Yesterday I was invited for a meeting over tea by a female friend. She had visited my Peace Camp workshop two weeks ago and after that experience a vision had developed inside of her that she and I should do a workshop together. I was very surprised and delighted with her message because I had the feeling that the particular workshop she attended was not so good. In fact, I had convinced myself that nobody would attend any of my workshops ever again because of my poor performance that day. Well as it turns out, nobody noticed. Quite ironic, don’t you think? Of course it’s my pleasure to provide you with vivid examples of how we color our ‘reality’ with our insecurity. At your service. But I’m drifting away. The idea behind the meeting was that we would explore the possibility of doing a workshop together on her favorite topic: relationships.
Let’s not beat around the bush: I think that relationships are very difficult and I don’t feel very successful at having or maintaining them. It has always been a struggle for me and still is. But I would like to design a workshop that gives some real tools and insights because I feel there is a great need for that. Ok, I need those tools and insights for myself and I need them right now, because my relationship is falling apart as we speak. But yesterday’s conversation gave me the opportunity to look at my own case from another perspective. And I would like to share what I have been learning although I don’t feel that I’ve got it completely yet. It’s still work in progress.
The first thing is that when we are still ‘in the situation’ it is hard to take a look ‘at the situation’. When we are caught up in the dynamics of the relationship (and I’m talking about problematic dynamics because that’s where I’m at right now) we get trapped in holding our own perspective for the truth easily. We have an idea how the relationship should be, how the partner should treat us and how we should feel (i.e. happy). If the picture doesn’t meet our expectations we suffer. We can suffer secretly behind our facades or more openly.
For some reason we hold the other responsible for our suffering. He or she has not passed our subconscious relationship exam.
Now what we should see is our own part. We should take responsibility for our own stuff. That starts with acknowledging it and being honest about it. When I speak for myself I see that I fear pain, grief, disappointment, rejection and because of these fears I become guarded and defensive. In fact, I’m waiting for her to make the ‘mistake’ she ‘always makes’ to justify my behavior. Deep down I’m waiting for her to disappoint me. And when it happens I blame her for acting out her patterns again. Obviously, acting out patterns is not allowed around somebody who is as mindful as me. I want her to just be herself, accept herself, love herself and act accordingly. What I don’t see is that I project high expectations on her, that I can be quite touchy and that I’m the one who is not accepting things as they are. Now what I should do is just tell her this (or put it on the internet): “Darling, I fear pain, grief, disappointment and rejection. That is my stuff. It’s not your fault”.
If we really start to look at our stuff we see that our stuff is old. It was already there before we got in the relationship we are in. And our stuff often keeps us away from experiencing love and connectedness. When we are not open, we are hiding something. We will never be fully loved if we don’t reveal ourselves but we hide behind our stuff anyway. Quite cowardly in fact, we sabotage our relationships when it becomes interesting, clinging to the unrealistic painless picture that our ego has painted for us.
Maybe, instead of walking away from our relationships we should stop walking away from our fear, cowardice and dishonesty. Let’s start with admitting to all expectations we have from the other. And, since we’re busy, admit that we feel wounded when he or she is not meeting those expectations. And finally, admit that it’s not his or her fault. It’s a start.
To be continued, I’m sure.