Why are our close personal relationships so utterly heartbreaking when they start to fall apart? Why do some people have the ability to keep us dangling on a string whilst we can cheerfully walk away from others with scarcely a backward glance?
Over the years many clients have come to me suffering intense heartache, whether they are going through a ‘rough patch‘ in their marriage, have separated, or are caught up in turbulent affairs of the heart. Many feel truly devastated by the actions or inactions of another and in some cases have even considered taking their own lives because they feel so wretched, helpless and empty.
As a therapist I can stand back a little from the emotional drama. From this outside viewpoint I have seen that the level of grief suffered seems to be proportionate to the degree to which the sufferer has given their power away, much more so than to the severity of what was done or said, or the length of time the couple were together.
In the first flush of love, when it seems that the other person is ‘the one we have always been waiting for’ we can throw ourselves emotionally into the relationship with such abandon that we abdicate our unique individuality for this desired new identity of ‘us‘. We can be tempted to invest all our hopes, dreams, security and happiness the another. We may try to please the other so selflessly that we lose all sight of our normal boundaries and put ourselves in a disempowered state.
The thrill of love, the warmth of togetherness and the joy of finding someone you want to share your life with is not to be downplayed, yet when we allow responsibility for our own happiness to rest in another’s hands we set ourselves up for heartache, disillusion and unhappiness. We are simply expecting too much from another human being. Know from the start this is simply another soul on their journey through life with just as many exquisite faults as any other human.
I have come to realise that even when you are in love, in fact particularly when you are in love, it is vital that you keep your sense of self. Don’t drop your normal standards of ‘what is okay’ just because this is your ‘true love‘ we are talking about! I’ve seen too many strong women (and the occasional strong man) walked all over because the other person has been able to trample their boundaries and pull on their heart strings. You can’t place the blame entirely on the other person. You’ve allowed this to happen, it is your lesson too.
That sounds incredibly clinical compared to romantic notions of being in love doesn’t it? However looking from a higher perspective relationships are about souls coming together for their learning and growth, whatever form that is to take. From this perspective you can see that we are always separate souls taking a journey through life and that though we may join and take some of it alongside another we are each ultimately on own personal path.
If you are feeling like a victim it helps to stand back and view the situation in this more detached state. Consider whether you’ve given too much of your personal power away to the other. Why have you done this? What did you imagine you would gain? A partner who wishes to be with you in a balanced and loving way will not try to take your power from you. Only those who enjoy manipulation and control would derive pleasure from this sort of dynamic and seek to perpetuate it.
We all have to take back our responsibility for our lives and our personal happiness, develop a sense of inner security and find love within ourselves. Work on building this inner strength. When we have a sense of self worth, when we can look in the mirror and view ourselves lovingly, when we accept our whole self with all of its wonderful imperfections, then we are truly strong. Until then we are likely to make the same mistakes again and again, pinning our hopes on someone outside of ourselves to make us happy.
Release the old feelings of hurt, blame and suffering now, they don’t serve you. Look within, build your self esteem, know your boundaries and when love comes knocking you’ll be ready to welcome the warm feelings in your heart, knowing you’ll still be complete in yourself whether the other joins with you for a month, a year, or a lifetime.