I wrote this yesterday:
I don’t often see you as you are. I see you as I want you to be – kind, compassionate, loving. and when you show your shadow side – unkind, less than compassionate, less than loving – I can’t really cope with it. I am wounded, perhaps unreasonably so. The people I love should never hurt me, right? Yet, I feel pain, frequently. It’s either true that people are hurting me, or I’m frequently mistaken.
And it’s hard to tell the difference. That’s the legacy of coming from a deeply dysfunctional home. You carry this inability to tell the difference into adulthood.
I allowed my husband’s drinking binges.
He allowed my addictions, too.
My love/relationship addiction. It’s what’s in my shadow.
There’s been a ‘sickness’ in me with regards to love. I loved in all the ‘wrong’ ways – obsessive, desperate, clinging. There’s been the immature fantasy that I wanted to merge with Other, lose myself completely in Other. [Though, I found, it’s awfully hard to do that when they turn away from you and into a bottle, or withdraw from you in silence.]
My fantasy went something like this:
“I make you perfect in my heart. I glorify you, deify you, worship you. I would sacrifice my entire self for an expression of your love. I would give myself up to be loved by you..I would let you abuse me, because at least it would be some kind of attention from you.”
I remember pretty obsessively listening to The Police’s Every Breath You Take as a teenager.
The deeply neglected, abused child I was had no real love and acceptance for 18 years except in songs. Even my first boyfriend broke up with me after a month in a letter, because my mother prohibited me from seeing him (the first of a many prohibited relationships).
As someone who no one loved and was the scapegoat of the family, the whipping girl for other people’s rage – this kind of dark, obsessive love was in my shadow. I wanted to be loved like that. I wanted to belong, not to a group, but to a someone – truly, madly, deeply. I didn’t want to be loved in a healthy way (not really knowing what that was), but consumed in a fiery passion.
I spent a few really dark years as a lot of my disowned rage at my parents for the lack of care and the abuse I received surface in myriad ways. Just ask my husband.
But I’m working through all of this, with a great deal of self-acceptance and self-compassion.
It’s been a long road to recovery, but I’m making progress and I’m really grateful I can actually feel the progress I’m making. These are internal shifts towards health and well-being. I’m feeling so much better lately.
And I will eventually lose my Self. But not submerged in Other.
I believe dissolving the Egoic Self is necessary for true and healthy communion with Other. As long as I see you through the eyes of my Ego, I don’t see you at all.
I don’t want to ignore your shadow side. I don’t want to judge you for it, but I don’t want to see you with “Mama eyes” (as Reverend K. Cottell calls it) and enable you to harm me.
I am the first one who will say that when it comes to judging other people, it is best not to, for the simple truth that no one alive likes being judged, at all, but we all do it – each and every one of us does it. It takes practice to learn not to. This I know from experiencing learning not to be judgmental. There is another side of being judgmental, the side that tells us that we need to be as nice as we can be about anything at all, especially and including when it comes to our friends and the people about whom we care the very most. We have what I refer to as being “mama eyes,” meaning that until we are ready to face the disappointment brought with judging people as being a lot better than they really are, we will always and only see what we want to see, and sometimes what we want to see, we want to see it so badly that the shininess from our own thought about a person will be what blinds us to the truth.
~ Reverend K. Cottell, Eventually the Bubble Does Burst
As a recovering adult child of an alcoholic father/stepfather and a narcissistic mother and love/relationship “addict”, I hadn’t been able to see very clearly at all. I mean, how could I possibly see Truth when everyone around me distorted it?
I think in about the past two years, my illusions about other people have been unraveling one by one – my husband, my friends, my Self. It’s been a very painful experience as my ego had a lot to say about it and much of it not pleasant. And I’m finally moving into a less judgmental, more compassionate space for myself, which allows me to see other people’s illusions with more compassion. I’ve had to allow myself the space to do that though. I’ve withdrawn from all of my friendships in an effort to gain clarity.
I just read a little quote from Rick Hanson in an email update I get:
Enjoy the freedom “not to”.
The freedom not to feel so pushed and prodded at this time of year, the freedom to disengage from habitual patterns of reaction, the freedom to choose how you will relate to your circumstances.
I think that’s amazing. I can enjoy the freedom not to feel pushed, prodded into anything…including going to recovery meetings if I just don’t feel like it (I do, for now)…and I can be free to disengage from my reactionary patterns. I get to choose how I will relate to the inner and outer obstacles.
I also get to choose not to pursue friendships at this time. I hope, someday, I will find friends who are healthy.
I think my relationship to my own husband is deepening, too, as I heal and I learn to trust myself more, I can trust him more too.