For the longest time, relationships were a scary thing for me. I didn’t want to be alone… but found it hard to be with others. The slightest upheaval or dispute in a relationship and like Humpty Dumpty, my world would come crashing down… “all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men.” I felt that if something went wrong in a relationship, it meant it was the end of the relationship… “couldn’t put Humpty together again.”
Yet what I am seeing, feeling, and understanding about relationships today is something vastly different.
In the past relationships were a security blanket and a way of belonging – in fact a need to belong. My wife and I had even attended couples counselling workshops and sessions where we were told, and fully accepted, that we were each angels with only one wing and could only fly by holding each other. It was a model of co-dependence that meant for our relationship to grow, we had to keep having issues to deal with; we had to have a reason to hold on tightly to each other.
The very foundation of our relationship was based on a needed security, which meant that any proposed (or needed) change to that foundation would end up as a defensive battle. Each time one of us started to grow and develop in a different direction, we would claw the other back into an embrace that we thought was security; but in reality, it was suffocating.
At a Universal Medicine workshop many years ago, we were presented with a simple truth… we do not need to be in a relationship to be or to feel whole, that this feeling comes from within. When we connect to that wholeness we can then choose to be in a relationship or not. This meant no longer needing to be with the other person but appreciating what they brought to our life so deeply that the choice to be in a relationship with them was a no-brainer. More importantly, we also brought an appreciation of what we offered, because we knew more about who we were!
It took a couple of years to really live this simple teaching, and there were some very uncomfortable moments between my wife and I, because she was living this reality earlier than I was. Having someone not need you anymore is both confronting and liberating. For me this was the end of the relationship. I was Humpty Dumpty laying shattered on the ground, until I realised that ending a way of relating is different to ending a relationship.
Whilst we all have patterns of behaviour, these patterns or ways of relating CAN change but it doesn’t mean it is the end of the relationship. At times it feels like the pattern is all there is and we become fixated on fixing the other person. But if I am more than a pattern of behaviour then the person I am relating to is more than their patterns as well. It is the more that I want the relationship with, so that is what is offered.
So rather than threatening the end of the relationship, the change being offered is simply an end of THAT way of relating to this person. The hard part can be that some people are more committed to that pattern of relating than they are to the relationship.
Indeed this happens sometimes – you can see the pattern being clung to like a life raft and the person preferring to float away than step onto dry land. It can hurt when this happens because it is no longer the existence crisis it once was. This Humpty Dumpy handles himself with more care now and has grown his own set of wings. Which means I no longer need ‘all the kings’ men’, because when my relationship with me is solid, I no longer break when I fall.
Published with permission of my wife.
By Joel Levin