Keeping the Love You Find

By Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., ISBN 0-671-73420-2

 

 

5 star must reading.   [The following is what I highlighted during my read of this excellent book -- I recommend it on my Top-ten List of Peace resources.  My purpose in providing them is to interest you, the reader, and hope that you will obtain and read the complete work.  To properly understand the highlights, you need to read the book to put them in the proper context.]

 

Introduction

 

… most of us still harbor the dream of lasting love. We still hope that it will happen to us.

I believe that dream is possible for just about anyone who chooses to pursue it … and I believe that it’s fulfillment is vital to our wholeness.

 

A PERSONAL NOTE

 

… in order for [people] to heal their marriages, there is much to learn—about themselves and about relationships. … the long, arduous process of reeducation and re-loving.

 

… we just didn’t have the information and skills vital to the survival of our partnership.

 

… you are fortunate to be single in a culture that offers you the wherewithal and the opportunity to know yourself and your needs, to learn how to live on your own, to experiment with sex, relationships, and careers before you marry.

 

… the perfect mate is a myth.

 

… I don’t believe that you can fully grow and become whole except in a committed relationship.

 

I believe in the transforming power of love. …  Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, which was about repairing damaged relationships. Keeping the Love You Find is about preventing them.

 

 

PART 1

BEING HUMAN,

BEING SINGLE

 

1: What’s Wrong with Being Single?

 

Everything that lives, lives not alone nor for itself.

--William Blake

 

… we have an unconscious yearning for partnership, which is essential for our fulfillment; without it we can never feel whole.

 

Singledom: A Neglected Rite of Passage

 

A BETTER WAY

 

We need to redefine singleness, to update the rules, and to educate singles as to the purpose and benefits of this vital transition.

 

If it were to become the norm for singles to delay marriage until they had made this journey, many of the problems that sabotage relationships would not arise.

 

 

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BE SINGLE

 

But a moratorium on mate hunting can be an invaluable opportunity for self-discovery at any age. Even forced, unwanted singleness can be a blessing in disguise, a time for healing and reestablishing one’s priorities and sense of oneself.

 

… a wonderful balm, a time to heal and to reconnect with themselves.

 

… what they should have done before they married the first time: live alone, find their own rhythms, date a variety of people, go into therapy, develop new friends and interests, learn how to live with and care for themselves.

 

 

WE GOTTA HAVE IT

 

… in order to feel whole, to feel fully alive, fully human, and to heal the wounds we carry from childhood, we’ve gotta have it.

 

We have only to recall how alive and at peace with the world we feel when we are in love and connected to another, how disconnected and out of sorts we feel when such a connection is missing, to see the truth of this.

 

In choosing to remain single we are accepting a cap on our development and ignoring the directives of the unconscious at our peril. We are meant to be coupled.

 

 

THE PROBLEM WITH SINGLES

 

… sorely lacking in basic communication and relationship skills…

 

They have adult privileges and adult possessions, but they haven’t reached adulthood, and that’s why they are chronically single.

 

… inner selves remain unexamined and neglected.

 

… the fault is in themselves…

 

… nothing will change until they change. They won’t meet a healthier, more mature lover until they are healthier and more mature, until they’ve don their homework and preparation.

 

 

FINDING A LOVE TO KEEP

 

Shyness, fear, ambivalence, and past dating disasters can be powerful inhibitors…

 

But the inescapable truth is that in order to have a relationship, you have to put yourself in a position to meet people.

 

Watch out for self-defeating behavior.

 

 

YOUR MISSION : BE PREPARED

 

I like to compare marriage to a rafting trip down the Colorado River .

 

… what you are doing is preparing for a journey—the journey of marriage.

 

… you cannot avoid its perils.

 

Stubbornly, we want what we need without having to change who we are, but that is impossible, for what we need is ourselves—our lost wholeness—which is attainable only through changing what we have become.

 

… you are going to study the terrain, and acquire the right stuff, so that you will be able to improvise successfully in almost any situation.

 

 

Forget the Mating Game!

 

The answers to your problems are not “out there” but in your acknowledging your freedom and power to grow within yourself, in your intention to make changes, to take responsibility for what is happening in your life—in short, to undertake the journey toward your own maturation.

 

There are essentially four things you must do

  1. Educate yourself about relationships.
  2. Educate yourself about yourself.
  3. Train yourself in the skills of relationships.
  4. Do what you can to change the behaviors and character defenses that are keeping you from keeping the love you find.

 

… current relationships are ideal training grounds for the real thing.

Becoming a “conscious single” is the preparation for the journey of marriage.

 

2: What’s Really Going On in Your Relationships?

 

The social fabric of our country is unraveling before our eyes, and the disintegration is directly traceable to the crisis in the family, specifically to the quality of marriages—the nest from which children come.

 

marriage has undergone a revolution in the last century. But our minds and our hearts have not kept up with this change.

 

… marriage is not—a rigid institution, but a psychological process that correlates to the evolution of the collective human psyche.

 

… the right to marry the person of one’s choice … radically transforming marriage … to a psychological and spiritual process.

 

 

ENTER THE UNCONSCIOUS

 

Coincident with the recognition of individual rights came a belief that human beings were inherently rational, could make logical choices, and were in total charge of their destiny. But that elevated … underneath our apparent but illusory rationality with a sea of chaotic instincts that influenced and often undermined our choices.

 

… love—or marriage, for that matter—is not what we think it is.

 

… what is going on in mate selection is not love, but need. Love, if it appears at all, appears in a marriage, as a result of our commitment to healing our partner.

 

 

The Imago: Our Ghost Partner

 

… what the unconscious wants is to become whole and to heal the wounds of childhood.

 

The failure of our society to recognize the problem and upgrade our understanding to match our psychic evolution portends serious trouble for our civilization.

 

… the truth is that the way you are living with that person must be changed.

 

Rather than getting rid of the partner and keeping the problem, you should get rid of the problem so that you can keep the partner.

 

…until we take steps to ensure good marriages, to facilitate individual happiness and fulfillment, until we learn what we’re about, we will continue to have desperate singles, joyless marriages, troubled children, and a society becoming more dysfunctional by the decade.

 

 

DOING IT DIFFERENTLY

 

The irony is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We have every opportunity, individually and societally, to have powerful, transforming marriages, and to have those marriages transform our society.

 

Somehow we have gotten the misguided idea that you have to leave a marriage in order to grow and change. But we are now discovering that powerful healing is possible through marriage—that marriage is not so much a rigid institution as it is the framework within which a dynamic process takes place. Marriage itself, properly understood, is the therapy we need to grow and become whole, to return to our innate joyful state.

 

The ingredients necessary for full growth and healing—attention, concentration, security, time, deepest intimacy, and the full mirroring of ourselves through our partner—are possible only in marriage.

 

 

Learning From Past Relationships

 

If we can look unblinkingly at the past, and honestly acknowledge what went wrong, what our unmet expectations were, and if we can be objective about the nature of our past partners, we have an ideal opportunity to see who we are, why we made the choices we’ve made, and how we behave in relationships.

 

 

3: The Human Journey

 

You are much larger than your personal experience, and your context is much greater than the network of your relationships.

 

 

WE WANT IT BACK

 

… our inchoate longing for connectedness … stem from a hazy memory that at one time we were not separate, but connected to everything and particularly to all other humans, in a way that felt safe and supporting.

 

 

NEW MIND OLD BRAIN

 

The old and new brain interact in a complex system of checks and balances, a dance of instinct and emotion tempering intellect and reason. We are only human, after all. The new brain cannot cope to overpower the old brain; it is its servant.

 

 

THE BASIC DRIVES: SAFETY FIRST

 

… the fundamental instinct of human consciousness in its biological form is to distinguish between safety and danger.

 

… four forms: to fight, to flee, to freeze passively, or to submit defensively.

 

Once a sense of safety, of survival, is assured, mammalian activity pretty much falls into six categories. We mate, we nurture the offspring of our mating, we work, eat and sleep, and we play.

 

 

EXPRESSING FULL ALIVENESS

 

… we want more … while it has always been believed that the fundamental search of human beings is for the meaning of life, what we are actually searching for, yearning for, is a feeling of aliveness.

 

… we are born with three instinctual directives: we want first to stay alive, but beyond that, we want to feel fully alive, and we want to express that aliveness.

 

… we live in a world, and in relationships, that don’t allow us to feel truly alive. And if we don’t feel alive, we feel like we’re going to die. So we do something, buy something, binge on something, take drugs, drink, run twenty miles, get laid, turn up the music.

 

 

In Quest of Full Aliveness

 

It is the recapturing of our sense of relaxed joyfulness, and a feeling of aliveness, that we seek in relationships.

 

… the caretaker, and now the lover, was never the reason for those feelings to begin with.

 

It’s an impossible task, more so since they are unaware of your expectations (and they unconsciously have the same impossible expectation of you).

 

… relationships are the key to recapturing our wholeness.

 

 

WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE

 

… the old brain is not altered by the cognitive process. It is altered only by concrete experience.

 

… you can’t go the whole way to healing without a partner.

 

The idea that we need the help of others for our fulfillment is unpopular because it challenges the primacy of the individual.

 

 

COMMIT TO WHOLENESS

 

… letting that love sink in over time so that trust can build…

… marriage is a spiritual path. It is nature’s repair process.

 

A conscious relationship is not your goal. Not at all; it is the path.

 

 

Part 2

THE IMAGO

PUZZLE 1:

CHILDHOOD

NURTURING

 

4: Growing Pains Uncovering the Wounds of Childhood

 

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

--Carlos Santayana

 

It is your own lost, wounded child that we will seek in these next chapters.

 

It is the healing of our wounds that we seek, consciously or not, in committed relationships.

 

 

THE LIFELONG PURSUIT OF WHOLENESS

 

The early childhood years from birth to the age of six are the most critical…

 

Failing to resolve the issues in our relationships, all our frustration and disappointment comes to a head in the mid-life crisis, a desperate neo-adolescent last-ditch attempt of the psyche to restore itself.

 

Healthy children don’t have mid-life crises.

 

 

BECOMING A DETECTIVE

 

If you can follow the trail from your childhood to your present situation—or, more likely, from the present backward to childhood—you will have the ingredients for understanding and change that will serve you in your current or future relationships.

 

… this is so hard, so tedious, so painful.

 

This work is the way.

 

 

THE ADULT CHILD: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHERE WE GOT STUCK?

 

… how important it is for you to recognize your personal quicksand if you hope to change the outcome of your future relationships.

 

 

5: Attachment and Exploration: Getting Securely Connected

 

The first and most important task of a human being has begun: Attachment.

 

… now knows the difference between pleasure and pain.

 

What babies need even more to survive is physical and emotional contact; they need a reliable source of love and comfort.

 

Somehow, with all the demands, the missed signals, the personal problems and distractions and crises, the week of the flu, and the imperfectly fulfilled wishes, the love and good intentions of many parents prevail. Their children feel securely connected. There caretaking, on a day-in and day-out basis, is, in psychologist D.D. Winnicott’s phrase, “good enough.”

 

 

ADAPTING TO DEFICIT NURTURING: COPING MECHANISMS

 

…“insecurely” or “anxiously” attached.

 

… “good” and “bad” traits of self and other…

 

… constricting or exploding energy in response to threatening stimuli … the Minimizer and the Maximizer

 

 

THE CLINGING CHILD: FEAR OF ABANDONMENT

 

… the caretaker is inconsistent…

 

The infant is in a dilemma because the object of pain and pleasure is the same.

 

… develops an  ambivalent defensive structure, alternately clinging and pushing away…

 

… develop an ambivalent (good/bad) attitude toward himself.

 

 

THE ADULT: A CLINGER

 

… core complaint … “you are never there for me.”

 

“I will hurt my partner until he meets my needs.”

 

 

THE DETACHED CHILD: FEAR OF REJECTION

 

Because contact results not in the pleasure of acceptance or satisfaction of needs but in emotional pain, the infant makes a fateful decision: avoid contact at all costs. “I am bad, the object (the caretaker) is bad, my needs are bad,”…

 

“I don’t have needs.”

 

… finally he rejects his life force.

 

To muffle the alarm, the detached child numbs his body and voids his feelings, vastly constricting—minimizing—his life energy. To contain it totally, he constructs a false self, which looks independent, but is actually counterdependent. The world admires his independence, but he lives virtually alone in his fortress, determined to avoid the pain of being vulnerable to rejection.

 

 

THE ADULT: AN AVOIDER

 

Large chunks of themselves are buried, especially their sensitive, feeling side and their capacity for emotional joy and body pleasure.

 

 

Interlude: The Minimizer and the Maximizer

 

… child wounded at the Attachment stage will be far more volatile—or passive—than a child whose injury takes place at the later stage…

 

In most couples, one is as wild as the other is restrained; it’s all relative.

 

Before he can solve his problems, he must first become aware of his feelings.

 

The maximizer has minimal internal and external boundaries…

 

Malleable and impressionable, he doesn’t know his own mind.

 

The Minimizer has tight, rigid boundaries, and relates everything to himself; he cannot walk in your shoes, or see your point of view.

 

 

ADAPTATIONS TO WOUNDING AT ATTACHMENT

 

THE AVOIDER: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Contact may lead to emotional and physical rejection, loss of self through contact with parent (partner)

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t be

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I have no right to exist

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I will be hurt if I initiate contact with you

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Demanding, all consuming

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Detached; avoidant

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Too much togetherness; too many feelings; too much chaos

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You hate me; you feel too much

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Terror and rage

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Hyperrational; avoidant; passive/aggressive withdrawal and coldness

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Claim right to be; initiate emotional and physical contact; express feelings; increase body awareness and sensory contact with environment

 

 

THE CLINGER: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Separation and abandonment; loss of self through loss of contact with parent (partner)

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t need me

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I can’t get my needs met

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I am safe if I hold on to you

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Unavailable; has no feelings; a rock wall

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Clinging; demanding; attempts to fuse

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Separateness

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You are never there

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Voracious rage and terror

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Hyperemotional, uncompromising; demanding, then giving in

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Let go; do things on your own; negotiate

 

 

Exploration: Love Affair with the World

 

… the goal of successful attachment is, paradoxically, the ability to be separate.

 

We are by nature relational, and our attachment needs are lifelong.

 

 

THE DISTANCING CHILD: FEAR OF ABSORPTION

 

When the Exploration phase is mishandled, children tend either to distance themselves from their parents or to become ambivalent.

 

Here is the passive/aggressive syndrome.

 

… Minimizer …

 

In a self-protective move to avoid being absorbed, his boundaries become closed and rigid.

 

… his fear is that if he gets too close, he’ll become trapped and unable to escape to explore on his own.

 

 

THE ADULT: AN ISOLATOR

 

Although he has buried needs for closeness, he fears smothering…

 

… enmeshment …

 

Passive aggression is what’s going on when we say we’re going to do something … but then we don’t do it. Afraid to say what we want or feel directly, because it feels so threatening to the fragile bonds of love, we acquiesce or make promises we don’t keep.

 

 

THE AMBIVALENT CHILD: FEAR OF LOSS

 

The result is a child who is fearful and dependent.

 

 

THE ADULT: A PURSUER

 

… employs all sorts of tactics to keep his partner close by.

 

… the Pursuer is afraid to stray far from home…

 

… always being nice and upbeat, trying to keep things comfortable and entertaining, always of service, fearful of anger or conflict that would lead to the partner leaving…

 

Terrified of being alone, or of being abandoned…

 

The Pursuer has needs, but he doesn’t give them any attention, because he has to first please his mate.

 

The fear of abandonment often expresses itself as jealousy.

 

You can see from these examples why Isolators and Pursuers tend to pair up; each offers what the other lacks. Of course, every couple has some of this push/pull going on. One wants more and the other less closeness, but they change their minds when they get what they want.

 

 

Was I Wounded at the Exploration Stage?

 

ADAPTATIONS TO WOUNDING AT EXPLORATION

 

THE ISOLATOR: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Being smothered, absorbed, humiliated, loss of parent (partner)

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t be separate

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I can’t say no and be loved

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I will be absorbed if I get close

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Insecure; too dependent; needy

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Sets limits on togetherness; passive/aggressive; acts out absorption fears by distancing

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Personal freedom; autonomy

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You need too much

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Fear and impotent fury

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Oppositional; distancing

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Initiate closeness; share feelings; increase time together; integrate positive and negative traits in partner

 

 

THE PURSUER: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Unreliability of others, abandonment; loss of parent (partner)

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t be dependent

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I can’t count on anyone

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: If I act independent, you will abandon me

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Distant; has no needs

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Ambivalent pursuit and withdrawal

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Partner reliability; support; standing

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You are never there when I need you

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Panic and anger

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Blaming, demanding; chasing; complaining; devaluing

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Initiate separateness; develop outside interests; internalize partner; integrate positive and negative traits of partner

 

 

6: Identity and Competence: Becoming a Self

 

Identity: “This Is Me”

 

… he must achieve two important tasks that will affect his relationship to himself and to others for the rest of his life: he must develop a stable and consistent inner image of himself and a correspondingly firm and constant inner image of the significant others in his life.

 

It allows the child to separate physically, while remaining connected psychically.

 

… Individuation…

 

 

THE RIGID CHILD: FEAR OF BEING SHAMED

 

… issue of invisibility, and both have to do with the way the child is mirrored, and how the mirroring affects the sense of personal boundaries.

 

The child, fearing shame—or even worse, loss of the parents’ love—if he expresses the core parts of himself that his parents reject, represses the rejected aspects and resentfully becomes what his parents approve.

 

… ends up with a “split self,” hiding the disapproved parts…

 

… has to do with gender…

 

… develops a false self by identifying only with parentally or socially approved traits.

 

His energy is limited to the mirrored traits, and those unmirrored traits become his recessive “Lost Self”, an aspect of his “shadow.”

 

…“I am not all right,” or “There is something wrong with me.”

 

… end up with a good and a bad parent in his head…

 

You can see why it is vitally important that parents mirror all of the child’s identifications, trusting in the internal process of synthesis to forge them into a unitary self.

 

 

THE ADULT: A RIGID CONTROLLER

 

… narrowly focused, often self-centered life. He has little access to feelings, and lacks empathy with others.

 

… can’t stand uncertainty…

 

He engages in a great deal of obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior.

 

Others are not seen for themselves, but as objects…

 

 

THE INVISIBLE CHILD: FEAR OF BEING A SELF

 

With no reflection of his self-expression, the child will lose sight of himself, and remain amorphous and undefined.

 

… unable to distinguish between himself and others.

 

… emotionally frozen…

 

“You don’t even notice me.”

 

… continually invading others’ territory, and unable to prevent others invading his.

 

 

THE ADULT: A COMPLIANT DIFFUSER

 

“I don’t know who I am” or “I don’t know what I want”

 

… criticizes her partner’s sexuality, devaluing him as she was devalued by her parents. A loose cannon of boundariless rage that she is not valued as a person, she makes her partner invisible.

 

Compliant Diffuser: “I’ll be loved if I please you.” Hurt and rageful on the other hand, she says: “I’ll be seen if it kills you.”

 

… their power struggle centers around dominance and submission.

 

One leads and the other follows. One is excessively dependent…

 

ADAPTATIONS TO WOUNDING AT IDENTITY

 

THE CONTROLLER: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Being shamed; loss of control; losing face; loss of parental (partner) love

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t be what you want to be, be what we want you to be

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I can’t be me and be accepted and loved

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I’ll be safe if I stay in control

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Unorganized; scatterbrained; over-emotional

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Domineering; critical; invasive; withholding

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Partner’s emotional lability, chaos, and passivity

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You want me to be somebody else; you don’t know what you want

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Shame and anger

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Rigidly imposes will; super-rational with occasional angry outbursts; takes charge; punishes

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Relax control; mirror partner’s thoughts and feelings; develop flexibility and sensitivity

 

 

THE DIFFUSER: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Being invisible, self-assertion, loss of parental (partner) love

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t assert yourself

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I’ll never be seen, valued, and accepted

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I’ll be loved if I go along and please others

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Insensitive; controlling

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Submissive; passive-aggressive; manipulative

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Partner rigidity and dominance

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You never see me; you want everything your way

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Shame and confusion

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Confused; alternates between compliance and defiance; exaggerates emotions; makes few suggestions; self-effacing

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Assert yourself; set boundaries for yourself; respect boundaries of others

 

 

Competence: “I Can Do It”

 

… you begin to compete with others… to discover your personal power and its limits, as well as to determine what belongs to you and what doesn’t.

 

The purpose of all this aggressive initiative is to experience the extent and limits of his power in the social world. The degree to which he succeeds will determine the way he values himself.

 

If all this is done well… he will have a high level of self-esteem… will be able to “love and work.”

 

 

THE COMPETITIVE CHILD: FEAR OF FAILURE/DISAPPROVAL

 

… deadens his conscience in order to relieve his pain. He gives up on intimacy and settles for success as an indirect bid for approval.

 

… unable to enjoy his life, because he never feels successful.

 

 

THE ADULT: A COMPULSIVE COMPETITOR

 

… skirts moral values.

 

… overreaching…

 

… still feels empty.

 

… win his father’s approval…

 

… starved for praise… for emotional warmth.

 

THE HELPLESS/MANIPULATIVE CHILD: FEAR OF AGGRESSIVENESS/SUCCESS

 

… some parents are consistent in their lack of support…

 

… alternates between feelings of helplessness and resentment.

 

… lacks empathy and experiences lapses of conscience.

 

… feels helpless to find a way to make an impact on the world, and to please his parents.

 

Full of resentment…

 

 

THE ADULT: A MANIPULATIVE COMPROMISER

 

“You don’t value anything I do”

 

Behind these complaints is a hidden resentment: “I’ll get even.”

 

… repercussions in adulthood of a malfunction at the Competence stage are not as devastating as if it happened earlier.

 

ADAPTATIONS TO WOUNDING AT COMPETENCE

 

THE COMPETITOR: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Being a failure, guilt and disapproval; fear of parental (partner) disapproval

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t make mistakes

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I have to be perfect

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I’ll be loved if I am the best

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Manipulative; incompetent

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Competitive; aggressive; puts partner down

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Control; battle for who’s boss

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You are never satisfied

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Anger and guilt

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Competes for control

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Accept competence; become cooperative; mirror and value partner’s efforts

 

 

THE COMPROMISER: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Being aggressive, successful, competent, and powerful, losing parental (partner) approval

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t be powerful

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I don’t know what to do; I can’t be aggressive or express anger

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I’ll be loved if I am good and cooperative

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Never satisfied; has to win

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Manipulative; compromising; sabotaging

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Feeling controlled; efforts not valued

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You always have to win

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Helpless and resentful

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Compromises; manipulates

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Be direct; express power; develop competence; praise partner’s success

 

 

Chapter 7: Concern and Intimacy: Moving Out into the World

 

The healthy outcome of the early years is a secure, competent child with a conscience.

 

… object constancy.

 

He will have to become attached to his peers, and in particular to a special “chum”; differentiate himself from them; establish his own identity among them; and develop competence in his dealings with them, so that he emerges secure and confident in his dealings with others.

 

… do all kinds of things to distract themselves from (and call attention to) their pain, in an effort to get their parents to provide the love and security they didn’t get in childhood.

 

 

Concern: “I Belong”

 

… interest in his friend’s welfare is the best strategy for success…

 

… part of the parental task is to teach the child social skills.

 

… the child sees that who he is in the world is of value.

 

 

 

 

The Lonely Child: Fear of Others/Ostracism

 

Though he looks independent, and denies that he needs or wants friends, he is acutely lonely.

 

 

The Adult: A Loner

 

… hard time sharing his feelings.

 

… filled with the intense, often painful feelings, including the powerful belief that he is unlovable.

 

… vulnerable to addiction—drugs, alcohol, work.

 

 

The Gregarious Child: Fear of Neediness/Being Alone

 

The gregarious child is excessively interested in the welfare and caretaking of others.

 

The problem is that his self is defined by the approval of others, and is sacrificed to their views and needs.

 

… feels invisible… He is trapped trying to please others to validate his life.

 

… needy to be needed… life of codependency.

 

 

The Adult: A Sacrificing Caretaker

 

… gets his recognition … by making himself indispensable.

 

If he doesn’t feel needed… he doesn’t know how he fits in.

 

But often, under his cheery “I can do it” exterior, he is depressed, and feels that something is missing.

 

 

 

ADAPTATIONS TO WOUNDING AT THE STAGE OF CONCERN

 

THE LONER: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Ostracism by peers; parental (partner) rejection

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t be close

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I am not lovable

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I’ll be hurt if I try to be close

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Gregarious and intrusive

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Exclude partner from inner world; make unilateral plans; counterdependent

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Partner intrusiveness

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You don’t like me; you won’t leave me alone

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Resentment and depression

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Avoids conflict; sulks

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Develop same-sex friends; join partner in socializing; share feelings and thoughts with partner; become inclusive

 

 

THE CARETAKER: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Having or expressing needs; being excluded; parental (partner) rejection

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t have any needs of your own

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: Others need me

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I’ll be loved if I meet your needs

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Unappreciative

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Self-sacrificing; intrusive

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Partner’s exclusion

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You don’t appreciate me or my efforts

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Resentment and depression

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Tries to be understanding and nice

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Express needs to partner and others; self-care; respect partner’s privacy; take time alone

 

 

Intimacy: “I Can Be Close and Loving”

 

The adolescent’s task is to separate more definitively from the family, to solidify his place in the social order of his peers, and to establish a satisfying sexual and emotional intimacy with someone of the opposite sex.

 

… if his parents have a troubled dynamic…

 

In addition to their example, he needs their support.

 

 

The Rebellious Child: Fear of Being Controlled

 

… break the rules that he finds too limiting…

 

… meant to provoke.

 

 

The Adult: A Rebel

 

… crusading… goes out of his way to set himself apart.

 

Needs his freedom and his “space,” but he can easily be made to feel guilty.

 

… may become a social reformer.

 

… criticizes her for being so proper…

 

 

The Model Child: Fear of Being Different

 

The child buys the party line that the only way you’ll be loved is to be like everyone else and “do what is right.”

 

 

The Adult: A Conformist

 

… don’t make waves…

 

They often have rich fantasies of aberrant sexuality…

 

Secretly they yearn to be free of constrictive rules, which they often break in private.

 

… condescending to rebellious partners and try to control them…

 

… the push/pull dynamic of couples whose wounding occurred at these later stages of Concern or Intimacy is more fluid… tend to alternate roles…

 

 

ADAPTATIONS TO WOUNDING AT THE STAGE OF INTIMACY

 

THE REBEL: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Being controlled by others (parent/partner)

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t grow up

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I am not trusted

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I’ll be controlled if I give up dissent

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Too nice; counter-controlling; guilting; parental

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Rebellious; controlling; devalues partner

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Freedom to break the rules

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You are never on my side

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Anger and disappointment

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Rebellious; suspicious of motives

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Maintain self-identity; be responsible to others; learn to trust others

 

 

THE CONFORMIST: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries

 

1

2

3

4

5

Basic Fear (Wound): Being different from others; disapproval of parent (partner)

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Message: Don’t make waves

 

 

 

 

 

Core Belief: I have to be good

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Belief: I have to hold things together

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Partner: Rebellious child

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship to partner: Condescending; critical; controlling

 

 

 

 

 

Core Issue: Stability and cooperation

 

 

 

 

 

Typical Frustration: You won’t grow up; you always want to be different

 

 

 

 

 

Recurrent Feeling: Angry self-righteousness

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Management: Tries to impose rules

 

 

 

 

 

Growth Challenge: Experiment with being different; take risks, develop identity

 

 

Am I a Minimizer or a Maximizer?

 

                                                                       

                                               

                                                           

                       

                                               

                                   

           

                                                           

Minimizer

Implodes feelings inward

Diminishes affect

Denies dependency (counter-dependent)

Generally denies needs

Shares little of his inner world

Tends to exclude others from his psychic space

Withholds feelings, thoughts, behaviors

Has rigid self-boundaries

Inner-directed; takes direction mainly from himself

Mainly thinks about himself

Acts and thinks compulsively

Tries to dominate others

Tends to be passive-aggressive

Maximizer

Explodes feelings outward

Exaggerates affect

Tends to depend on others

Generally exaggerates needs

Is compulsively open; subjective

Tends to be overly inclusive of others in psychic space

Tends toward clinging and excessive generosity

Has diffuse self-boundaries

Outer-directed; generally asks for direction from others, distrusts own directions

Focuses on others

Acts impulsively

Usually submissive, manipulative

Alternates between aggressiveness and passivity

 

Well, that’s pretty depressing, isn’t it? It’s a wonder we can get out of bed in the morning, and dress and feed ourselves, with all the baggage we’re carting around, all the indirection and defensiveness. I agree that this is the hard part; but it is also the hopeful part. Fortunately, we can repair the damage if we work at it. In fact, in doing so we are aligning with our fervent unconscious wish to be whole.

 

 

8: Traumatized Relationships: Legacy of the Dysfunctional Family

 

They are the victims of parenting additionally impaired by alcohol and drug abuse, physical and emotional battering, incest, violence, and trauma that affect more than half of American families. You may belong to this large population, which has become highly visible in this last decade of the twentieth century. If so, you will have to contend with more severe difficulties and complications in your attempts to establish a lasting relationship.

 

… children from toxic environments are fated to repeat the problems of their childhood as adults…

 

 

A Matter of Degree

 

... the dynamics of toxic families differ only in degree from those of a “normal,” functional family. The process of wounding is the same. Everyone’s troubles are the result of the deprivation of pleasure, the infliction of pain, and the lack of emotional safety; this is the core of the human condition.

 

… the caretakers in the disturbed family are mortally wounded themselves…

 

Such parents have nothing to give, no resources to draw on.

 

Because the damaging environment is in place at birth, the child from the dysfunctional family is deeply wounded—deprived, abused, neglected—during the crucial early stages of Attachment and Exploration, in ways that the old brain will not forget.

 

 

It’s All Trauma

 

Because the wounds are similarly affecting, with similar consequences, the path to wholeness… is the same.

 

 

SHELL-SHOCKED CHILDREN

 

All PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) sufferers are responding to a life-threatening experience over which they had no control.

 

And what he is responding to—whether it’s the original trauma or the harmless everyday event that brings the original memory flooding back—is the threat of death.

 

 

WHY ARE ONLY SOME CHILDREN AFFECTED?

 

… undergo brain-chemistry changes as … the “kindling effect,”…

 

 

UNEXPERIENCED EXPERIENCE

 

… having no wherewithal to understand the trauma or to do anything to stop it, we repress it.

 

… we literally don’t know it’s there.

 

The truth is inadmissible, so we hide it from ourselves.

 

… is literally “unthinkable.”

 

Unable to confront their inner demons, they can’t even begin to let the experience out, and so carry it coursing through their bodies and nervous systems, where it wields a powerful control over their lives.

 

Seen from this vantage point, all abuse is trauma, and the reaction will be that associated with trauma: continuous, instinctive, repetitive, exaggerated—and inappropriate—responses… if life experience doesn’t correct thim.

 

Emotional Abuse

 

 … probably the most widespread form of childhood trauma.

 

… accesses latent nurturing in the child which is age inappropriate and deprives the daughter of the nurturing she needs to become a self.

 

Emotional abuse is particularly confusing because it often feels good.

 

Many emotionally abused adults cannot, will not, admit that what happened to them was abusive…

 

 

Who’s to Blame?

 

It seems easy to fix the blame in these situations, but this is dangerously misguided. It takes two to create this warped ballet.

 

It is crucial, if problems are solved, to take a blameless look at partner dynamics.

 

… unconscious drove him to a rash act…

 

… what we want is to feel fully alive. We want to recover our lost selves, to regain joy and pleasure, to be whole. We want ourselves back.

 

… inappropriate reactions to powerlessness.

 

Love deprivation is equally devastating.

 

 

IS THE CHILD AT FAULT?

 

However blameless the child, though, the adult who takes on the responsibility of a partner or children must own his behavior, no matter how rooted in childhood trauma over which he had no control. And the first step is to recognize the family dysfunction and its present-day impact in his relationships.

 

 

Are You from a Dysfunctional Family?

 

… their pasts have poisoned the present.

But ignorance is not bliss.

 

The only way out, as they say, is through. No healing is possible until the truth is out in the open.

1. There was secrecy and denial.

 

… secretiveness, denial, and deflection are hallmarks of a toxic home environment.

 

… what was wrong… was not talked about, and the child was unsure of the validity of his own experience. A prisoner of the family cover-up, he colluded in the lie.

 

… amnesiac barrier…

 

2. You have a distorted sense of yourself.

 

… feels worthless…

 

… codependency.

 

3. Your relationships have been haunted by the specter of the problems of your childhood home.

 

… since, whether overdependent or overdetached, we lack the tools for intimacy, and since our internal wiring has us rooted in the past, we are in no condition to face present realities, or to find solutions.

 

4. You rarely experience joy or pleasure.

 

5. You are an addict.

 

 

How Can I Break the Pattern?

 

You must examine your childhood courageously… changing behavior patterns…

 

The process will be longer, harder, and more painful. There is more to heal, and the lost child is more deeply buried. Denial of the past is stronger, the fear of facing it greater. Beliefs and behavior are more rigid. The anger, and the tendency to blame, are greater. The shame may feel paralyzing. But you, especially, must acknowledge the wrong done to you, express your anger, and be able to let go of blame—of yourself and your caretakers. Surrendering to the process is essential.

 

There is no way around this.

 

… need to confront those very problems as adults in order to heal. “All you can hope for,” I have to tell them, “is to find someone who is aware of his or her problems and willing to do, with you, the hard work necessary to heal.

 

The idea of the disposability of the troubled spouse is dangerous and destructive. Relationship problems are a dynamic between two people: until you are perfect, there is no perfect partner. Until you correct your codependent behavior, you will choose an abuser partner. While you are an addict, the only partner you will find will be codependent.

 

… the relationship itself is always a vital part of the cure.

 

Running away solves nothing; eventually the same problems show up further down the road.

 

When it is clear that a partner is unaware of his problems or unwilling to do anything about them, there is probably no way to salvage the relationship.

 

Your awareness and your intention will make the difference. You must surrender to the process, and have faith that your efforts will move you toward wholeness. I urge you to do as much as you can now to become aware of your past, to find a supportive environment in which you can open up your wounds, however horrid, and begin to feel the experience that has so long been shut out. Make the changes you can make on your own—through therapy, a twelve-step program, and some of the exercises in part V.

 

 

Part III

The Imago Puzzle II: Childhood Socialization

 

9: “For Your Own Good”: The Messages of Socialization

 

… there is another important aspect of your childhood that you must understand in order to make your self-knowledge more complete and to deepen your preparations.

 

Our parents were educating us in the ways of the world we live in, so that we would be safe outside the walls of our home. We were being socialized.

 

… nurturing is internal… socialization is external…

 

In the next three chapters we will look at how the messages of socialization mold our personalities so that we repress certain essential aspects of ourselves…

 

… we also choose partners who are able to express the traits that we repress.

 

 

SOCIETY’S CHILD

 

The premise of socialization is twofold: that society is dangerous to you and that you, without proper shaping, are a danger to society.

 

All social systems view the individual as dangerous and constraint as therefore necessary. However, the method of constraint differs according to the cultural philosophy.

 

Since that tailoring requires a modification of our original selves, we are inevitably wounded in the process.

 

The damage comes as the result of the method, and the ideology that informs it.

 

 

THE PRICE OF SOCIALIZATION

 

However, since we have an innate drive for wholeness, a compulsion to recover our true selves pursues us relentlessly throughout our lives.

 

By understanding how our wholeness was violated, how we were pruned and abridged—and how that wound affects our relationships—we can begin to repair the damage.

 

 

Getting the Message

 

THE MODEL MARRIAGE

 

Our parents’ marriage is a powerful, ever-present teaching tool, especially when it comes to learning how to conduct ourselves in a relationship.

 

 

Bullied by our Beliefs

 

Your self-knowledge is incomplete, and your preparation for marriage limited, without insight into how you were affected by what you saw and imitated.

 

… we get tripped up by our belief systems…

 

models, rather than each discrete experience, become the reality.

 

 

10: Recovering the Missing Self: Love’s Agenda

 

Falling in Love: What’s Lost is Found

 

Nature… With sly wisdom, it pairs you with an incompatible partner to create the chemistry for growth.

 

 

AWAKENING THE SLEEPING BEAST

 

… we are awakening a sleeping beast: the part of ourselves that we were told—and unconsciously believe—is dangerous to have. What you love in your partner is what you buried in yourself in order to survive. What first attracted you, and momentarily liberated you, will eventually stir up what has been forbidden, causing you to squirm in discomfort.

 

 

OWNING THE MISSING SELF

 

Whether we admit it or not, our intimate others—partners, colleagues, and children—know about the traits that we deny ourselves. They are the “mirrors” in which we can see hidden aspects of ourselves.

 

 

Putting Ourselves Back Together

 

The conflicts you will have with your partner are externalizations of the conflicts going on inside you.

 

… there’s actually a self-betrayal going on—in projecting your own buried qualities onto another, and then treating them accordingly, you are denying yourself.

 

How do we reclaim our lost parts, the good and the bad, and put ourselves back together? We come back to the same answer: through the long, demanding work of a conscious relationship with an Imago partner. What appears to be nature’s dirty trick is actually benevolent: there is a beautiful symmetry to the healing process, as there is to our wounding.

 

They say that breaking up is hard to do, but that is wrong. It’s easy to walk away before the going gets tough, to find another dreamboat—until the ship starts to sink again. It’s waking up that’s hard to do.

 

 

11: Gender and Sexuality: Making Love, Not War

 

… the biological and culturally maintained differences between men and women are a core source of conflict for most couples, particularly because those differences—some of which are changeable and some not—are often ignored as they search for the root of their predicament.

 

… understand those differences and, beyond that, to transcend them.

 

When we socialize children to be “men” and “women,” what we end up with is the “battle of the sexes.” Relations between men and women in our society have indeed become so polarized, so dominated by anger and mistrust, that they often resemble war.

 

Men and women are at odds because they literally don’t understand each other.

 

Resolution, therefore, requires first becoming aware of how men and women differ biologically and psychologically, and then seeing how these differences are culturally magnified and distorted.

 

RUMBLING IN THE PSYCHE: THE EMERGING FEMININE

 

… what is needed is synthesis.

 

 

HORMONES AND THE BRAIN

 

Men approach it … “as an individual in a hierarchical social order… Life, then, is a contest, a struggle to preserve independence and avoid failure.”

 

Women approach the world “as an individual in a network of connections… Life, then, is a community, a struggle to preserve intimacy and avoid isolation.”

 

 

Is Culture the Culprit?

 

The industrial revolution, when fathers for the first time left home to work in factories while mothers stayed at home, powerfully defined gender roles.

 

Eventually culture is expressed biologically, as competitiveness in men or cooperation in women.

 

 

Playing Our Roles, Losing Our Selves

 

Culturally determined sex roles and stereotypes (and the value assigned to them)—not biological differences—unquestionably have the most destructive influence on individual growth and the relations between the sexes. In actuality, gender develops along a continuum.

 

… unsure of who they are… they suffer an identity crisis…

 

Men will be faced with the need to accept their female natures through having to accept the equality of those on whom they now project their recessive, denied female energy—women, their partners. It is a crisis that can lead to reintegration—or to disintegration and increased male-female antipathy.

 

… because they were psychic strangers to each other, and because they were dependent on each other for what was missing in themselves, such symbiotic matches eventually led to conflict, alienation, and criticism for what the other lacked.

 

… a union of two whole people in which neither one has to carry the undeveloped or unrecognized parts of the other, but carry their own complete nature and relate to each other from that experience of wholeness.

 

 

Owning Your Contrasexual Self: Swimming Against the Tide

 

… how are men and women—who sometimes seem like fundamentally different species, raised in seemingly disparate cultures—to live in peace? 1) By becoming aware of both the genetic differences and the cultural biases that separate male and female; 2) By honoring the equal value of masculine and feminine energies; 3) By developing their own contrasexual energies, so that they are not dependent on their partners to provide what is lacking in themselves.

 

 

YOUR PARTNER IS NOT YOU!

 

If you hope to succeed in your partnership, you must first and foremost accept one shocking reality: your partner is not you. He or she is an equally valid and worthy “other.”

 

This sort of exclusionary thinking is, of course, the basis not only for gender wars but for bigotry, nationalism, and the kind of religious fervor that leads to war. It is narrow-minded provincialism.

 

To recognize the equal worth of another is to give up our egocentricity, to share the center.

 

 

DIALOGUE IS ALL WE CAN HAVE

 

Befriending and learning from the opposite sex is a primary means of getting in touch with our contrasexual energy.

 

 

MOVING TOWARD ANDROGYNY

 

Transcending cultural stereotypes to experience our whole selves moves us toward androgyny. We are inherently androgynous creatures, embodying both male and female energy…

 

It does not mean asexual… It refers to an inner balance and wholeness that allows us to be strong or gentle, logical or emotional, as required, because we are comfortable with a full range of modes of being.

 

… more integrated…

 

… requires being conscious and intentional about who we are and how we behave, which is what this book is all about.

 

 

Sexuality: Me Tarzan, You Jane

 

Our sexuality is a highly personal and central aspect of our identity, and it plays an unparalleled role in our relationships.

 

… sexuality, like gender, is largely a cultural construct. What we believe and do sexually is what we’re taught to believe and allowed to do.

 

The fallout in relationships of the effects of our sex-negative, pleasure-negative culture would fill another book.

 

Rather than viewing human nature as essentially good, and sex as life affirming (as is the case in some Eastern cultures), our attitudes toward sex—the evils of the flesh—are based on the premise that human nature is essentially evil and sex the depraved act of an evil being.

 

… sex has come out of the closet in recent history…

 

A culture that denies pleasure breeds the expression of pleasure in distorted ways: rampant drug and alcohol abuse, for example—and violence. Rape, in particular, has nothing to do with sexual pleasure, and everything to do with the lack of, or denial of, pleasure. The depersonalization of the other, in rape, is an expression of a split self, a desperate attempt to connect with the hated opposite in oneself. A rapist suffers from sensory deprivation, from the repression of eros, from a deep self-hatred acted out upon a hated object—the perfect formula for violence. Sexually permissive cultures are typically nonviolent.

 

 

THE SEX-LOVE TRADE-OFF

 

The culturally imposed sex roles and sexual stereotypes we have been discussing with respect to gender are particularly devastating in the sexual arena.

 

… the conflict between men and women in the sexual arena is not a “natural” byproduct of biology or nature, but a reflection of patriarchal power.

 

Sexual intimacy—like all intimacy—requires equality.

 

 

 

RECLAIMING SEXUAL PLEASURE

 

We are sexual beings, and our sexuality is a part of the pulsating energy of life, which we express through mind, body, and psyche.

 

Sexuality is the spiritual center of partnership and the foundation on which trust and commitment rest.

 

We recapture our sexuality … through becoming conscious and transcultural.

 

Communication with your sexual partner is the key to knowing, to penetrating the mystery of the other who is different from you.

 

 

Part IV

The Journey of Partnership

 

12: The imago: Recipe for Romance

 

The Imago: Distillation of Childhood Experience

 

… lets review the ingredients of the Imago.

 

1. Your Imago match resembles your childhood caretakers.

 

… the old brain is making sure that we find what we need to heal.

 

2. Your Imago match possesses some of your Denied Self traits.

 

3. Your Imago match possesses some of the traits of your Lost Self.

 

4. Your Imago possesses some of the Contrasexual Self traits that you lack.

 

An intricate, subtle blend of what our unconscious perceives as the source of healing for our discrete wounds, our Imago match is, in many ways, the last thing we consciously want.

 

 

THE ILLUSION OF LOVE

 

The Imago, then, is an image … of wholeness…

 

Life energy vibrates at a higher frequency.

 

 

THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE

 

… four phenomena which are embodied in what appears to be the universal language of love.

 

The first is recognition.

 

The second is timelessness.

 

Third is reunification.

 

Finally, there is a feeling of necessity.

 

 

THE BENEFITS OF ILLUSION

 

The illusion of romantic love is that it blinds us to the negative aspects of our Imago choice.

 

 

LOVE: NATURE’S ANESTHESIA

 

In blinding us to reality, romantic love performs a valuable service.

 

Paradoxically, our beloved is uniquely able to reopen our old wounds.

 

But that person, when responsive to our needs, has what we need to heal.

 

 

THERE’S NO LOVE IN ROMANCE

 

The notion that we love other people for themselves, just as they are, with their peculiar needs and quirks, is an illusion. Romantic love is not at all what it appears to be. We are in love with the projection of our Missing Self, and the expectation of what our beloved can give us through our association with them.

 

The Imago bond creates a spurious wholeness. Our attempt to get through another what is missing in ourselves never works, for personal emptiness cannot be filled by a partner. If that fusion were successful, we would be aborting our own chances to deal with our issues of self-completion.

 

Romantic love is a time bomb; it carries within it the seeds of its own destruction. It is supposed to end. Inevitably, reality rudely shatters our illusion. I hate to say it, but there is no love in romance. Real love is something entirely different—and better—as we’ll see in Chapters 13 and 16. But it only comes to couples who wrestle with their demons and stay the course during the power struggle.

Unmasking the Imago

 

I can’t stress enough that knowledge about your Imago is redemptive information. It has the power to heal you. The Imago is the key to your relationships, and the basis for self-integration. Think of it as a map showing where the buried treasure lies.

 

 

13: Partnership: The Journey to Consciousness

 

Knowing what to expect will prepare you for the challenges you will face. Knowing what to hope for will inspire you to take the journey.

 

A conscious relationship, in which partners call on each other to change those aspects of themselves, and in so doing unleash repressed potential, is in fact the most effective path to psychological and spiritual wholeness.

 

The love that is essential to our healing must come from the Imago match, and a partnership—committed, continuous, consistent—is the process through which we heal and regain our original wholeness and full aliveness.

 

 

The Unconscious Relationship

 

… marriage, like childhood, has a “natural history”: it develops in identifiable stages that parallel those of childhood.

 

The power struggle recapitulates the issues and hard work of the stages of Exploration, Identity, and Competence. If the couple is aware of what’s going on, each partner strives to become an integrated self…

 

If this work is successful and the relationship moves beyond the power struggle, the relationship becomes one in which partners can move on to genuine concern for each other’s welfare and a deep intimacy that evolves into real love…

 

Relationship stages follow a cyclical, not a linear, progress.

 

 

WHEN ROMANCE DIES: THE TRAJECTORY OF THE UNCONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP

 

“It’s supposed to die,”

 

Though romantic love is a foretaste of the potential in the relationship, the potential can only be reached through the valley of despair that is the power struggle.

 

 

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

 

Most marriages stall in the power struggle…

 

… a sure sign that we are with the right person for our maximum potential growth—if we handle it correctly.

 

… without awareness and the skills to transform their relationship, most couples will never move past the issues of Identity and Competence to achieve real love and the joy of wholeness it brings. Consciousness is the key.

 

 

THE DENOUEMENT OF THE POWER STRUGGLE

 

… the power struggle potentially has six predictable phases similar to the stages of grief… shock, denial, anger, bargaining, despair, acceptance. What we are grieving is the loss of the illusion, embedded in the experience of romantic love…

 

… the shock… of imperfections in our partner; then the denial when we try to ignore or rationalize away the negative traits of our partner; then comes the anger when they persist in spite of our efforts to vaporize them.

 

Often the marriage is sustained through the anger by bargaining…

 

… for most couples, bargaining leads to resignation and despair, the fifth stage of the power struggle.

 

… reached the final stage of the power struggle: acceptance. What they have accepted is an unsatisfying but tolerable marriage.

 

At the stage of despair, many other couples leave the marriage and seek real love elsewhere.

 

 

Becoming Conscious: A Turning Point in the Journey

 

In order to reach a stage of real love, our unconscious aim must become our conscious attention. We must enlist our “new” brain … healing our childhood wounds and achieving wholeness.

 

… a lot of work to do to change their unconscious relationship into a conscious one. And first they had to change themselves.

 

One of the most difficult truths about relationships for most couples to accept is that in order to be loved you must first become a lover. You must be willing to grow and change and commit yourself first and foremost to healing your partner.

It is not simply obstinacy that paralyzes marriages—although it often feels like it! It is fear. We are afraid of having our long unmet needs—those needs we learned to deny or disparage—finally satisfied. We are afraid to get in touch with our Lost Selves—the traits we were taught to think were unacceptable. We are afraid to own up to the denied traits we feel are “bad” or unlovable. We resist change because to change means facing our own internalized self-hatred and accepting the responsibility for feeling unlovable. Changing feels dangerous. Our Lost and Denied selves are survival mechanisms; we fear that if we reclaim what was unacceptable we will die. On top of our fear, we are hampered by lack of partnership and intimacy skills.

 

The changes required of us in order to become healing partners for our mates are often the changes that are most difficult for us to make.

 

The paradox is: when we give our partner what he or she needs in order to heal his or her wounds, we have to call upon the parts of ourselves that have been suppressed. In pushing the limits of our habituated behavior to heal our partner, we heal ourselves, for we reactivate our own evolution toward wholeness.

 

 

OWNING OUR PROJECTIONS

 

Our partners are mirrors in which we see reflected those parts of ourselves that we disown.

 

 

COMMITMENT TO HEALING

 

… prerequisites to beginning the process of transforming an unconscious relationship into a conscious one.

 

1. Eliminate the blame and criticism.

 

2. Commit to the relationship and the process.

 

3. Learn new skills and to change negative, unproductive behavior.

 

 

The Conscious Marriage

 

As the unfolding stages of a relationship reflect, first we idealize our partners; then we devalue them and polarize; then we integrate our positive and negative in ourselves and in the relationship into a couplehood that is unique for us; then we develop confidence in managing the process of being married and express our newfound ability in care for others. The result is a transformed relationship that consciously fosters the psychological and spiritual growth of both partners and gives something to the world at large. In the process of this transformation we create and express real love.

 

Unlike romantic love, which is created by childhood needs hidden in romantic yearnings, reality love is based on awareness, respect, and commitment… awareness of ourselves and of our partners, and of the healing purpose of our relationships; respect for our partners’ needs and desires; and commitment to healing our partners through unconditional giving. Such love does not give birth to relationships. It is created in the relationship.

 

Unconditional love—or, more accurately, unconditional giving—has not been in vogue in recent times.

 

… loving your partner unconditionally simply means committing to giving them what he needs without asking for anything in return…

 

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF A CONSCIOUS RELATIONSHIP

 

1. The partners in a conscious relationship recognize that the purpose of their relationship is to heal their childhood wounds.

 

… committed to the process. The basic principle of a conscious relationship is intentionality.

 

2. The partners in a conscious relationship educate each other about their childhood wounds.

 

partners exchange unconditional gifts.

 

3. Partners in a conscious relationship accept each others’ absolute separateness, their unique way of perceiving reality, the sacredness of each other’s inner world; they consider themselves equals.

 

Dialogue is the core of communication.

 

4. The partners in a conscious relationship keep all the energy that belongs in the relationship within its bounds.

 

In a conscious relationship, there are no exits.

 

5. The partners in a conscious relationship communicate their needs and desires to each other in constructive ways.

 

In a conscious relationship there is no criticism.

 

6. The partners in a conscious relationship accept all of each other’s feelings, especially anger. They realize that anger is an expression of pain, and that pain usually has its roots in childhood.

 

7. The partners in a conscious relationship learn to own their negative traits (their Denied Selves) instead of projecting them onto and provoking them in their partners.

 

8. The partners in a conscious relationship develop their own lost strengths and abilities instead of relying on their partners to make up for what is missing or lost in themselves.

 

9. The partners in a conscious relationship develop their own contrasexual energy and encourage the development of their partners’ contrasexual energy.

 

In a conscious relationship each partner strives toward androgyny.

 

10. The partners in a conscious relationship are whole and balanced and in touch with their sense of oneness with the world.

 

In a conscious relationship partners care for others around the world.

 

This is a revolutionary view of marriage: that rather than leaving it to find yourself, you find yourself through it. Marriage itself is in essence therapy, and your partner’s needs chart your path to psychological and spiritual wholeness.

 

 

Part V

 

Becoming a Conscious Single

 

14: From Insight to Integration: Basic Strategies for Change

 

Inflexible mentality remains the biggest stumbling block to change.

--Mikhail Gorbachev

 

In order for change to occur, insight must be translated into action. Whatever is created by experience must be corrected by experience rather than mere analysis. In order to integrate our insights, we have to put ourselves in new situations and learn and practice new behaviors, which, over time and through repetition, actually change our past behavior and beliefs. This section is about that change process.

 

 

START NOW

 

… your deepest wounds will only be reopened in the enforced intimacy of a prolonged relationship.

 

No one else really sees—and will tell you—the truth about yourself…

 

 

WHAT’S THE RUSH?

 

You must learn to tolerate the slow process.

 

Evolution is far more effective than revolution.

 

 

WAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

 

It demands clear intention, sustained attention, and the conscientious day-by-day practice of new skills and unfamiliar, uncomfortable behavior.

 

The needs of the unconscious for wholeness and aliveness are nonnegotiable. The psyche is committed to its own completion.

 

Resistance is natural…

 

Most of us live our lives in a waking sleep, oblivious to our inner lives, doing whatever seems necessary to keep ourselves fed, clothed, and not in pain. But in order to be alive and whole, we must wake up.

 

 

SURRENDERING TO CHANGE

 

The crucial first step is to surrender to the process, to take courage in hand and to commit to self-change.

 

When we stop projecting our negative traits onto others, and own what we’ve denied and rejected, we’ve taken an important step.

 

Without owning the truth about ourselves, without confession, there can be no change… must have remorse if he is to be rehabilitated…

 

Confession is free of guilt or judgment.

 

At-one-ment is the natural outcome of recognizing, accepting, and owning all of ourselves.

 

 

 

SELF-HATRED: THE STUMBLING BLOCK

 

We hate ourselves for having needs that we were told were excessive or inappropriate, and for having traits that were hated by our caretakers.

 

If your self-hatred makes it impossible for you to believe that you are lovable, it is impossible for the love of a partner to heal your wounds.

 

In order to let love in, you must have compassion for yourself.

 

The hatred and repulsion you feel is inside, not outside.

 

Self-hatred is behind all the defenses.

 

learn to love in others (including our partners) the hated parts of ourselves that we project onto them.

 

To love what we hate in others is a form of self-love because the simple-minded old brain accepts the love we give to others as self-love. The wall to love is self-hatred; in order to let love in, the wall must come down.

 

 

THE BENEFITS OF GROUP THERAPY

 

Your therapist will become, over time, a “good” object whom you will see as a parental figure, and onto whom you will project your Denied Self. This is known as transference. Since a good therapist will remain neutral, nonjudgmental, and supportive, no matter what you feel, do, or say, eventually you will discover that the “bad” you and the “bad” object is inside, rather than outside, and you will be able to love the disowned parts of you which the therapist accepts, change the parts of you that do not “fit” the therapist, and come face to face with “all of you.” You will not be able to heal your childhood wounds with your therapist—his or her personality is not an Imago figure for you, so he will not catalyze the deepest layers of your wound—but you will have a good grasp of the project you will take to your future partnership.

 

 

UTILITARIAN DATING

 

… practicing the skills of relationships and the new behaviors you’ve identified as lacking in your repertoire with someone of the opposite sex who you’re not madly in love with and afraid of losing.

 

I made a list of behavior changes I wanted to work on…

 

By changing my behavior, I ended up changing me.

 

… make it a collaborative effort. Tell your date about this book and what you are working on. In so doing, you’ll automatically increase the intimacy of the relationship, and get a coconspirator. That way the growth is mutual.

 

 

WHEN YOU FALL IN LOVE…

 

… no amount of knowledge or change will save you from the struggle with your partner once you are in a relationship. The bubble of romantic love will burst, and you will find yourself locked in a power struggle. But now you know yourself, and know what can be expected to happen. You are prepared for what is coming and you have new coping skills.

 

Let me give you a few guidelines for the early stages of your relationship:

 

1. Be wary of making a commitment to someone who isn’t aware of his or her own self-completion issues, and willing to grow and change.

 

… you can choose to be with someone who wants and values a conscious marriage.

 

… you must assess your prospective mate’s desire and ability to be conscious.

 

2. Apply the knowledge and skills you have learned in every possible situation.

 

For example, now you know that our tendency is to deny or ignore the first signs of our partners’ negative traits until we become angry and disillusioned. Instead of being taken by surprise, and reacting by criticizing or retreating, you will not panic. You will have anticipated your partner’s negative traits, you will know what issues in yourself are being activated, and you will be able to use the Intentional Dialogue process (Chapter 15) to talk with your partner about how to work things out. You will recognize your partner’s projections, and be able to “hold” them until they dissipate.

 

3. Introduce your partner to this book, so that you are both prepared by the time you marry.

 

4. A couple’s ability to communicate and solve problems prior to and early in a marriage is the best predictor of its eventual success.

 

 

“My, How You’ve Changed!”

 

The effects of change are cumulative.

 

What will happen as you make progress is that the energy that is now bound up in your defenses and adaptations, that you expend in protecting yourself from hurt, will start to be available to go back into the universe, into the energetic currents of the world, into eros, and you will naturally and effortlessly attract a healing partner.

 

 

 

15: New Skills, New Behavior: Steps to Self-Integration

 

First, by going back to what you learned about yourself in the earlier exercises, you are going to identify what needs changing. Then you will learn a guided-imagery meditation, which will be of continual use to you as you approach these changes. Next comes a series of exercises aimed at restoring your feelings of aliveness, followed by an exercise for altering your character defenses by changing negative, unproductive behavior. In the last three exercises, you will learn valuable relationship skills: Intentional Dialogue, Holding Projections, and Behavior Change Requests.

 

… you are basically trying to accomplish three things: enliven your inner core, change your character defenses, and learn valuable relationship skills.

 

… you need to make a plan, and a timetable.

 

The secret to your success in the process is your diligence and intentionality.

 

 

Creating a Safe Haven

 

To quiet the old brain you need to learn to create a sense of inner safety. This will require that you practice some mental training such as meditation, relaxation, or guided imagery.

 

Repeated practice of this exercise will foster a sense of safety in both your inner and outer worlds. When your fear abates, you will be more capable of examining and dismantling your character defenses so that your authentic self can emerge.

 

If you practice this exercise daily … you will experience a deepening peace inside you. Guided by your instinctual animal wisdom and the wisdom of your higher nature, you will be better able to make the changes you need to become whole…

 

 

Recovering Your Aliveness

 

The goal is … the free flow of eros, your natural life energy. In doing these exercises, you decrease the rigidity of the defensive structure around your energetic core…

 

These exercises are the most important part of the process of your journey to wholeness as a single. But I caution you that they may well be the hardest part of the work you’ll be asked to do here. Why? As a result of the oppression of eros in childhood, most of us fear our own life energy.

… start this process with an assessment of your Aliveness Quotient, and a look at your aliveness “stimulants.” Following that, you will find a section on “enlivening” activities, after which you will create an “Enlivenment Agenda” which puts together a tailor-made list of activities to enhance your aliveness.

 

 

Enlivening Activities

 

… a list of some things that work directly on your core energy.

 

Simple, frivolous, sensual pleasures make us feel alive, and they are often sorely lacking in our busy, dutiful lives.

 

 

EXPRESS YOUR ANGER

 

Anger is the life force, eros, converted into negative energy.

 

 

EXPRESS YOUR SADNESS

 

All past angers and ungrieved losses will follow you into any relationship. The more you complete any past experience, the less unconscious and archaic emotion will erupt as you search for and begin a relationship.

 

 

My Enlivenment Agenda

 

… if you are a Minimizer, you want to do things that expand your energy and boundaries; if you are a Maximizer, you should move toward containing your energy by holding it in your body and feeling the sensations deeply.

 

 

The Art of Intentional Dialogue

 

Dialogue separates us from other species, which are locked in unwavering old-brain patterns of stimulus/response in the face of danger and conflict. It is a crucial relationship skill. Without it you cannot relate to another person’s internal reality; you only relate to your version of it, which means that you are relating to yourself. Without dialogue, you can count on distortion and the conflict that ensues. With it, any problem can be contained and resolved. Often, when dialogue is used well, the problem or issue dissolves in the process.

 

Dialogue is also a growth process.

 

Intentional Dialogue, therefore, is simply conscious communication, that is, communication that clarifies, confirms, and develops appreciation, respect for, and acceptance of the inner worlds of others. It consists of three parts: Mirroring, Validation, and Empathy. A demonstration follows.

 

Distorted communication is interpretation rather than reflection. Since an interpretation is what you understand or what you think rather than what your partner meant, it often results in conflict and judgment.

 

To validate another person means that you put yourself in his place, behind his eyeballs, and look at the situation from his point of view. It is essentially an act of transcendence.

 

Remember that others are not you. Until that is learned, you cannot relate to others; you can relate only to yourself.

 

There are different levels of empathy. First-level empathy is the communication to another person that you hear and understand his or her feelings and that they make sense. Second-level empathy is a communication that you hear the other’s feelings, that his feelings make sense, and that you are experiencing his emotion inside yourself.

 

It is a deeply healing process.

 

With practice, Intentional Dialogue becomes habitual, and it doesn’t feel stilted… it is merely a form of decency to treat others this way.

 

 

Holding Projections

 

This is the heart of the problem. The way you respond to the projection confirms for the projector that it is true: you give evidence that you really are as s/he claims.

 

The effective—but rarely encountered—response is to hold the projection and not reflect it back to the other person.

 

 

Behavior Change Requests

 

Criticism is the most common reaction to frustration in a relationship, and it is the most destructive, a perverse and counterproductive attempt to get one’s needs met or to correct an uncomfortable situation.

 

There is a simple, highly effective, and easily learned alternative to criticism… identify the desire and express it directly, and then concretize the desire by describing the behavior you want to replace the behavior that you are getting.

 

It is broken down into the feeling connected to the frustration, the fear behind it, the critical form it usually takes, the desire embedded in it, and the desired behavior change.

 

… others’ criticisms of you and your criticisms of them contain valuable information, which if you listen to them and alter your behavior accordingly, will facilitate your progress toward wholeness.

 

 

16: Real Love: Paradise Regained

 

Substance has replaced fluff, surface yields to depth, and transience is replaced by stability.

 

… real love is an achievement of consciousness and intentionality…

 

Romantic love is a preview of the possible.

 

Nature knows it has to lure us with ecstasy—romance—to the portals of transformation. But nature does not leave us with the dregs of disillusionment—failed romance—nor does it have any interest in pain and suffering as our existential condition. These are the by-products of the journey.

 

Conflict, endemic to all intimate relationships, is the alchemical soup that transforms raw emotion and instinct into pure gold.

 

Like romantic love, the power struggle is supposed to end.

 

Those who hang in through the power struggle emerge with real love’s trophy—a passionate friendship. Passion, that chemistry that makes romance so intoxicating, is the most striking feature of real love. The Greeks call that passion eros. It refers to our life force, a pulsating energy that, under conditions of safety, undisturbed by fear, is experienced as a feeling of “full aliveness.”

 

 

SAFETY FIRST

 

The secret to entering this earthly paradise is letting go of fear.

 

… you must cease being an object of fear for your partner and create an environment of safety.

 

To stay calm in the maelstrom of change that attends these trans-instinctual acts requires commitment.

 

Which brings us to another key to opening the doors of paradise: self-integration.

 

NO STRINGS ATTACHED

 

This must be a reciprocal and unconditional gifting if the partners are to become passionate friends.

 

You must do it because it should be done, because your partner needs it.

 

… the guarantee of safety to the other is the best guarantee of one’s own safety.

 

… the care of the other is in our own best interests…

 

You guarantee that your partner is always safe in your presence.

 

 

GOOD INTENTIONS

 

This gift of grace is the fruit of discipline. You cannot create it, but it will come to you if you meet the conditions. The passion that is its character is a result of creating safety for the partner, which is done by meeting the partner’s childhood needs.

 

How long the process takes depends upon the degree of childhood injury and the steady commitment of both partners to the healing process.

 

… when 51 percent of the variables in any system change, the remainder of the system reorganizes itself at a higher level of functioning.

 

The breakdown is a breakthrough.

 

No longer is your partner of value because he or she meets your desires; he or she is desirable because you value him or her.

 

 

NATURE’S GRAND DESIGN

 

Go with the partner choice your unconscious presents—the person you fall in love with.