Keeping the Love

While cleaning out my room looking for my passport the other day, I came upon this book I had read a few years ago. It is on my book list as one of my “essential” books, a book that changed my thinking about relationships and introduced me fully to psychology as I understand it today. I remember buying everyone I cared about this book after I read it. Almost no one I know tried to read it though!

A valuable thing about this book is worksheets that help you process your thoughts about relationships. Re-reading my “deepest fears” section gave me chills. It was while I was hotly 3 or 4 years into my last 9-year relationship. I listed my deepest fears as: Abandonment, Anger, and Not Being Good Enough.

The thing this book talks about is the fact that we are attracted precisely to individuals that have the SAME relationship hurdles we do, yet they tend to react to those fears in the exact OPPOSITE way we do. So true! I remember after learning this that I felt like I was in my last relationship for a reason…presumably to work out those fears on a deep level.

For the most part, I actually was able to work out the Anger fear issue with my ex. I would repress my anger and he would wear it on his sleeve (a super Scorpio!). I remember being deathly afraid that when I made him really angry that he would hit me (something I experienced as a youth). And yet he NEVER did, not once. However, he would get REALLY angry and it would terrify me. I was able to talk through this issue with him after a couple nervous breakdowns and his anger did not bother me much in the same way after that (however, I probably developed a different coping skill for dealing with the anger, like detaching or distancing, and avoiding making him angry).

Our deep commitment to each other (which lasted 9 years) helped me work on my abandonment and not-being-good-enough fears, however, the healing process in those areas was slightly warped as well! I “dealt” with abandonment issues though rapid, rigid commitment and not thinking or doing anything to disturb that commitment situation. I was fiercely loyal and yet was untrusted in return. That was really dysfunctional and hurtful for the most part of many years. I also felt abandoned in bed! No cuddling, lots of space between us, his leaving the bed during times of intimacy all brought up feelings of abandonment, crazy right?

As for the not being good enough fears, I had found a man who considered himself not good enough for me(!), and would tell me constantly how in love with me and how in awe of me he was and how lucky he was to have me. Compliments about my rear end were daily discussion! This was like a bandaid for my deeper fear, a total validation that in fact, I was good enough for someone, in fact too good! I likened him to a female or an anorexic mindset, always concerned about his distorted body image (he had a near-perfect body) and losing those last 5 pounds. In fact, the first thing of substance he said about himself after a silent 8 months breakup was that he had finally lost those 5 pounds. I was too sad about that to respond.

Humans (me included) can be so pathetic sometimes! I don’t mean that as a jab, it’s just that our brains are really full of stuff that doesn’t help us. We have so many fears that served us once and now they just weigh us down. I really hope my next relationships help me to work out my fears in a more complete way. Apparently it takes a lifetime to really settle deeply back into the loving, connected being of light that is your birthright and womb remembrance.

The book also talks about the different developmental stages of childhood and what you are supposed to “learn” in each stage. Everyone is deeply wounded in at least one stage. I think mine is the ages 7-13 years stage of Caring/Sympathizing/Concern for Others. I remember being 7 years old and singing along with tears to this children’s song on the radio, thinking about my father and his busy work life: “…and I’m only 7 years old. Waiting all day for you to come home, but I guess you’d rather be alone. I’ll put my dollies away, ‘cuz I guess you don’t want to play. Waiting all day for you to come home, but I guess you’d rather be alone…”

Later, until, and after I was 13, my father would have to go to different states to find work. He would be gone for 2 weeks then appear at the house for a weekend. I suppose my mother felt some abandonment about this that rubbed off on us kids. This affected me well into college and into my relationship with my coach, who was often busy coaching other athletes and would only appear occasionally to give advice, which I did not receive well, given my parallel feelings of abandonment.

Anyway, I’m working through this book again, and I hope to find some more nuggets, now that I’m “single,” that will help me to heal better through my future relationship commitments. Onward, to freedom and bliss!