"I'm afraid that if I allow my girlfriend to become too close, all with be destroyed"
Ayal, I want to thank you again for this service. I have read this site repeatedly for a few years and now I am writing. Writing this down was very helpful in terms of gaining some clarity though I would still like to know your views on the things I have written.
I have been in a relationship for three years now. For most of that time I was afraid of being abandoned and betrayed. Early on in the relationship I maintained that I did not want to be monogamous. So, I had a brief sexual relationship with someone else who lived out of state. My girlfriend (R) at the time stated that she would be happy to have a monogamous relationship but she would not push me.
Two months into our relationship R told me that there was another women (also in another state) that had expressed some interest in her and that she (R) might pursue the relationship. They had met each other once and had never been sexual. I assumed that R was only interested because I had something on the side. Well, I felt very threatened but I encouraged her to pursue the relationship. She maintained sporadic email contact. As our relationship developed I felt more threatened by her outside relationship. Also, my outside relationship started to go sour; the woman that I was involved with is not someone that I would choose to be with longterm so I ended that relationship. R maintained her relationship with the other woman and they planned a visit. R maintained that it would just be a friendly visit. I read R's email to the other woman (without R's permission) in which she expressed an interest in the woman and looked forward to her visit. I was devastated. I told R that I ended my relationship with the other woman. She cancelled the woman's visit. I told R that I wanted us to be monogamous. We agreed that we would not see other people. R never told the other woman, she just stopped emailing.
Over the course of the three years we have gone through a cycle of push and pull. Once she told me that she was attracted to the woman but not interested in pursuing a relationship with her, I flew off the handle. Since then she has not always been completely forthright with me about communication with the other woman. I do know that she has maintained a friendship with the woman and has introduced me to her. For two and a half years I was very insecure about the relationship (and any other relationship with people other than myself). So insecure that I believed that it was necessary to contort my whole person into something I believed R would always want and love. I am not that person anymore and I her friendship with the other woman is no longer important to me. I also understand that she has a variety of reasons for maintaining the relationship but she does not do it because she is planning to abandon me. That relationship has nothing to do with me. I am extremely thankful that I no longer allow that issue the incredible hold that it had over me.
However, I think that my previous behavior and lack of trust has done a lot of damage. Each time I felt any sign of abandoment I would go after her and try to pull some emotional, verbal commitment from her that I am the center of her world. I think the constant processing and requiring her to confirm that I am lovable took a toll on both of us she would be exhausted and feel awful that I didn t trust her and I would feel guilty for not trusting her. Please understand that I do not take responsibility for all the distress in the relationship. I am writing my view and my responsibility. I understand that she did her part and the way she acted out her emotional distance and own fears of abandonment (which I have just recently become aware of) played a big role in the discord.
Now things are different for me. I have been quiet, and I have been listening to the things inside me and to R. I have tried to stop filling space with words, ruminating, processing and obsessing about the relationship. Some things have become clear to me: She is equally afraid of abandonment and we have played that out together in different ways. Something else that is now clear is that I used the relationship to distract me from actively engaging issues that terrify me and are truly difficult like moving on with my career; feeling good and loving about myself; acquiring things I don't need; pursuing positive, challenging friendships and relations with people that I felt to be previously inaccessable to me; and caring for my body. The silence has also led me to myself in another way: I am starting to doubt if I really want to be in this relationship. I always convinced myself that it was her that doesn't really want me. As I am coming to really love myself, I am realizing that that is not true. It is me that doubts that I want to be with her. I feel terribly guilty about those feelings.
I also understand that she and I have very different ways of being in the world. I have been going after these painful issues for years. Yes, I have used her and other people to help me resolve some of my difficult issues (isn't that what human relationships help us do?). I feel that she is now coming to a place that she must engage her own issues. I think that because I have done so much work the rest of my life is moving on at a wonderful pace. Sometimes I feel that she is left behind. Sometimes I feel that she is staying behind, though recently, after I made a major life advance, she seems a lot more motivated and is working much harder to achieve her goals.
We have done a lot of work and I believe have come a long way. We are much more loving of each other and have less discord and general insecurity. We do tend to have a big fight whenever there is extreme closeness. She will get distant I will get sensitive and I will feel that she isn't committed. This happens ocassionally. Recently I have been spending less time with her because I want to avoid this cycle I am afraid of it and I don't know how to deal with it any other way. And now R is giving me a lot of attention I can't stand it. I really need her to back off AND I want the attention. I also value the alone time because I take more time to care for myself. I struggle with feeling that I neglect her and the relationship I then get resentful for feeling this way.
I have, most of my life, resented not getting from other people what I offer in terms of love and affection however I also realize that I have often rejected people when they give me the love and affection I say I resent never getting. I don't understand this about myself. When I let it, ocassionally my self-worth gets tied into how people treat me. On a bad day I can really get torn up about not getting a phone call or being blown off because someone is busy. I find myself ocassionally resenting that I give more in terms of attention and caring. Other days I don't think about it. I usually feel worse when I haven't given myself much self-care. I do want to do better about asking for care and attention from others to supplement the care I give myself. I am often afraid to ask not because people will say no but because I will be dissappointed. I will review what you say about disappointment in The Laws of the Universe.
Much to my surprise I have learned a lot I actually believe that this relationship has been a gift to me because I now believe I am lovable, and that I can share myself without giving myself away. Through this relationship I have learned a lot about love, care, friendship, partnership, acceptance, sharing and having and getting enough.
I would appreciate you sharing any thought you may have about what I have just written especially the following: Now that things are coming along I am happier and fuller in myself; we are getting along better; I generally like her and her company; she seems more motivated to move along with her life; she expresses more longterm commitment to the relationship; and, I do not feel threatened by her outside relationships--I avoid her and feel like I want to end things. There are times when I feel like I can't stand her - I think that this is resentment. I'm afraid--CERTAIN--that if I don't vigilantly protect myself from considering a serious longterm relationship with her everything will become awful which will be my punishment for letting my guard down.
Thank you again for the support.
Hi... Well, I think that your last sentence is the key here. You said:
Using an Aura-Soma essence will help with this issue. The equilibrium oil number B62. This energy relates to the energy of Venus, which is good for you, as you are needing to own your femininity more, as the Feminine carries the innate knowledge and understanding of relationship. This essence also deals with fears of being alone. It deals with feelings of abandonment and the sense of loss in relation to one's parental models. It helps one find and reach their own innate caring, kindness, warmth, and interdependence to all things. Very good for you. This essence can be ordered at email@example.com. Ask them for instructions as to its use.
So - this is what all the push/pull energy you speak of comes from. Throughout your letter, you will speak of how this relationship has truly added to your growth, and how far you have come, and how much better you are getting along, but in the next sentence you will say you avoid her and want to end things. Do you see the split, or wound here? As soon as things get too close, which you mentioned earlier on in the letter, you back off, and you chose someone who also backs off... but then you both get frightened and pull back in - the pulling back definitely comes from a fear of survival - of being abandoned, of needing someone else to validate who you are. But, then again, you can't totally trust either, so you pull back. This is not unusual, but it is a symptom of not being whole within yourself - of not embracing all of yourself. The only one who can validate you, is YOU. This is all about honoring yourself, as you are learning. You are doing good work in this area. Where you still need to do some more work is to accept WHATEVER you are feeling - in that way you actually DO embrace all of yourself. When you have certain feelings, you say that you feel guilty or resentful. That means that you are not accepting some part of yourself. When we do not accept some part of ourselves, or we resent something, what we are actually doing is resenting some part of ourselves. When we resent some part of ourselves, we have abandoned OURSELF. So, the fear is actually about you not accepting, embracing, or honoring all of yourself. When you do that, there is no fear of abandonment. How then can you ever lose yourself? That is the state of peace we are all looking for.
It is OK for you to feel whatever it is that you feel. You allow yourself to be human and basically to, pardon my French, fuck up. And you allow yourself to love every aspect of your journey, for all of it teaches you something. There is no "wrong" - there IS Love and Learning. If we fear that we will be abandoned if we are not perfect, or if we think we are :wrong" in some way, we will separate ourselves from ourselves, from our own issues - we will try to be perfect in order not to be abandoned - but that is not acceptance. And deep down we still believe that we are not lovable. Then, we will project that way of being and thinking onto others as well, believing they are not safe also, if they are not perfect. A friend of mine once said to me: "Ayal, give people the right to fuck up!" When we are in fear of something, or someone, we tend to either want to control it, or them, withdraw from it. And we are only in fear when we think we have no worth, power, or strength. And TRUE power and strength comes from, and is, Love and Compassion. When we view ourselves first, and then life, with compassion, it isn't scary OR disappointing. It's just part of a marvelous, complex, sometimes confusing journey that we are all making and doing our best with, with the information and tools and level of development we have at the moment. Life is a journey of amazing transformation. Look around you. What isn't in a constant state of change and growth? Nothing is static - perfection isn't a static thing. It is an ongoing journey of discovery and change. It's a marvelous thing.
When you allow yourself to have whatever feelings arise for you, that is the journey of discovery also. That doesn't mean that you act upon those feelings, but rather that you allow them to surface to be faced, experienced, explored, and then transformed, as you witness them. As you accept and witness them, they transform. As you learn to accept and embrace all of yourself and the emotions you find yourself experiencing, then they are not seen as monstrous or wrong. Consequently, wonderfully, you can view these same emotions, struggles, or wounds in others with the same deep, understanding and compassion you give yourself - and you view it also with greater detachment. The issues you fear in others miraculously transform into something not at all frightening or scary that you have to pull away from. They become, instead, just a moment in someone's journey that they are working through or are, as yet, unclear with. You move, in other words, from the frightened child who believes she has no power or ability to witness or participate in life with strength and compassion to the strong, compassionate adult who recognizes that struggle in another because you have accepted it in yourself. The child does not see the struggles of another, since the child is enwrapped in her own world, in her own fears, gives her power away, thinking that all others are gods - bigger and stronger then she is. The adult realizes that she IS God, and that everyone else is, too, and therefore that adult comes out of the myopic world of the child and can see the pain and struggles of another, as you said you are beginning to be able to see in your partner. And as you see how you yourself can work with and transform your issues, so you see that when another is treated with kindness and clarity, they too can more easily see it and transform their own. The child can also think that they are responsible for the life of another, for making that person happy. That is not true. As you see how you are responsible for your own life, and you recognize your ability to provide for yourself and for life's necessities, so, too can you see that others are totally capable and responsible for themselves and have their own strength to deal with whatever they need to in their life. That knowledge alleviates a huge amount of fear, anger, and imbalance. That way, also, you are not disappointed in another, as you recognize that they have their own timing in life, and it has nothing to do with you. You CAN always ask for what you need - but, depending upon where another is at in their journey, they may or may not be able to give it to you. They have the right to say no, and that's OK, as they have to be tuned into what they need also. But, when you have your own strength, you can give it to yourself.
I invite you to read the following, added below, from a chapter on Reichian Growth Work, on body positions - areas where we have gotten stuck. Yours is called the "Control Position". I think it applies to what you are working with, and may give you some good insights.
Also, you are needing to do some fasting, to better hydrate your body, and to work better with proper food combining.
Heart segment block: issues of validation
A good experience of the oral position means that we have felt enough support from those caring for us to move forward into a more independent role in the world. Small children want to start playing 'away from' their parent - but still in visual range, with the sense of being seen and validated: 'Did you see me on the swings, dad?' Support is still crucial, but less direct than in the oral stage: the child is being held, not by the arms of the carer, but by their attention and their acknowledgement of the child's experience.
Through the kinds of experiences we - hopefully - have at this stage, we are learning about 'other minds': learning that other people exist, that they have roughly the same kinds of experiences we do, and that we can project ourselves imaginatively into their experience as they can into ours. Through play - especially play in which we are held in the parent's gaze, and play in which we ourselves 'control' and 'manipulate' the parent ('Now you be the baby, and you're sad because the mummy's not there, and then I'm the mummy and I come back...') - we develop a sense of 'mental space', of an inner world, and that other people also have inner worlds. Through adults' support of our play and fantasy, we learn to engage with an interpersonal reality.
What can go wrong at this point is that, instead of our experience being supported, it can be denied. The important adults don't join in with us, don't let us be at the center of a playful interpersonal space. This may be simply because they are themselves tired, drained and emotionally preoccupied. Or they may have a compulsion to dominate, 'You will do what I say and like it'. Or often they are caught up in a mistaken kind of caring, which is deeply undermining of our reality: 'You don't really mean that, dear'; 'Of course you're not sad, nothing to be upset about'; 'There's mummy's brave boy'... All these sorts of interactions masquerade as contact, but are actually profoundly out of contact with the child's true experience.
These reactions to our need for supported play hurt our heart. It becomes bruised, frozen, withered, numbed. On another level, it also damages our cognitive development, and prevents us, perhaps permanently, from learning about the existence of other selves - from learning to empathise. Ultimately, we may give up on any expectation that contact with other people will be possible, that anyone will see and hear and touch our reality. Yet we still have needs, of course; how are we to get them met?
Really only two techniques lie open to someone whose heart and mind have been blocked in this way. We can seek to dominate other people, by physical force or by force of will; or we can seek to seduce and manipulate them. (These options each relate to another later character position, as we will see.) Underlying either strategy is a fundamental lack of belief that other people are real, that they have feelings and needs, experience pain and pleasure. It is as if we have been stranded on a planet of androids, and have to learn the codes by which they can be controlled and made to serve us. This is the aspect of the control position which has led some therapists to label it 'psychopathic': if other people are androids, we can feel free to cheat them, hurt them, even kill them.
This belief stems, of course, from feeling treated like an android ourselves; it stems from other people's apparent lack of belief in our reality. We are seeking revenge. (We are also stuck in repeating what was originally an age-appropriate need to be in charge and the center of attention.) And yet there is no satisfaction in that revenge: our victories over others are without savour, because they fail to meet our underlying yearning for empathy, for heart-to-heart contact, for the recognition of our needs. If we deny that yearning, we are left with the option of hiding ourselves behind a 'false self', an outer persona which acts at being caring and loving and good, while inside we are silently saying to ourselves 'keep quiet, don't show anything, keep your head down, stay safe...'
The jammed-up heart of the control character usually manifests physically as a sense of bulkiness and inflatedness in their upper torso, especially in the yearning version: their chest is pushed-out in a dumb-show of domination, like a cartoon sergeant-major or society dowager. They are often fleshy in a rather smooth way, and there can be a shark-like mirthless grin permanently in place. Mussolini's bodily appearance is an exaggeration of the control position.
But of course very few people in this position are Mussolinis, or psychopaths. More generally, they are struggling with difficulties around making contact and directly expressing need: sometimes closer to recognizing other people as real, sometimes further away. Creative use of control energy comes out in leadership, in being able to take responsibility for group needs. Control characters can be wonderful hosts, the life and soul of the party, able to remember everyone's name and favourite food; they can be charismatic performers, basking in the love of the audience and able to repay that love by making everyone feel good. The potential downside of this is the contempt that leaders or entertainers can feel for the crowd; the cold calculation behind the host or hostess's smile.
The heart center plays a very special role in the human energy system: in many ways we could see all of the character positions as representing different ways in which the heart tries to express itself. So the control character with their locked-up heart is wounded in a very deep place. But always, the wound represents the potential for growth: people whose energy focuses in the control position are people whose energy focuses in their heart - people with 'big hearts', with the capacity for big expression, the capacity to look after others, to have 'the whole world in their hands'. What is often harder for them is to be looked after themselves: to balance out their bigness by daring to feel small.
Person A stands with knees bent, leaning forward from the waist with back arched so that head is upright; arms stretched forward in front of you. (This is very uncomfortable. If it feels easy, you're not doing it right.) Person B stands in front, just out of reach. Person A tells B what is happening for them - e.g., 'my back's hurting' - and person B systematically denies everything they say - e.g., 'No it isn't, you're fine'. Continue for as long as you can bear it, then make contact and reverse.