“Relationships don’t die a natural death.
They are murdered by either
ego, attitude or ignorance
or all of the above.”
(Rose Saroyan, Karmic DNA)
My friend Rose Saroyan couldn’t have said it better. My own marriage to the father of my daughters died the death of ignorance and a good portion of ego—mostly my ego—ten years ago. What I mean by that is, we could have made it work, knowing what I know today. Less ignorance and less ego would have allowed us to heal what was greatly strained after 13 years of marriage. We fostered a little girl for several years, and had two daughters of our own. We moved from Germany to Malaysia, back to Germany and then to Canada, starting all over each time. We went through a lot together without ever really knowing ourselves and the dynamic in our relationship.
After the death of our marriage, we created the second best thing: we build a respectful friendship as co-parents of two wonderful children. Yet, the fact remains that the love relationship died—like so many others—because we were not taught about our shadows. Our partners—just as our parents and children—are our mirrors. They bring out all our challenges, not so we can run away from them, but so that we can face them.
For quite a while now, I have been meaning to write about Hal and Sidra Stone’s insights on partnering and relationships. To do their extensive teachings justice, I will need to lay the foundations first. I have decided to write a series of two blogs on relationships, rather than leaving something important out.
Relationships are remarkable teachers for all of us and offer huge personal and spiritual growth opportunities. It usually is so easy to fall in love with each other and be fascinated by the ways in which the other person is different from us but complements us so beautifully. Then a few years down the road, we might find ourselves feeling irritated by exactly what we originally fell in love with in the other person. Why is that?
A relationship is not between two people but between two groups of people. Any relationship involves a multitude of selves in each person interacting with similar or opposite selves in the other person. To explain this further, let me elaborate on the idea of parts of selves.
PRIMARY PERSONALITY PARTS
We come into this world vulnerable, and our primary personality parts—which we develop growing up—protect that vulnerability. The objective of our primary selves is to protect the vulnerable inner child. Those could be power selves which allow us to protect our vulnerability by being angry or aggressive; or they could be ambitious selves which help us to make money and be successful; or they could be pleasing selves or gentle selves which make us lovable to the people around us.
The primary selves can take many different forms. It is hard to know what our primary selves are because we tend to identify with them. We see them as “that’s just how I am,” instead of realizing that they are just one energy we have inside us and that we have the freedom to step into another completely different energy. We tend to think we have a fixed unchanging personality, for example, “I am hard working, tough and aggressive”, or “I am sweet, loving, gentle and giving” or “I am passionate, dramatic and emotional”.
On the other side of every primary self, there is an equal and opposite energy. If I grew up identified with power and aggression, on the other side of that energy, there is somebody within me who is vulnerable and weak. If I grew up learning to always put others first and be selfless, on the other side of that energy, there is somebody who puts him or herself first.
Whatever it is that we have disowned in ourselves, that is exactly what the Universe is going to bring to us. The opposite and equal energy which we have disowned will be lived out through our children, our friends, our acquaintances, our business associates, even our animals, and most of all our husband or wife.
Hall and Sidra Stone
Sidra, for example, when she first met Hal, was a very rational planner; organized, solution-oriented and careful with money. Hal was more of a dreamer, a visionary, trusting the Universe rather than carefully planning, able to sit in the discomfort of a problem rather than solving it in the fastest way, and a spender.
When we first fall in love with somebody, the vulnerable child feels safe, feels unconditionally loved and accepted. The primary selves can relax and sit back and stop protecting. We are more able to act from the opposites of our primary selves which are also available to us. If my primary self is, for example, serious and mature, I might be able to be more playful and light-hearted. Or, perhaps, I am a very busy person, always productive, using my time efficiently, making sure I never waste any time. When I fall in love and feel absolutely accepted the way I am, I don’t have to be busy to prove I am lovable. I don’t have to accomplish anything. My primary pusher self can relax. Suddenly, I discover I have time to just be in the moment, to take a walk, or to just talk to somebody.
Another thing that happens when we fall in love is that our inner critic, which always finds something to criticize and correct in us, disappears for a while. All of a sudden, I feel perfect; I feel lovable the way I am.
After a while, stress enters into the relationship and the vulnerable inner child feels threatened again. To protect that vulnerable part, our primary selves come back to fight for us.
TO BE CONTINUED
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For relationship coaching contact Angelika