sometimes feared speaking to me, we could immediately feel the increase in the flow of the juicy energy of intimacy between us.
By turning towards and opening our hearts to each other and to the things that had felt uncomfortable, we also had a clearer sense of direction as to where to place our attention in order to allow even more authenticity, freedom, ease and juicy possibility to emerge.
What about you? The reality is we can, and often do, cycle through all these phases, but where do you most commonly find yourself in your relationships? Is the pain of that leaning dependency often your experience? Are you on the journey back home to yourself and greater independence? Is the easy flow of the give and take of interdependence where you spend most of your time?
Remember, no make wrong here!
We’re on this journey of co-creating the future of love and RICH Relationships in our world. And as I often say, it’s not that we’re slow, we’re actually exploring on the edges of consciousness. We’re often forging new ground for ourselves – committed to holding possibility, and honouring our humanity even when we find ourselves not yet fully living our commitments …