Relationship Independence

The biggest killer of my past relationships has been my fear of being alone.

I am nearly two years into my current relationship, and this is still something that I have to work on every day. My partner is independent, has his own interests, and is not afraid to trust himself and do the things he needs to do to be who he is. It seems to come easy to him, and yet it is something I struggle with.

When I was single, I got used to doing my own thing, it was a tough journey after two back to back long term relationships, but I got there and it finally felt like home. I was able to meet up with friends, do yoga, read, write, draw, travel and explore, and it felt really good after being codependent for so long.

I then met Joey, who is kind, giving, supportive, encouraging, steady and trustworthy, he makes me laugh and lifts me up and it comes with no effort from his side. I have to work very hard to not let him become the source of my happiness and self-worth, because that is something only I can give to myself. It is really hard work.

We do a great deal together, we windsurf, play tennis, swim, run and ski in the winter, and we have both acknowledged that it is important we do our own thing too. My higher self knows that this is both the right thing to do and is extremely healthy, but my inner child, or ego, whatever you want to call it, starts screaming, fighting and panicking.

“Where have you gone!”, it screams, “don’t abandon me! I am completely lost without you! I won’t survive! How can you choose yourself over me!”, and as I hear this voice, I realise that it is not about Joey at all. Somewhere deep down, my inner child is hurting, and is in need of some comfort.

It’s a wound from my childhood, but it’s so deep and early on that I can’t remember it at all, just the feeling it evokes. I now know that i don’t need to remember the exact moment and cause of the feeling, and that the important thing is that I give the feeling some space, and listen to whatever it has to say. Don’t push it away out of shame or fear, just let it speak and understand it.

Yes, it is unreasonable to expect Joey to come and rescue me, to heal a wound that he had no part in causing, and so it is important to identify when I am beginning to ask too much of him. This is the pivotal moment, the awareness and the realisation that the issue is mine, and not his or ours, and only I can address it.

When I am unaware, I act out and start clinging on to him, saying things like “oh I don’t know what I am going to do with myself” and “what time do you think you will be back”, I talk about when we are next spending time together, and I try to take some control back in a situation where I feel I have none.

He responds to these small cues and will begin to back away from me, which then makes me panic even more, and so I cling even tighter, and so on. Even when this happens, and when I have made a few snarky comments, my higher self taps me on the shoulder and tells me to stop and let him do his thing. Thankfully, I am just about self-assured enough to listen, and stop before I cause more harm.

I remind myself that I was once in his position in a relationship, and ultimately, it drove me away. I was the one who was out enjoying myself, seeing my friends and living an independent life, while he was sat at home stewing and waiting for me, rather than out doing the same as me for himself. I felt suffocated and paranoid, I didn’t feel I could move. I do not want to make another person feel like that.

This thought, and the realisation that of course I am ok on my own, helps me to get back to my centre. I am learning to trust that Joey will come back to me, and that it is important that I use that time to do the things I enjoy too, such as seeing friends, reading, drawing, and yoga. These individual things feed us as people, so that we can come back to each other refreshed and full of love, not empty and in need of replenishing.

My friend sent me this video by Will Smith, about this exact subject, which I feel sums up my point perfectly: