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:

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Learn To Let Life Unfold

Meditating by the sea

Life seems to have this ability to give you exactly what you need at the right time, if you are able to stop trying to control things, and just let life unfold. I am learning this on a daily basis, and have been since I arrived in New Zealand nearly five months ago. It’s the reason I came out here; to experience life at it’s most raw, basic and invigorating.

I wanted to strip myself of all the comforts of my home life, such as my family, friends, job, home and culture, and whilst I haven’t quite had the courage to go to a country where I don’t speak the language, this has still been a test of my courage and will power.

Since I arrived, I have met people from all walks of life, and watched how I interacted with these people, trying to observe the feelings, thoughts and emotions that came up for me. The thing I noticed the most was my inability to hold on to myself when in the presence of certain people; I always knew that I was a chameleon, I just didn’t realise sometimes it can be to my detriment.

Having come to a new country, where I knew no one and only had my belongings with me, I had no choice but to get out of my introverted shell and talk to people. Unfortunately, my insecurity and need for connection overwhelmed my voice of sanity, and I wound up clinging on to people who were not the best for me, and fit in with my codependency patterns.

Old Habits Die Hard

I was pretty shocked and disappointed in myself that I allowed this to happen, and saddened that once again, I could not help these people find peace. I cut the ties and moved on, with more ease than I expected, and began to place the fear to one side while I cleared some space in my mind for my inner voice to be heard.

I physically had to remind myself why I came here by standing in front of the mirror and telling myself that I would be ok, that I came out here to explore the world and allow life to just take over for a change. I saw myself cling to people, situations and things, and each time I had to remind myself that I didn’t need any of them, that I had all I needed – me.

It’s upsetting to start fresh somewhere and realise that the things you thought were the faults of others are actually the result of your own self-sabotaging actions. It’s also the place where the most reflection and personal growth can occur, and the place where life can become the most breathtaking.

Change Starts With You

I am learning to take a long look in the mirror when I feel myself reacting to others, because really, if you are in a good and stable place in your own life, the actions and words of others can’t really affect you. That is something that I carry around with me every day, and ask myself constantly; “what is this bringing up for you?”.

There are a number of people at my job and in my social life that I really struggle to find a connection with, and yet these people are drawn to me and I to them for some unknown reason. I find myself wanting to understand them, to find a way into their world and to help them find the freedom and happiness that I am finding, but I can’t find a way.

I then come up against an internal wall, and that age-old message of ‘you’re no good’, which stems from the inability to help my mum while I was growing up, rears it’s ugly head. I feel like a failure, this innate belief that my sole purpose in life is to make this person reach their full potential…but I can’t do it, and this therefore means that I am no good.

It’s such a detrimental message, and one that I find creeps up on me like a ninja, sending me subliminal messages about my incompetency as a human being. Before I know it, I am the biggest pile of crap that walks the earth, and I hate the very people that I wanted to help because they have made me feel this way.

The hard truth is that I am just not that powerful or important, and their problems are not mine to fix. I need to put that abundance of energy into myself and cultivate the healthy and nourishing relationships in my life, rather than finding my worth in the success of ‘fixing’ the lives of others.

It seems silly that I have had to come halfway across the world to find this out about myself, but it’s been one of the most useful exercises I have experienced as it has shown me how deeply embedded these habits and beliefs are. I am seeing my pattern of behaviour in all it’s glory, but the amazing thing is that I have the choice to change it, which so many other people do not have.

Be Kind To Yourself

I therefore remind myself that this pattern is going to keep on recurring, and that I must not make things worse by judging myself for falling into it each time. Instead I must simply be aware, and just observe my corresponding thoughts and feelings when I do finally notice it. I have to stop trying to control everything and just allow life to unfold.

It’s tough catching those fleeting thoughts and feelings that arise during interactions with others, and it’s impossible to stay on top of them all at once, so I just have to be patient and trust that it will get easier as time goes on. These people with their problems are not mine to fix, and I know first hand how excruciatingly difficult it is to acknowledge ones own problems, let alone try to resolve them.

This leaves me with a constant conundrum of how I should fill my time, where I should focus my energy and whether or not I need to realign my direction in life. This should of course be an exciting venture, and it is when I feel good, but when I am in the place of anxious uncertainty, it looms over me like a demon telling me I am wasting my life.

Keeping myself on the path of authenticity is no easy feat, but it is without a doubt 100% worth it. While I have been out here, I have found a job which allows me the space to learn and create, a partner who cares deeply for me and our relationship, and have lived my dream of skiing nearly every weekend since I arrived.

My natural habit is one of high alert, constantly looking for the next problem to be fixed, because that is how I have grown up. However, I have been fortunate enough to realise that these behaviours are a product of my environment, and not necessarily who I am. I have sifted through the myriad of learned behaviours and found myself again, so much so that I am able to see when I am being unreasonable and creating a problem to be fixed where none existed in the first place.

Be In The Now

Self-sabotaging is extremely detrimental, and something that I was acutely aware of when I came out here. This is my daily battle to stop trying to control everything, to look for problems where none exist, and to remind myself that life is happening right now, so none of the things I fear are actually happening at all! Life is unfolding as I spend my entire time preoccupied with what could happen, rather than what is happening.

The sadness I feel when I realise how much of my life has been spent like this is overwhelming, but I also feel total and utter joy at the realisation that there is another way to live; fully, authentically and in the present moment. These moments of clarity are when I am able to stop focusing on my fears, preoccupied with the past and future, and enjoy the present moment as I allow life to unfold in front of me.

It’s a vulnerable place to reside, but I have discovered that once you allow yourself to be vulnerable, life provides you with everything that you need, just when you need it.