Wisdom Workout

Love and Other Difficulties
By Susan McNeal Velasquez
   Loving is an art and it is day labor. Before we can create interdependence in our relationships, we must first grow conscious of our deep-seated, hidden and unacknowledged desire to collapse into another.

“That’s not me,” I can hear you saying. “I am probably too independent. I’m trying to learn how to depend more on others so I’m not always the one in charge.”

Let’s look a little closer. When we hold on to defining ourselves as fiercely independent, we conveniently gloss over all the times we are dependent. We minimize or erase the contributions others make to who we are. We maintain our strong and always in control image at the high price of being emotionally isolated and unreachable.

Why would anyone choose that? Because it is less terrifying than acknowledging that deep down we have a hidden and unrealistic desire to surrender into the arms of someone who is always strong, always capable and will fulfill all our needs. Those of us who define ourselves as independent will not own our dependence needs because of a fear of feeling weak and out of control. Dependent translates as vulnerable and open to harm.

Conversely, those of us who define ourselves as dependent simply minimize our contributions and strengths and keep all the times that we operate independently and are in complete control a secret from ourselves and others. We appear more pliable, open, vulnerable and in need than we really are. Instead of standing firmly in our own strengths and accomplishments, we hide them in favor of desperately trying to surrender into the arms of someone who will perfectly fulfill all our needs.

Before we reach the door marked interdependence, we must grow solid boundaries around our deepest desire to collapse into another.

When we throw all of our needs, desires, wants, gifts, talents and caring at another and call it loving them, we only burden and overwhelm them with parts of ourselves they cannot use. When we have given our all, we have succeeded only in abandoning ourselves. Instead of fulfilling another, we have merely reduced ourselves to nothing.

When two people both give themselves up in order to come close to each other, there is no firm ground beneath them. There is too much pleasing, understanding and surrendering. Too much yes and not enough no. Too much dependence and not enough independence. The relationship is doomed to a free-fall into helplessness and stagnant disappointment, all in the name of love.

When two people staunchly maintain their independent stance and refuse to address or acknowledge their insecurities, distance reigns supreme. Task focus rules. What we do is more important than who we are. The relationship is maintained by superficial conversations, pat phrases and dull, lifeless and ‘deadening to the emotions’ time together. Just underneath the surface lives a hyper-vigilance on the part of the partner who feels the most insecure. Heartache, loneliness and unfulfilled longings are the true children birthed from ‘nothing personal, we are both so strong and complete in ourselves’ unions.

Before we reach the door marked interdependence, we must first grow conscious of our deep-seated desire to collapse into another. Next, we must grow solid boundaries around this desire and take ownership of it as our own wellspring of unfulfilled longings. When accepted and owned, we are better able to be both dependent and independent, say yes and no, surrender and stand firm, open and close and fashion a life that is big enough to develop, expand and grow together.

When we are willing to accept our strengths and insecurities, our unfulfilled longings and desires, our gifts and challenges, we can use them as a road map to create a fulfilling life. We can finally give up living in the safe wading pool of consistent image management in favor of entering an ocean of curiosity where the tides change so often; there is no time for posturing. When we intend to create a love-filled life, we embrace the challenge with the seriousness, intent and passion given to a great adventure.

Susan is a local writer and facilitator and is the author of “Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind.” Reach her at: susanvelasquez.com.

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