I just found out that May is Personal History month which naturally caused me to think about my own history. This is a picture of my paternal grandmother, Anna Bozigian Bedrosian who, because of her determination, inspired me to reach for a better life.
As a therapist and a person eager for self knowledge I’ve spent more than a few hours on the other side of the proverbial analyst’s couch. I believed I’d ‘left no stone unturned’, no dark ally unlit and no shadowy corner unexplored. I revamped my internal landscape.
As a result of that deep healing I integrated both the challenges and the gifts of my history. My personal story became more dimensional and my relationships less complicated.
Ah, hold on there…I need to add a caveat since my primary romantic relationship can be the exception to that rule. My serene internal landscape can become a mine field in no time flat.
I’m not complaining…as we say in Imago Relationship Therapy, “What an opportunity!”
Being in a committed relationship can feel like you are in combat. It is rigorous and challenging and sometimes takes us to the edge of our sanity. Our partner can take on the most monstrous qualities and we can become convinced they are trying to destroy us.
It makes you wonder why anyone would volunteer for such a torturous experience. Well, it’s because of the blessed rewards. No one can heal you in quite the same way as your partner. As Hedy Schleifer says, “It’s not okay to hire someone to do a job and then fire them for doing it.”
On an unconscious level you choose your partner because they hold the key to your healing and you to theirs. Unfortunately your protective defenses do not want to give up so easily. That’s where the frustrations and power struggles come from. It’s a battle of the egos, the part of our unconscious, conditioned mind that is in charge of preserving our “me” from outside intrusion.
In some twisted way we can only hope we loose that battle. Wave that white flag and give up. Surrender so you can have the opportunity to become a more authentic, joyful self. It’s amazingly euphoric when you find a partner willing to engage in that conflict so you can reach that place together.
What does this have to do with personal history? You choose this partner because of your family of origin and what you learned about love. In your unconscious belief system, all the positives and negatives of your life equal love. Your partner carries those positive and negative qualities and you carry theirs. That’s why it can feel as if you’ve known them your whole life…you have!
We enter into our adult relationships to heal and grow and nature doesn’t care if you are happy. It just wants you to be whole. When you are in a committed relationship with a partner who is also committed to the journey, you are healing and growing all the time. Each moment is a new one and you have no idea what you or your partner are capable of in each new moment.
That is why it is so important to show up to every encounter without expectations. You cannot hold yourself or your partner to the old way of being; someone more healed and enlightened might show up and surprise both of you. That makes the whole crazy process worth while. That moment when someone has worked so hard to be more whole and available to love you in just the way you need to be loved is better than chocolate lava cake (gluten free, if that’s your preference).
Letting go of what you think you know can trigger fear and defensiveness and restraining from that well worn path requires discipline. Another one of my mentors, Maya Kollman often shares something from Native American philosophy, “If you think you know someone, you prevent them from showing up in the moment.” Let me repeat that. “If you think you know someone, you prevent them from showing up in the moment.” … Allowing your partner to show up anew is love in action.
Allow your personal history to unfold before your eyes. Allow yourself to return to a child’s mind where everything is new and unexpected. Allow yourself and your partner to grow and heal and to become more authentic versions of yourselves.
Then, go out and celebrate…with some luscious des