“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”
It is my belief that if we are practicing anything other than that sentiment, then we are not participating in a loving relationship with our self or others. To go one step further, I’ve come to believe that most of what is identified by our cultural and social conditioning as expressions of love between two individuals is not at all, but rather, conditional, need-based expressions of extreme co-dependency. Terms like ‘soul-mate’ and ‘better-half’ along with expressions such as “you complete me”, “I owe my happiness to you”, “you are my whole world”, “you make me feel special”, and “till death do us part” not only fuel the billion dollar greeting card , romance novel and ‘made-for-tv’ movie industries; but also reinforce fear-based imprinting that sets us up to continuously recreate and participate in these dysfunctional relationships. This dawning awareness has been extremely significant for my own personal healing and growth as well as for the work I facilitate for my clients.
I believe that all relationships are sacred workshops. The extent to which we experience them as such is determined by our level of self-awareness. The reason I refer to them as workshops is because there is always an opportunity for us to move beyond our own imprinting and subsequent patterns by working consciously with the material that comes up in response to dancing in relationship with another. Much of the time I spend with clients is focused on assisting them with this specific understanding. Until we are willing to engage in such an inquiry, we will always be dancing with, what I like to describe as, ‘eyes wide shut’. This lack of awareness sets us up to continuously cycle through dysfunctional relationship patterns that leave us feeling unfulfilled and rejected because we believe that, over time, the person ‘we fell in love with’ was unable to fulfill our needs and, therefore, did not love us as much as we initially thought or as much as we believe we loved them.
So the dance that I’m referring to in The Dance of Relationship is an energetic dance that is largely being influenced by what we are not aware of. What we choose to focus on and the stories we create about our experience while in relationship with the other, rarely, if ever, describes what is actually occurring. This is why, in my humble opinion, most ‘couple’s counseling’ venues are extremely ineffective in achieving any significant changes within the underlying patterns and dynamics of the relationship.
I would also go so far as to say that if the focus is primarily on the narrative of each participant, then the dysfunctional patterns that are pervasive in the relationship will actually end up being reinforced. It’s important to remember that the stories we create around our experiences are part of our well-honed defense mechanisms that ensure that we deflect and distance ourselves from connecting to what it is we don’t want to feel in reference to our experiences and subsequent wound imprinting.
Referring to the description of what a wound imprint is from the modality Beyond the Imprint :
“Prenatal, perinatal and childhood experiences which should include appropriate environmental stimulus and responsiveness to our needs not only prevents distress but also ensures that the limbic brain which receives and processes sensations, feelings and emotions 'imprints' these experiences as cellular memory in the body, validating our right to exist."
"If these experiences are less nurturing and more painful; our limbic system begins to ‘imprint’ these experiences on the cellular level as distorted expressions of love."
During childhood and adolescence:
"Our schemas develop around this conditioning which informs all of our beliefs and perceptions about our self, others, and our environment including the unconscious need to control or be controlled in order to feel safe and secure."
"This sets us up to recreate these experiences in a cyclical fashion throughout life, informing chronic dysfunctional relationship patterns in an unconscious attempt to get our physical and emotional needs met.”
To the degree that the individual has been traumatized and 'shattered' during their most critical stages of development; their capacity to be truly vulnerable and intimate while in relationship will be extremely limited:
By the time we reach adulthood:
"We have become imprisoned through fear of what other people will think of us. In an effort to mitigate loss, we participate in the collective conditioning that has us constantly relying on our environment and those who inhabit it (including our closest relationships) to reflect back to us that we exist and are safe, secure, loved and accepted."
While participating in the Dance of Relationship:
"We are conditioned to look outside of ourselves in order to identify who and what is causing us pain or pleasure."
Because of this conditioning:
"We will always be trying to manipulate and control our environment and those in it in an attempt to mitigate loss and minimize our suffering."
This ensures that we will:
"Continue to show up in the world in accordance with the expectations of others which is reinforced by their projections onto us and our reflexive need to defend ourselves in response to those projections."
In short, as long as we rely on those who we are in relationship with to make us feel better about ourselves, then we will continue to participate in co-dependent relationships. Since we come together in relationship at the level of our respective wounding, our capacity to truly love one another will always be limited by this dynamic.
"In order to move beyond our unconscious reliance on our environment to reassure us that we are safe and secure; we must begin to dissolve our wound imprinting."
"Our journey towards integration and wholeness requires that our attention be directed primarily inward to resolve whatever trauma imprinting and subsequent self-judgments we are defending against that reinforce our beliefs that we are not enough".
Only then will we be able to move beyond the dance of co-dependency towards self-love, self-acceptance and unconditional love for self and others. Only then will we and those we love be free.