Phew. I’m writing this after just returning home from a community circle in support of completion (and potential up-leveling) of a relationship I’ve been in for the past year.
Most people reading this will not even have known we were in relationship. And that’s because I mostly kept it hidden. I called it privacy, but really it was secrecy because our relationship brought out too many parts of myself that I have disowned and wasn’t ready to share.
Before I could be public with our relationship, I needed to reclaim those parts, own them and love them. More on that below.
But first, the completion ceremony.
It was intense and beautiful.
I was confronted and held.
He took ownership and saw.
We both did.
The most brutiful (as Glennon Doyle Melton calls it — that piece of life that is both brutal and beautiful) piece that I saw was how much we love each other, and how we are the perfect reflections to call each other into the highest and best of ourselves, if we choose to take it.
And, how much we mostly didn’t do that, but instead spiraled into comfortable patterns of co-dependence and addiction.
I saw how I was blaming him for my addiction to relationship with him. And, as a result of that blame, I was able to distance myself from him, and cut him out of my life because he was bad and wrong. When the truth is that, yes, he engaged in some bad behaviors. And, so did I.
My bad behaviors appeared more benign (and more “normal” perhaps), and as a result I was able to justify them, making me right and him wrong.
When the truth is that I am afraid of how much I am attracted to him, and in that attraction, I have not trusted myself to honor my boundaries in relationship with him.
And so I have allowed my boundaries to be crossed repeatedly.
That’s mine to deal with.
In order to deal with it, I have to learn to be with my attraction and my longing and remember that it’s not always healthy to satisfy it. Because to satisfy it means slipping back into a comfortable pattern of both over-giving (and becoming resentful) and over-receiving (and taking away his power in the process).
Within that pattern, I find myself wanting to know where he is, what he is doing, and influencing his life and his choices.
And it’s not for me to know. Nor is it for me to force him into the vision I see of him because I know how good it would be for him, if only …
It is my job to be my highest and best self and to let him figure out his own life, and love him through the mistakes, even if I need to do that at a bit of a distance because that’s what my own boundaries require.
One of the most fascinating things he said during the completion ceremony was that he engaged in his bad behaviors because he felt more afraid of the relationship succeeding than he did of it failing. That was not what I expected. And at first I felt hurt by hearing it.
But, when I think about it, it makes sense because if I feel into myself, I can become aware that I felt that too.
If the relationship succeeded, I might feel trapped. Oftentimes, I did.
And while I can only speculate what it might be like for him, I can imagine it might be the same for me.
If the relationship succeeded, he would either a) have to be controlled by me and abandon the parts of himself that want to do what they want, or b) not get to engage in the shame patterns that those parts of himself thrive upon. Or both.
Again, this is only speculation. And I can speculate about him all day, or the healthiest thing I can do is find where what I believe to be true for him lives within myself.
What I can do is discover through the powerful reflection of this relationship where I am being ruled and run by my disowned parts.
The first thing that I see is that I do not know how to remain in relationship with my addictions without cutting them out of my life. This is what most of us do with challenging relationships.
Instead of learning how to be with them, we cut them out.
It’s easier that way.
And it’s what most 12-step addiction programs teach. If you are addicted (or in any challenging relationship), cut it out.
I took the opposite tact with my kids’ dad, and learned to keep him in our life through the challenges. I convinced myself that I only needed to do that there with him because he was my kids’ dad and if he wasn’t, I would have cut him out long ago.
But the truth is, I don’t want to cut anyone out, ever.
The world I want to live in is one in which we do not choose to cut people out of our lives to keep ourselves comfortable, but instead one in which we learn to be with each other through the most difficult relationships and grow more connected as a result.
I know this may be an unpopular view. And yet, when I feel into the reality of a world that truly works, I don’t see how it can include cutting people out because they aren’t the way we want them to be.
Isn’t that just a perpetuation of the war so many of us claim to not want?
The alternative has seemed to be to put aside my own needs and let everyone in, including all of their bad behavior. But that doesn’t work either because it takes too much energy, and ends up leaving us all drained and resentful.
Today, MysterE, the man who held the space for our council/gathering/circle (whatever you want to call it), showed me where I only know how to “cut out” that which is not serving me and how choosing that path is harmful to the community. This is my interpretation and discovery from the session, not his specific words.
And when I look inside to see where that cutting off stems from, I can see that I choose to cut others out of my life when the reflect back to me disowned parts of myself that I have chosen to cut off. Parts I don’t like. Parts I’d rather not have.
Rather than embracing those parts (within me), I will just cut them off.
But it never works.
Any parts of ourselves that we cut off and disown, we will project out into the world again and again and again, on others. So we can cut them off in one relationship only to see them pop up in another. It never actually gets resolved.
Resolve can come though when I take responsibility for my relationship with my disowned parts, find them in me instead of continuing to see them in other, and be with them here. Love them up. Let them know I’ve got them. Re-parent them because they were most likely created when they didn’t get what I needed as a child.
The funny thing is that I am afraid if I do that, these disowned parts (and the people who represent them) will take over my life. And so I keep them at arms-length, hidden or denied.
And the even funnier thing (kind of) is that by doing that, they run my life. Only I can’t see it. Because it’s hidden and denied.
By surfacing, acknowledging and being with these disowned parts inside of me, and then loving them, the exact opposite happens. Their needs are met. I can consciously choose to give them what they need. Or work with them to soothe them even though they do not have what they need.
And I don’t make my disowned parts any one else’s responsibility.
It’s only then that I can live truly consciously and authentically.
Now that I have begun to reclaim these parts (and see them for what they are), I can feel my empowerment at a stronger, more unshakeable level than I ever have before. And it’s empowerment based on truth, not based on false power designed to protect my fragile ego. More on that for another post …
Reading all this, are you aware of where your disowned parts might be running your life and keeping you in relationship patterns that don’t serve you or your community? And, would you like to do something about it? If so, please post your awarenesses about this and your questions in the comments.