Have you ever noticed that sometimes you’re in a grocery store almost going aisle by aisle and section by section with someone else? If they’re not alone, you hear their conversations and their thought processes while selecting their foods, and you get to the checkout line almost feeling like you know them. That happened to us recently, and while I was in the checkout and Greg, my other half, was stopping to pick up some Coho salmon, the couple shopping along side us felt the need to compliment Greg on how kindly we talked to each other. He joked, “You must’ve caught us on a good day.”
When I met Greg in 1999, I was 19 and he was 24. When we went on our first date I remember being very careful about what I said to him because I only wanted him to know the facet of myself that I thought was acceptable to this man. In my mind, I had ideas of how I should be in a new relationship, and I didn’t feel like I could show him all the sides of me until we spent more time together. I couldn’t tell him things like “Oh, my dad has bi-polar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia” or “I see dead people” because I was afraid of the heaviness that would bring to a budding relationship. I didn’t want to freak him out, so I just kept most of it to myself.
Because of how sweet and chivalrous he was during the first six months of our relationship, I suspect he was also giving me what he thought I wanted. HA!
After a few years of marriage, and after immersing each other into our complete personalities, things started to get strained – mostly for me. The way we individually thought we should be didn’t resonate well with what the other person thought. My anger and resentment started to pile up, and soon we found ourselves in couple’s therapy.
Our counselor’s name was Beth Spring, and she was such a sweet, nurturing, and accepting person. She was an excellent listener, and in our first few sessions, she gave us some homework. We each received a piece of paper on which we needed to create our family tree (grandparents down), and then mark out areas of conflict. The exercise helped us deeply explore the dynamics in families and learn about relationships and roles.
I had no idea how many relationships were in my immediate family (let alone how many conflicts we had). For instance, I had a relationship with my mom, a separate way of relating to my mom and dad together, one with my sister Gina, one with my sister Annie, but a different relationship when Annie and Gina were together. Then I had one with my mom, dad, Annie and Gina. This is complex stuff!
This same complexity also applies to each member of the family. My mom’s relationship with me was different than her individual relationships with my sisters. She treated each of us differently. This is completely normal too. As the oldest, I had the most responsibilities. I was achievement oriented, and I had a lot of pressure to be great at everything I did. If you read about birth order studies, I’m a typical oldest child. Even now, I work full time, run a small consulting company, sit on a board of directors, raise three kids, and do various other things that nourish my passion for creativity – including writing. Oh, and I also practice Transcendental Meditation for 20 minutes twice a day. 🙂 Typical over achiever.
As Greg and I spent more sessions on relationship roles, I realized that Greg’s female and male role models identified in his family had exceptionally different personality traits than mine did. He acted the way he did because he learned, during his childhood, how a man or woman “should” be based on the behavior modeled by his family. The same was true for me. However, he and I were miles apart on what I should do and what he should do. We weren’t being honest and authentic, and “miles apart” is probably an understatement.
After many years of work, we realized the only way to have a successful relationship is to create our own rules and roles. In my family, it was tradition for the woman to stay home and care for the children, but because I earned more money than Greg, and we wanted one parent at home, we decided he would stay home. While I highly doubt it was a fulfilling career choice for him, he learned a lot of lessons in that experience – and so did I. Although we were openly and publically mocked by my family members about the roles we had established for ourselves, we knew that the agreements we established in our relationship were the right ones for us based on that specific time period in our lives. During those years, I also realized that my family was full of angry, judgmental fools that were more interested in trying to control our marriage while completely oblivious that they were only destroying their relationship with Greg and I as a union. The stronger we got, the more some responded with anger. It got to the point I was getting phone calls strongly suggesting that I should resort to physical violence by attacking Greg because he wasn’t taking more of an active roll in the remodel of our master bathroom. Needless to say, I don’t talk to that person anymore.
Today, I see our relationship as highly evolved and based strongly on our own spiritual growth as individuals who make a daily, conscious decision to be together. Conscious relationships focus on authenticity of the individual by forcing each person to own and manage their own baggage. These relationships are about daily, personal, spiritual growth, impersonal and non-attached love, and a commitment to being completely present in the union. Where in the past we spent most of our time in a non-harmonious relationship melody, today we only spend a few moments every couple of days living that way. It’s a better way to live because it frees the mind and spirit, it allows the full spectrum of your identity in this manifestation to be shown, and it supports the practice of unconditional love and acceptance.
Setting romantic relationships aside, the concept of conscious relationships also applies to every relationship you have with your family, friends, children, co-workers, and acquaintances. I’ve personally found that through the practice of authenticity and my desire for only conscious relationships, I’ve become closer to people who are on the same path of spiritual evolution that I am. One day, I cleaned out over 500 “friends” on Facebook knowing they weren’t really my friends. When I do have time to spend with friends, I feel like I’m engaged on a much deeper level. My friendships are significantly more fulfilling than they were before simply because I choose to be authentic and consciously committed.
Now, on the flipside, my authenticity isn’t for everyone. There are quite a few people who have told me they “hate” me. People have tried to control me by sending harassing messages and phone calls. They’ve reached out to family and friends to indirectly harass me – making the circle of chaos much larger. That’s ok that they feel that way, and I completely accept that I’m not for them. I don’t like to be around people who are full of insecurity, hatred, and all of those chaotic feelings because I’m a very sensitive empath, and I have a hard time blocking out that kind of energy. (I’m working on my will, but we’ll talk about that in another post). I personally don’t like being around people who choose to live with a need to control others but not themselves. I don’t like being around people who fester in a constant pool of anger and hatred because of the way it drains my personal physiology and how it affects the collective consciousness of a group. I’m not saying that hatred is good or bad, but I’m saying the frequency at which I resonate is disharmonious with those vibes. When I personally feel hatred, which is absolutely a feeling that I experience, it means I’m disconnected from the Spirit or Source energy from the Divine Infinite – God. That’s not right for me, just as I might not be right for you.
Another thing to remember is that YOU make yourself feel the way you do. You can’t blame anyone else for your unhappiness but yourself. While people might trigger emotions within you, know that you can choose whether or not you will let it affect you. If you are angry, it’s because YOU have chosen to feel anger as a result of something that has happened, and in the same way YOU can choose to feel acceptance. The feeling of anger is coming as a result of your own doing, so flaming that out on others, even the person who triggered you, is a sign that you don’t want to accept responsibility for your own feelings. This was a hard pill for me to swallow, because I wanted to blame Greg for my unhappiness, when really, it was me who was choosing to feel unhappy. Once I realized that I was the one in control of my emotions, feelings, and responses to that external stimuli, the better I became at communicating my emotional needs more clearly. Those communications went from being dysfunctional and chaotic to functional, constructive, and eventually healing. Sometimes we still slip into old patterns of dysfunctional chaos, but practice makes perfect.
I always urge people to be authentic. If being angry is authentic. Be angry. If being sad is authentic be sad. If being happy is authentic. Be happy. If having all these feelings every day separately and together is authentic, do that. However, in your authenticity, don’t forget to be introspective and question yourself. Don’t forget to grow. Don’t forget to evolve. If you don’t like the way you make yourself feel, then stop feeling that way. If you find yourself easily triggered to feel bad, then remove those triggers from your life or set healthy boundaries for yourself.
Ultimately, you are responsible for your life. It doesn’t serve you well to spend your energy trying to control someone else whether it’s a spouse or someone you’ve just met. Work on your authentic self while continuously striving for compassion, love and acceptance. Feel the divine Spirit that connects us all and allow your spiritual inner knowing and intelligence of your body guide you to a place where you feel better. I promise it will be time well spent. Much less exhausting too! 🙂
The Guru Girl