My wusband (husband, past tense) and I used to do a dance — a couple of them actually. And I don’t mean salsa or tango. I mean that we had ways of relating that perpetuated our beliefs and fears, that we kept doing over and over.
I discovered my steps in the dance through therapy and energy work — first with an art therapist while studying art therapy myself in graduate school and then with Henry Grayson, my mentor and teacher of his Synergetic Therapy.
One thing we did in our marriage was arranged, unconsciously, to share our emotions and divvy them up in the most convenient way possible. He handled the anger. I did the sadness. Good deal! I was uncomfortable with anger and rage. He felt weak when he acknowledged sadness or grief. So this way, neither of us had to grow or evolve. We completed each other (not a good thing, Jerry Maguire!).
The other thing we had going on was the iconic “Fear of losing the other vs. Fear of losing oneself” scenario. Henry talks about it in his book, Mindful Loving. One person (me) is playing out the fear of abandonment or not entirely having the other’s attention, while the other person (him) is running for his life to not be swallowed up whole. So you can imagine how that goes, round and round.
Maybe you can relate. Or maybe you are doing another dance with fancy steps and dips and twirls that keeps you dazed and lost and unable to find contentment in your relationship.
The good news is that the dance is showing us where we can grow and open more to love, for ourselves and others.
The better news is that it only takes one person to stop and the dance is over.
Here’s how I stopped doing the dance and began to gain the insight that it was offering to me:
I stepped back and focused on myself.
Individual therapy or healing work, life coaching, meditating, 12 Step programs — these and other methods bring us back to the primary job we have in this life. It’s easy to focus on the other person’s issues or flaws and what we are not getting from them. It takes courage but is worthwhile to focus on ourselves and to re-member our wholeness, our wellness and our loving center.
I was willing to do the work in art therapy, with energy psychology and in Al-Anon. I tapped into my anger and resentment. I practiced allowing it, and all feelings, to move through me. I let go of the need for the chase — of always trying to get someone to love me.
You know how I know that I let go of those patterns? I have a new husband, and we do a new dance.
He’s always present and available. No need to chase anyone. I can get pissed off with no problem. Our dance is “You don’t listen to me or consider me” on the one side, mingling with “You don’t believe in my capability and knowledge”.
Oh, it’s so much fun.
So the work continues, of loving myself, focusing on myself, listening to myself… so that I may be a more loving partner, and human, and dancer.