The Courage To Explore: Intimate Relationships & What Lies Beneath

(image : heta1311.wordpress.com)

It’s amazing how relationships can move so swiftly, from the point that says: ” I really want to get to know you better.” “I accept every part of you.” “For better of for worse.” Or, “what we have is SO real,” and then revert to a dismal: “Clearly, you weren’t who I thought you were.” “You fooled me.” Or, the best : “You fake ass mother f%$&*% !”

How do our relationships vacillate  to such extremes in a matter of months, weeks or even days?

My contention is that over idealism and intoxication, compliments of “fairy dust” can blind us to the possibilities that something more complex and sinister lurks beneath the surface. In many cases, we outright refuse to acknowledge the shadow which pervades intimate relationships.

Actually, the force is only “sinister” if we choose to ignore the dark, as if it doesn’t exist. Otherwise, these dynamics can assist us in arriving at a deeper place with our partners, if that’s what we truly want.

Additionally, it’s important to understand that we must deal with the shadow, not only in our relationships with others, but also in our MOST intimate relationship: with OURSELVES.

To plumb the depths of our psyches isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. There’s a considerable risk of discovering contents which we’re uncomfortable with.

You know: those which increase our heart beat, incite nausea and cause us to squirm. We feel this way because if ANYONE discovered that these thoughts were a part of our psychological framework, we feel as is we would be immediately be judged, ostracized and rejected.

However, what bears consideration is that these very same contents, while acknowledged and given a constructive outlet for expression can serve is as an agent in our development and ultimate transformation.

Much of the time, during the beginning stages of a relationship, a decision is made by one or both partners to engage in strategies which are designed to cover up the parts of ourselves which we deem as being “ugly”. We construct a veneer of bullshit  and call it ourselves, and no matter how sophisticated our tactics may be, every time we turn around, the bullshit is there, just hanging out.

As a result, between two people, intimacy is stifled and given a snowball’s chance in hell” of developing because it can’t surface in an environment so ripe with dishonesty.

Generally, we’ve bought the bill of goods society has sold us: telling to us that we can have a genuine relationship without being genuine. We’ve been told that the correct course of action is to hide our blemishes and make only the acceptable parts of ourselves visible.

The lingering hope is this: by the time the other person recognizes all of our bullshit (there’s that word again), they’ll be so invested (a mortgage, 2 or 3 children deep, etc..) that they won’t have the strength, sanity or peace of mind to fight for their own well-being and “at least we’ll have somebody”.

We’ve somehow become convinced of the notion that navigating difficult territory is something to be avoided at all costs. We strive to avoid pain any way that we can, thereby creating more of it because of our refusal to deal with it when it was knocking at our front door, staring us in the face.

In virtually every area of life, we’ve  been told that we can get what we want through some type of shortcut. Get rich quick, lose weight fast, a holiday meal to go in a box, quick, earth shattering astrology readings, and the list goes on.

It’s more accurate to say that successful relationships don’t materialize via mystical and magical means. The willingness of both parties to share, seek mutual understanding, create space for the honoring and expression of feelings and emotions and confronting aspects of ourselves and the other that are difficult to deal with are all part of this process.

For explorations sake, let’s follow the theory that when we feel vulnerable in relationships, we associate that with weakness. So, we go searching for a “mask” to wear that’s going to help us not appear so weak. Automatically, this obscures what we know of and desire to express about our true self. The act naturally puts shackles on our ability to experience life more deeply with another person. Immediately, limits are strapped into place and there’s only so far that we can go.

We forget that we’re human beings and life contains many dimensions which aren’t filed under the category of niceties and bliss.

While this may be an unpopular view, it doesn’t detract from its validity. I would also encourage everyone to ask themselves the question whether one of their purposes for developing intimate relationships stems more from the desire to gain a certain amount or type of social acceptance, or to explore deeper aspects of themselves as a catalyst for personal and collective growth.

Douglas and Naomi Moseley write:

“Developing an attractive personality does not eliminate the parts of ourselves that are unacceptable, they just become more disguised and layered over.”

Furthermore:

“People who are only willing to look at or be aware of one portion of themselves are essentially living in a delusion, well intended though that delusion may be. Behind their masks, they don’t know who they are or what they feel. The control they exert to present an acceptable self-image to others (and themselves) is likely to leave them numb and without passion. Major dimensions within the self are lost or repressed. Living behind a mask takes energy. The process of suppressing becomes so habitual that they forget how much energy is consumed by putting on a good, pleasant face and living up to an image.”

We stand on the rooftops and shout that we want someone to “love me for me” or “accept me as I am” and this raises two important questions: Are we willing to honestly reveal ourselves to the degree that genuine acceptance is possible and will we reciprocate?

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The universe is asking us to push ourselves to create strategies to relate as authentically as possible and discard that “shit eating grin” which we may have been carrying around with us for some time. The feedback from the cosmos is telling us that the jig is up and the masks no longer work. Can we face our own shadow? Can we vow to escape the morass of comfortable numbness and self-deceit?

If we can do this, we can jump-start true change in our lives. If not, we may find ourselves searching for discounts for costumes at Party City.

Notes: “Dancing In The Dark: The Shadow Side of Intimate Relationships by Douglas & Naomi Moseley

 

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