Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Relationship Dance: I'm ok. You're ok.

A question I get every time I give my presentation, Victor not Victim, A woman's journey away from abuse, is "Do you have a man in your life?" The long and short answer is, No. Not because I don't want a relationship. Mostly because I haven't met anyone to date. It's not that I haven't tried. Last December I tread into the relationship waters and tested the temperature. It was good to discover that, Yup. The water's still there and I'm still okay.

Relationship is a messy issue for me. I have a tape that runs somewhere in my monkey mind that goes like this. "You can't exist without a man. Yes I can. No you can't." "You need a man to take care of you. No I don't. Yes you do."

Most of my life I've been in relationship. Not necessarily healthy or pretty ones. But I've always been on the alert for 'a man.' Even when in relationship, I worried I'd be left alone and secretly kept my eye out for who was there, just in case.

Needless to say, relationship has been huge for me. The man I dated earlier this year told me, "You have relationship issues." Hello? Tell me something I don't know. We all have relationship issues. It's why there are so many divorces, so many break-ups and break-downs. It's also why I'm in relationship -- to work through my relationship issues (I can't do that alone) and grow, hopefully together, not apart.

I do not come with a Good Relationship Gold Seal of Approval. I come with a Messy Human Learning The Ropes certificate. I'm a country and western song looking for release! I've got Good Values, a Kind Heart and a Willing Mind Open to Understanding what Relationship Means. I don't wanna get hog tied, tied down, tied up or even tie one on. I wanna get real close, close in, close up and personal to the one I love. I don't wanna be a distant memory, a distant cousin or a distant destination on memory's lane of love lost, love forgotten, love gone wrong. I wanna be part of lovin' someone back who loves me behind my back and to my face. I wanna love someone who loves me and has my back in times of trouble, in times of sorrow, in time with my footsteps beating a path to his back door! I wanna be let in, let go, let loose, held up, but not held out to freeze in the blast of Arctic air blowin' in through my back door left open when he walked out. I wanna be me!

Okay, so that was fun!

And that is what it's all about. Fun. Enjoyment. Getting to know someone through the gift of laughter and good times shared. I want to be in relationship coming from my strengths. Knowing I am being the best me I can be. I want to build a solid foundation of harmony that can bear the weight of discords that erupt upon the road of life when two people walk side by side on parallel paths that have equal value. Weighing a relationship down with my angst right from the get go does not give the union an opportunity to form a connection based on mutual respect, honesty, trust, appreciation. It undermines what I believe to be the purpose of relationship - two people committed to exploring the world they share and willing to support each other with love, truth and honesty in their separate worlds so that each can be the awesome human beings they are meant to be.

The most common questions I have heard from women and men coming out of relationship focus on the next relationship. They ask, How will I trust someone enough to be in relationship again? How will I love again? Who will I love again? Often, the new relationship is knocking on their front door moments after the last one has just left.

For me, when I came out of the darkness of that relationship, I knew I was not well enough to become involved with someone else. I had to learn to trust myself, trust my boundaries, my belief in me before I could trust someone else. I knew I had to give myself a year's 'relationship sobriety' to find my footing on my path before trying to step in time with someone else. That year stretched into 4 as I grew and learned how deep the wounds were that needed healing.

Regardless of the abuse of the last relationship, regardless of what he did, I entered that relationship unclear of who I was, what I wanted. I did not have clarity to my values, principles, beliefs. And because I was vulnerable to being pulled into someone else's assertion they knew my truth, I lost my way in his lies.
The gift of time to meet myself inside out has been a wonderful opportunity to find myself. To understand my values, principles, beliefs. It's been an enormous opportunity to clarify fuzzy thinking around, Who am I and what do I want?

In the past, I thought those answers could only come in someone else's arms. Today I know the truth, the answers are within me. They are mine to love and to hold 'til death do us part. To embrace and to celebrate. No one else can give me my truth. And no one else can take it from me, unless I let them. And when I do that, I am at risk of losing the most important relationship in my life. The one I have with me.

When I stepped into the relational dance late last year I wasn't sure of the outcome -- who is? Relationship is a journey from one date to the next until such time as one or both of the daters feel a next date is not appropriate. They then are both free to make the right choice for them. What I did know when I first started into that relationship was that I would be okay, with or without a man in my life. That is huge growth for me! It is an awesome gift. I am okay, exactly the way I am!

For anyone searching for meaning in someone else's arms, pull back your arms, wrap them around yourself and embrace the one you love. In love with yourself, loving another is filled with grace and ease. Give yourself the gift of finding yourself beneath the turmoil of passing through another's life without clarity. Give yourself the gift of the beauty of you and fall in love with the most awesome, amazing, magnificent person any of us will ever meet. Me. Myself and I!

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