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Posts Tagged ‘security’

Separate Self Versus Symbiotic Self!

November 10, 2010 2 comments

I’m trying to throw things out – I’ve collected thousands of pages of my writing over the years. Can’t I just junk it?

Well, I’m trying, but a page stared back at me from the garbage pile – over a decade old. I had written it right after my marital partner (best friend, lover, soul mate) of 18 years suddenly, and without warning, up and left me for another woman.

In the midst of emotional torment so intense I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get through it, I wrote a prose-poem about the struggle between my symbiotic self and separate self.

I felt as if he had flayed my heart, or at least severed the aorta. While it seemed that I was bleeding to death of heartbreak, I realized, somehow, that I was an adult who could stand on my own two feet even under such dire circumstances.

My symbiotic self was shattered, but my separate self somehow sent out a peace signal.

The separate self was a part of me that hadn’t had a chance (or need) to assert itself in over 18 years (because I was too busy enjoying coupled bliss). Newly emerging, this part of me was a real contrast to my symbiotic self – and a real life savor.

The separate self can survive on its own. It doesn’t need to have someone in its corner, someone to belong to, someone to return to at the end of the day.

In short, the separate self can survive without a background object. It might not like to, but it can, and if it must, it will do so with grace.

Losing your background object (the person from whom you gain a sense of security even when you’re not conscious of it) can lead to an unbelievably strong emotional crisis – something that feels worse than a nervous breakdown! Mine was so ferocious that I couldn’t believe that my lungs continued to suck in oxygen.

But when I got in touch with my separate self, I immediately knew where I had to place my focus. I recognized my separate self as my highest adult self. This was the self which I set out to nurture, build, discover, embrace, and appreciate.

In contrast, my symbiotic self continued searching for the missing piece, looking for daddy, yearning for its other half. My separate self, a whole person by itself, kept asserting itself, keeping me focused, saving the day.

At the time of my abandonment, my symbiotic self had filled up its missing half with the idea, the fantasy, the belief that someone was there—that I was loved and found and kept – a belief that proved to be an illusion. What I learned was that the symbiotic self held many such illusions – just waiting to be shattered.

I realized that my newly discovered separate self had to develop the idea of…I wasn’t sure what.. of its own two feet, its ability to give to itself in the moment.

Both selves operated within me and continue to do so, only now, I have learned a lesson, which is, to continuously and diligently celebrate my separate self.

The separate self (in me, in you) doesn’t desperately seek its other half. It says centered in the moment, looking to bring a full sense of life through its own senses, the sounds of life, the sights, the smells, the feelings, the sensations – all of them under its own power and control.

So, I threw out at least 1000 old papers, but I kept this one – because I’m still working on it.

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The Push/Pull in Relationships

August 3, 2010 1 comment

I’ve had several people write to me about the push/pull dynamics in their love relationships.

I’ve experienced this dynamic myself. I can remember in an early relationship, I wanted more from my boyfriend. We were in college and other women were interested in him, and he had not made me feel as if “he only had eyes for me.” I wasn’t sure that he was the committed type who could ignore other possibilities. So the stronger I felt about him, the less I trusted him. It wasn’t him, it was me.

I knew that if I acted too needy, that would be the kiss of death – so I acted the opposite. The more madly in love with him I felt, the more I tried to play “hard-to-get.”

To this day, I think he read right through it. But we certainly never could get the relationship to the “safety zone.” I was too busy playing games and feeling needy and desperate for a love-fix from him.

When someone withholds what we want from them – love, sex, affection (or if we perceive a possible threat to their love for us), it increases our neediness for them.

When we feel secure and all or most of our needs are reasonably met, we are generally able to function quite independently – as long as we know that our loved one is feeling pretty much the same way about us as we feel about them. That there is a mutual pull toward each other.

Under these secure conditions, we don’t have to be reassured every five minutes. We can go about our independent business – get together with other friends, take care of personal business – confidently knowing that they are there for us somewhere in the background. We feel empowered by this sense of security.

When we feel secure like this, our loved one becomes our “background object.” It is at this point that it is easy for us to take them for granted. But if we know anything about the creative process of love, we will not let this happen, and we will nourish this relationship with loving deeds and intimate moments – to keep the relationship alive and thriving.

But when the person we love doesn’t seem to (or we perceive it that way) want us as much as we want them, we lose that sense of security and our needs for reassurance for them intensify. This is when push/pull dynamics set in.

What to do? Recognize that push/pull never works, it only intensifies unequal positions on both ends. Instead pursue mutuality. Remain symmetrical with the other person. Or if we are truly being neglected, we need to get out so that we can find someone else to have a mutual relationship with.