Sarah finds out that her widowed father has a girlfriend and has kept it from her. Jim realizes that his wife is not the patient mother he had hoped she would be. Veronica has to admit that her husband is threatened by her making more money and is not supportive of her career. Mario finds out that his girlfriend has a spending problem. Mary is shocked to hear that her new partner has an illegitimate son who he hasn’t mentioned before. Sally notices that her sister has gossiped with somebody else about her.
What do all those situations have in common? All these experiences are about realizing that somebody is not the way we expected them to be. We have to adapt to a new reality minus the illusion we had about a person.
When we experience a sense of disillusionment with another person or with the relationship we are receiving a great gift. Disappointment gets us stuck in feeling something is hopeless. When we feel something is hopeless, we dissociate and give up. Dis-illusionment, on the other hand, frees us from illusions and can be very productive.
Each relationship with another person is a journey which also contains moments of disillusionment. When we grow up, we usually get to a point when we realize our parents are not who we thought they were when we were children. In our romantic relationships, we have moments which trigger our hurts and issues and also make us realize our partner is not who we expected them to be. The other person might not do or be who we hoped they were. An illusion we had about our partner is taken away. We have the choice to allow the loss of our illusions to make us bitter or to allow ourselves to lead relationships which are more real.
When we lose our illusions, we open up to getting to know who the other person truly is. Disillusionment is part of a normal development for a relationship. When we engage in those experiences and share them with each other we can work through how it felt to experience the disillusionment. We can grow from those moments. Everybody ultimately wants to be known for who he or she is, especially in close intimate relationships. Being put up on a pedestal is lonely. Everybody wants to be loved for who he or she is. Through a situation of disillusionment, we start to see something about the other person which we didn’t see before. It’s a new discovery of who we are in a relationship with. We can then strengthen the bond on those new insights, free from illusions. Real appreciation and true compassion grow out of moments of disillusionment.
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