Be Honest: Are You Sure You Can Handle a Relationship?
Instead, you make up excuses for why you stay: money, timing, kids, not sure what to do or where to go. Maybe the truth is beyond all those familiar and lame excuses. Maybe the truth is as simple as this: You don't change what you're doing or where you are because in spite of all the surface chaos, there is something about the situation that serves you at a deeper and more complex level, though it is very difficult to admit.
Just for the sake of examining this question, let's apply it to the delicate topic of relationships. The general assumption is most people want to be in a relationship. Let's qualify that by saying most people want to be in a happy, balanced, mutually supportive, financially successful, physically sexy relationship. In other words, most people want a perfect relationship. Okay, who doesn't? But here's the catch: Is that really possible? That's really more of a fantasy. And because you've set the bar so high for what you consider the ideal relationship, is such a relationship even possible to find, much less to sustain over the years of your life?
In the meantime, while waiting for this perfect relationship to drop out of the sky or come into your lives through the Internet, you still have to create a life for yourself. Now bear in mind, this life you're creating while waiting for your fantasy life to materialize is one that suits all of your odd quirks and growing list of personal needs, many of which continue to surface as you get to know your underbelly. This is the life that is built around your nutritional needs, your boundaries, your spending habits and your debts, your secrets, your therapy sessions and support groups—not to mention your scar tissue—as well as your housekeeping routine and everything else that makes you who you are. In short, while waiting for a second life with a partner to start, most people are becoming quite settled in their first life. Any relationship that attempts to kick in after all these systems are under way in a person's life—well, good luck.
Let's face it—relationships are mysterious creatures. You are most certainly designed to be in a relationship, and yet so much of the personal work you do these days is ironically aimed at making you more independent, self-sufficient and, well, more self-focused in general. While there are endless, countless, wondrous benefits to the path of self-realization—in fact, one might say this is the only path to the integrated, whole self—is this also the path that makes being in successful relationships more difficult? It may be incomprehensible for some people to even consider such a question as this, but the world of relationships is changing so fast that, at the very least, you have to recognize nothing is conventional about the relationship archetype any more. Nor can you make assumptions about whether a person wants a relationship or will be with the same partner for life. Few are these days. So for the sake of discussion, let's just say it's likely that this question would draw pro and con responses, depending on the personal experiences of an individual, which, at the end of the day, is the subjective data that this type of question draws upon. This is a question that doesn't have a final answer; it just generates discussion and hopefully some insights but never leads to any final conclusions. Why? Because, in truth, there aren't any final conclusions. Life experiences lead people to come to their own conclusions in matters such as relationships.
Meet Caroline's client Ann: a 40-year-old looking for love
The part of the conversation that relates to everyone goes like this: Within the first minute of the call, Ann (not her real name) described her physical condition but noted her major condition was "located in the area of her heart chakra."
Translation: "I'm lonely, and I've had several heartbreaks."
I asked Ann about her personal life, including friendships and family, and about how she spent her off-hours. She told me she kept to herself a great deal of the time, although she was looking for a relationship. At the mention of the word "relationship," Ann became both emotional and angry. She told me she went out with friends on occasion but frequently exited dinners and social events early because she was bored with their company. Ann actually added that she often felt as if she was wasting her time and money going out to dinner with friends. She said their conversations tended to be dull, and she didn't like going to pubs, though, as her friends point out, pubs tend to be the places where single people go to socialize. Ann admitted that this was a bit of a dilemma; nevertheless, she found the pub atmosphere, "not to my liking." Ann added that after a long week of working with so many people, she preferred the quiet of her apartment.
Translation: Ann only wants to engage in relationships on her terms. She wants people to accept her as she is, but is either incapable or unwilling to appreciate the beauty in others who do not serve a purpose in her life. This is fundamentally a control pattern that indicates a truth that governs Ann's emotional center far more than she realized. Ann needs to maintain dominion over her space at all times and while the price she may pay for this preference is one of severe loneliness, the fact is that loneliness is easier for her to cope with in the long run than a day-to-day life of compromising her comfort zone. Though Ann kept expressing her frustration at not being able to find the right man, emphasizing she has tried repeatedly to find a partner and has kept herself in great shape, my intuitive hit told me that Ann's greater pain came from her deeper knowing that she was already living the life that was right for her—the life she actually needed, given her emotional nature and personality. It was not the life she imagined she wanted, but that life was a fantasy life, a life based on little girl ideas and little girl fairy tales of princesses and knights and all that nonsense.
In her intuitive gut, she was on the verge of acknowledging her knowingness about herself: She knew that every choice she made in her daily life continually reinforced the only type of life her authentic nature could really tolerate. She was not someone who could handle compromise, especially compromising her living quarters or the inner rhythms of her emotional and psychological nature. These subtle and not-so-subtle habits, at age 40, were set in stone. She had no intention of negotiating certain aspects of her life that she felt maintained her stability and her health. That made no sense to her at all. In fact, her voice went up at octave when I suggested that the very nature of a relationship is one of merger and compromise, a challenge that often encompasses negotiating life rhythms in order to maintain the health and happiness of both people.
Ann could understand that, of course, but it was apparent that the notion held no appeal. Ann's position was that she had worked hard to heal herself and to discover what she needed to sustain her inner balance, and she could not afford to negotiate any part of those aspects of herself. I did not even introduce the idea of defining what nurturing another person meant or taking care of a partner's parents or extended family members should a relationship call for such heart demands. Could she find it in herself to be that giving of a person? Or was she simply captivated by the idea of a romance exclusive of her partner's family and friends?
2 questions every person who wants to be in a relationship should ask
I finally asked Ann two questions that everyone who says she wants to be in a relationship, but continues to find that part of her life a mysterious challenge, should ask herself: Do your choices lead you toward relationships or away from them? Would you want to be in a relationship with you? (Well, would you?)
The second question genuinely caught Ann off-guard for a second. "I've never thought about being in a relationship with me."
I told her to just think about it for a second and answer it right off the top of her head. She said: "Well, I need to have things my way, and I guess I tell people what to do all the time. I don't like people to be in my space for too long because I like my time alone."
I interrupted and said: "You would be on the receiving end of you, Ann. That's what you would be living with: a person telling you what to do all the time, criticizing you and always letting you know you are inadequate and continually making you feel uncomfortable if you stayed in his space for too long. Could you live with that?"
Ann said: "No, I don't think I could live with me. I don't think I would want to live with me."
We finally decided if Ann really wanted a relationship, she would have to become a person she could live with. She would have to be that person with others. Unless she could do that—and not occasionally, but really become that person—she would have to really come to terms with the possibility she was already living the life that would make her the happiest.
Translation: Sometimes the pain and disappointment you carry in your heart is due to the death of fairy tales and myths, dreams that were never yours in the first place. One of the most intense sufferings in life is pursuing a life or chasing dreams that just don't belong to you. You may want them, but that doesn't mean you can have them. Look closely at the choices you consistently make in your life: What are they and where do they consistently lead you? You may already have the life you've been looking for, but have yet to realize it. All it may need is for you to add some recognition that you are right where you are supposed to be—and jump in with all your heart.
Caroline Myss has been in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness for 20 years. Since 1982, she has worked as a medical intuitive, providing individuals with an evaluation of the health of their energetic anatomy system. She specializes in assisting people in understanding the emotional, psychological and physical reasons their bodies have developed an illness. Myss is a New York Times best-selling author whose books include Anatomy of the Spirit, Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, Sacred Contracts and Entering the Castle. Myss' latest book, Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason, was published by Hay House in October 2009. Visit her website at Myss.com.
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