RELATIONSHIP THERAPY | BYRON BAY, BALLINA, LISMORE, TWEED HEADS
When I see a new couple, I’m not really looking at whether the story they are telling me is true or false. What I am really looking for, is to uncover the true reason behind their thoughts, emotions and feelings towards their partner. I make a commitment to uncover how it may be serving them to see their partner in a certain light. And why it makes total sense for them to need this conflict that is seemingly expressing itself outside of themselves. This is when a healing process is activated. A little internal war begins. Part of them is convinced that they want the healing. Part of them is convinced that if they let go of conflict, that they will also lose themselves. Only when the pain of staying stuck seems bigger than the fear of letting the conflict go, can a genuine shift occur that transforms the situation.
When I was talking to my friend yesterday afternoon in between two Zoom meetings, I found myself saying that I felt a sense of stepping into leadership.
This of course is not a one-time event but rather a process that has been going on throughout my life. What’s new is a sense of realization that this is now ‘my shift’. I can no longer project an idea onto the future about how this will look. It is a total acceptance of being one with what is already here. My readiness does not come from my accomplishments nor from my talents. It comes from my willingness to serve. I am the one both leading and following. It is an internal dynamic within me. I realize that my primary relationship is my own internal relationship with myself. This is really all that it will ever be.
Every person is a teacher. Teachers are needed on all levels. Recognizing what it is that you teach, is a part of knowing who you are. Yet there is a lot of misconception we have in regards to the role of a teacher and the entanglement with the teacher’s ego and sense of separated self. We are teachers not by what we say or do but by who we are. Our response to our life lessons is the way we model what we know to be true. Our modelling evolves as we do. We are all continuously teaching and learning. We serve this purpose whether we are conscious of it or not.
What is it that I am truly teaching? I know that my lesson at present is around making judgements. Every time I look at my partner, I can see it so clearly. Am I willing to let go of that? I whisper these questions quietly as they are admissions of my own shortcomings. But what is it that I teach as a relationship counsellor? Shouldn’t I be practicing my own sweet advice?
Life – long – love relationships give us time. They provide us with a life time to exercise ourselves and to act out different parts of ourselves in various stages of inner growth. They give us a platform on which to dance and provide us with a mirror in which to reflect upon ourselves.
These days, I have been reckoning with my sadness often. A headache that lingered for over four days kept on pulling me back into the chambers of my pain, my loss, my fear. This morning when I looked out the window and saw the range of greenery surrounding me and I heard the birds singing so sharply, I felt that for now, I’m out of the woods. I’d been constantly worrying about things like how a simple instruction like washing your hands with soap and water would translate itself in places where there was no running water. I’d found myself ruminating on how staying at home might translate itself to those who have no home, or to those that have to go out daily to find food. I’d been ruminating with thoughts around women and children who may be trapped in the hell of domestic violence and abuse and the loneliness that triggers some people to suicide.
While I was in Athens, my husband had to return to Australia unexpectedly, a week before me. I was almost ashamed at the level of joy I experienced just by having the space apart from him. My daughter suddenly became ill, meaning that she was unable to travel, hence I was unable to accompany my husband and son home. We had been traveling for 5 weeks together. Deep down, I was probably desperately craving time apart from my husband after such an intense time of travelling together. But if I dig deeper to understand this phenomenon, there may be more to it.
“I feel as if COVID-19 sent me back to the ’50s into the traditional gender roles I never signed up for. I feel resentful, angry, suffocated and defeated. It’s making me bitter”, my client said.
She was the third client this week, who expressed this fury. It forced me to ask some questions. Is the stress and uncertainty making us regress in our coupledom to a ‘survival’ mode? Are we now being forced to ignore hard-earned progress in the area of equality and the distribution of labour?
I believe that each and every one of us is meant to find the sweet spot where being appreciated and being connected meet. This is true to all relationships, not only between people but between countries as well. The 21st century paradigm shift has to be from ME to US. I believe that the confusion lies with the fear that US requires self-destruction and that shifting to US means enmeshment and loss of self. The truth is that we can only reach a sense of US if we have a differentiated self. Once we reach differentiation, I believe that we are meant to extend it towards connection. This is the extreme sport of living in these times. There is no way to avoid it or go around it. Each one of us needs to figure this one out as individuals and as a collective.
Reading through one couple’s intake forms, I found myself wondering why they wanted to book in to see me. She had rated the relationship 8 out of 10 and stated that she had been sad for two weeks. However, when I reached the part in the intake form, where she spoke about what she would like to accomplish in our sessions, I realized that she had diagnosed a cancer in her relationship at such an early stage, that it is still relatively easy to cure. If she were to wait for it to grow and progress to a more advanced stage, she would need much more intense interventions. She was being the canary in the mine shaft. Trying to inform the system that something is wrong. The problem she was facing could have easily been dismissed at this early stage. Many would make excuses – the problem only exists in your mind, it’s not that bad, it’s normal, it’s your issue.
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