What does love share with being really, really drunk? Commonly I hear people say that if you add a few drinks you see a person’s true colours. I beg to differ. Drunkenness brings out a person’s garbage. All that is unhealed and suffering and struggling in them. The drunk aren’t mean people who have been keeping their malevolence under wrap during the daylight hours, like some vegetarian vampires. I mean I kind of like Edward and the gang of sparkling, flying romantic fools, so I am not one to criticize. Nonetheless, when you heal the pain, the serum has nothing to react with.
Similarly, we all hear of these wonderful, amazing PEOPLE, who are killing it at life. Everyone loves them, everyone thinks they ooze charisma, charm, brilliance. Sort of the most interesting wo/men in the world, UNTIL, you get them one on one, inside the four square walls of a RELATIONSHIP (*screams). And then and there they become, terrifying. Controlling. Dramatic. Needy. Dismissive. Cruel. Narcissistic. Angry. Jealous.
We don’t want to believe it. How can we believe it? What do we know about Suzie from the next cubicle anyhow? She must be crazy to be dissatisfied with dreamy, funny, clever-witted Johnny. But turns out Johnny’s not the ALLSTAR he’s cracked up to be when you get him in close quarters. So either Johnny’s faking out the rest of the world, or something goes haywire when Johnny’s drunk on love punch.
The romantic relationship is a level of intimacy that is not required of any other relationship. I mean, it involves actual NUDITY, for one. It involves sharing of living space, sharing of finances, sharing of daily routines, sharing of FAMILY, sharing of parenting. We may get these things from other people, true, but typically in smaller doses, sporadically, and not all rolled into one package. Kind of like deep frying a Mars bar, or stirring brownies and chocolate sauce into your ice cream. That is all a lot of pressure on one dessert to deliver (hang on a sec, I need something from the kitchen). Now I am not saying it’s wrong, or making a case for diversification of the roles we play. I am not saying we need to outsource or husbandly and wifely duties. But I am drawing our attention to the level of intimacy required by romantic relationship. It’s pretty intense.
Romantic relationship is THE main arena in which our unmet needs and hurt plays itself out. It is the arena in which otherwise sane and appealing individuals become, well, less so. It’s easy to say so and so was such an asshole. Or so and so was a needy bitch. We get triggered and we start vomiting judgments. We psychoanalyze. We assess. We negotiate. We call up our girlfriends, hair-husband, the esthetician and our gay bestie, Donnie. We bro-down over beers. We ruminate. But there’s more to it than that.
And wouldn’t you know it, there is an extraordinary choreography of what triggers us, and what triggers them. After years and years and years of relationship examination, it’s like watching the Russian ballet. Your childhood abandonment pirouetting into the arms of their pressure to be perfect. Your fear of not being seen, swan diving into their overcompensation for not being the golden child. Your people pleasing, their narcissism. Your caregiving, their shut down. It’s quite a spectacle but no one’s actually having any fun with this. The fun starts FOR ME, when I crack the code, and can start reworking it all.
Because this business is fix-able. I mean it would be easy to say, who needs LOVE anyways? And I am not going to blame you for “Going your own way”, to quote Fleetwood Mac and a recent men’s movement. We don’t have to be in RR (romantic relationship) to survive life, to be “happy”, or fulfilled. BUT, aloneness is not the end game in our quest for fulfillment, peace, joy, and enlightenment either. And the truth is, MOST of us seek it, crave it, enjoy it, and want it, even if our relationship with RR is a love hate one. I am not here to make that decision for you, but I will gently suggest that if you are seeking or avoiding romantic love, then you are having a relationship with it, and will benefit from nurturing that relationship into its healthiest potential.
But what about all of that self sufficiency, I am okay alone, I buy myself flowers, don’t need a Joe or a Josephina to be complete kinda jazz? Is that WRONG, Erin? Am I weak, foolish, dependent, or less than in some way to be searching for love?
HARDLY. Relationship can grow us. It can open us up. It can heal us. It can bring us to greater joy. It can deepen our sense of security. It can be greater than the sum of its constituent people and parts. It can serve our emotional health. It can serve Higher Love. But it often goes off the rails, and leads us astray, and our scared self gets in there and says, “I will protect you from terrible evil vulnerability. Stand back, little one. No more dating for you. We’re doing it SOLO now. We don’t need anyone.” Or maybe something like “There are NEW rules now. No more jerks. No more bee-atches. No more putting up with BS!” Now that voice thinks it’s the smart loving inner parent who’s gonna clean up your affairs, but it is not. What that “caregiver” is really telling you is that it is not safe to be vulnerable, and that somehow your hurt was the fault of your lack of strength, insight, boundaries, backbone, kahunas, and maybe a few other controversial body parts, and now instead of a hug and some Ben and Jerry’s you have to choke back your tears, erect an invisible north wall in your chest cavity, and never be so stupid again. Winter is coming, and you’d better buy an ugly fur hat, maybe a balaclava, possibly some chain link armour.
There is a critical difference in our needs as people, and partners. Many a relationship goes the way of the blue screen of death, to randomly pull in an IT reference, in the confusion of these needs. When we are carrying hurt, when we didn’t have certain needs met growing up and often in past relationship, we unconsciously send out a message, like a bat with infrared, that communicates our abject fear, and it goes like this “OH MY GOD. WHAT IF YOU NEVER GIVE ME THIS THING THAT I NEED???!!!” At 1000 infrared decibels. And that signal is usually quite effective at finding it’s perfect mate in suffering, which will call back something along the lines of “WHAT IF YOU NEED MORE FROM ME THAN I CAN GIVE????!!!!” Raise you a question mark.
If we are going to have a shot at a relationship working for us, we are going to need some understanding of all of this inconvenient NEEDING, I am sorry to break it to you. The things we have to fix for ourselves. The bottomless pit items, where no amount of our partner saying “you’re the fairest in the land” is going to correct for our fear, and we’ll all drown in the bucket vortex trying.
Romantic relationships do have their own needs. We need all kinds of good things to feed an RR and keep it thriving. Companionship, communication, passion, sharing, sharing vision, mutual support, to name a few. We don’t get into a relationship to prove we don’t need anyone or anything. Well some of us do, but I’ll address that a few paragraphs down. It’s not the manifesto, let’s just say.
When we have this kind of insight, or some actual support with this, we are much less likely to find ourselves in a stormy fight about an issue that is ten degrees removed from the actual thing we are upset about.
It’s hard to try to love someone, while simultaneously sizing up their arsenal.
It’s hard to be married to someone, and on watch for attack, or invasion, or failure to support.
It’s hard to give yourself to the enemy.
And when you are constantly protecting yourself, they are all the enemy.
I think we are ingrained with this mentality, by the WORLD, and the same world has forgotten to teach us that beyond the love fix, the shining movie moment, which I am not against by the way, I love rom coms too, but beyond that there are amazing things we can be doing with and in a partnership. Like unconditionally supporting one another at being our healthiest happiest best selves. That’s a good one. At achieving the stuff it’s hard to do alone. Right??!
Well Alanis and I are here to remind you.
Sometimes we trick ourselves, wouldn’t you know it. We avoid, we sabotage, we choose relationships on account of all of that fear based training, as a way of avoiding pain.
Some of us know it. If you ask us we flip up the collar on our black leather Fonzie jacket and give a nod. “Ya. I’m cool. I have walls. Don’t mess with me.” Some of us twist our faces in astonished revelation when someone (say, me) gently points to the possibility that we chose all of those emotionally unavailable partners because it kept us safe from facing our fear of worthlessness, or abandonment, or grizzly bears. JK about the bears. They are why we avoid exercise, not relationships.
Come close for a moment I want to share a secret with you. MOST of us have some unhealthy stuff playing out in the relationship arena. IT DOESN’T MEAN SOMETHING BAD ABOUT YOU. The odds of it not happening, are kinda similar to the odds of never making a mistake at anything ever. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. And, it can be really FUN when you start to figure it out, because you don’t have to keep doing it again. And again. And again. And again. Like hammering a really sore thumb. Or banging your proverbial head against the wall (insert gif of cute girl with puffy hair banging head against proverbial wall). Less pain=more fun.
Were you cheated on, disrespected, fed crumbs, left on hold, not committed to, misunderstood, spoken to abruptly, condescended to, judged, unsupported, abandoned, insulted, abused, not seen, lied to, made second fiddle, sexually neglected? Did you maybe dish some of that out? I am not saying it’s not you, but I am saying IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
Do you play a part in the patterns of your life? Yes. You do. That is not the same as something’s wrong with you or you attract shit.
You can understand them.
You can heal from their fall out.
You can choose to understand yourself.
You can choose to love yourself.
You can cultivate a loving, healthy relationship.
I believe in you.
You are the common denominator in all of your relationships.
If you suspect or know you are getting in your own way, but you don’t know how, well that is what I am here for. If some hairs rose on the back of your neck, somewhere along today’s musing, well there is a good chance this kind of help is for you. Reach out and send me a note.
Right now I’m offering a crazy special to make it easy for you or a friend or a loved one to do just that. Email me for details.
— Love Erin
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