I got an email from a woman a couple of days ago asking if I thought it was wrong that she was longing for a partner. She said she’d done a lot of work on herself over the years, and that she feels like she has gone a long way toward healing and understanding the source of those tendencies that have derailed her relationships in the past — clinging, obsessing, sacrificing her own feelings and needs for the sake of her partner’s. She’s been on a dating detox as she’s done all this work, showing up on her mat six days a week, working with a great therapist, hanging out with friends and family, and getting to know herself well. Now she’s wondering if it’s a bad sign or an indication that maybe she hasn’t healed enough since she has started thinking about how nice it would be to find someone special.
I told her I think it’s the most natural thing in the world to want to connect. To have someone to laugh with and cuddle with, to talk to at the end of the day. Not everyone needs that or wants it, but there’s certainly nothing wrong if you do. It’s great to heal and work on yourself so that you can move through the world with an open heart and interact with people in a healthy, loving way. It’s fairly easy to remain stable when we’re on our own, doing our own thing, coming and going as we please. Eating what we want when we want. Reading if we feel like it, or going for a walk, or turning out the lights and going to bed really early or late, as the case may be. It’s in the context of intimate relationships that our “stuff” is most likely to come up. That’s when our buttons get pushed, and we really get to see how much we’ve healed, how accountable we can be for our own feelings, how able we are to express ourselves calmly. Relationships can be very enlightening and the springboard for a lot of growth.
I think the issue is not attaching your self-worth and reason for being to another person. That’s a heavy burden to ask anyone to carry, whether it’s your significant other, your child, or your sister. No one can validate you in any real way, except you. It’s wonderful for people to tell us they love us and appreciate us, it feels so good, but if you have doubt about whether you’re lovable, no one is going to be able to solve that for you but you. I know in our culture we’re taught that if we just find the right person to “complete us” we can sail into the sunset and have that happy ending. The story begins when the sailboat leaves the harbor. That’s not the end. The story is about you and your shipmates dumping water overboard when you need to, or sealing up holes, or weathering storms, or enjoying those gorgeous days when the water is calm and warm, and the sun is shining. Having two people in the boat who know how to hold their own is really helpful, otherwise one person is stuck doing the heavy lifting.
It’s no fun to be in a relationship if you’re feeling insecure all the time, if you’re bending over backwards, or chasing, or relentlessly wondering if everything is okay. If you’re being enough for them. Asking someone to carry that for you is not reasonable, it’s too much. That’s really your load to carry. Healing is what gives us the strength to carry our load. Otherwise we end up spilling it all over the people who come close to us and we look to them to solve our feelings of doubt and fear about ourselves. About our not being enough. Most people will need to put that load down eventually. They may run from the weight of it or just jump overboard one day. Feeling like you’re the only reason a person is happy or miserable is just too grave a responsibility. Put the key to your happiness in your own pocket and then share it with your partner or your family or your friends. That’s a gift you give to them, and to yourself.
Sending you love,