How can something so important be so hard? Why are we surrounded by angry couples, estranged siblings, bitter parents, and superficial friendships?
Because we do not know who we are. How can we interact with another human if we do not know what we like and what we need? What we dislike? No wonder we all prefer relationships with our pets. They fulfill our most basic need that we can all recognize, Acceptance. No, it’s not love. Acceptance comes way before love. You can certainly love someone, but this does not mean you accept him. Our pets accept us. They do not get angry at us when we are not in the mood to play with them or if we forget to walk them or even if we leave them alone for a whole day. We come back and there they are waiting for us at the door with a smile. This is acceptance.
Imagine if your partner forgot to come home because he overslept at a friend’s house? Would you welcome him with a smile? Or will he have a bunch of angry messages on his phone way before he arrives home? I think the second. We crave for our people to accept us with our strengths and weaknesses, but we struggle to accept our own and theirs too.
How can they accept us if we have not accepted ourselves? And how can we even accept ourselves if we do not know ourselves?
Let us look at an example, A young couple lives together, and they spend most of the day together because they both work from home. The wife is always angry, annoyed, and irritated. She blames him for being around and for snoring. The husband has no real idea what is happening, but he also feels a bit overwhelmed.
How can the husband know that his wife needs time on her own every single day to decompress? How can he know that she hates it when he starts talking to her in the morning, how can he know that she would like to sleep alone some nights to regain her energy? How can he know all of that if all he sees is an angry woman? Well because this angry woman behaves like a child. A child when it's young expects their parents to guess what he is feeling so they can mirror him, and he can know as well. This is what so many women and men are even doing in adulthood. I have heard my partner tell me, but how did you know not that this made me feel bad?
How can I seriously know and why is it my job to know? I used to feel the same way. I remember I was furious with my partners for not taking me out once a week on a romantic date, or that they talked all day and I had no moment of silence, even that they did not offer to help me when I needed help. All those requests and needs where a scenario played in my head. No one else had access to it except me. How can they know? They cannot guess.
The problem is that we were raised trying to guess our parents’ feelings and thoughts because they did not share them. At least I know I did. Emotions and feelings are such a new discovery that I literally feel they skipped our previous generations. (I am 37)
We played the guessing games the wrong way though. We were trying to guess what our parents felt so that we can please them or make them pay attention to us or just hear some loving words. Instead, they were supposed to mirror us so we can figure out what is it that we feel and what is it that we want.
Let’s say the wife told the husband:
‘’My love, this is nothing personal, but I really need some space inside the relationship for myself. I like to wake up in the morning and stay with my thoughts for a few hours before I can interact or respond to anyone. Furthermore, I know you snore when you are tired but my sleep is important for my physical but also mental health so I would appreciate if I would sleep in the other room some nights. Thanks.’’
Hmm, interesting paragraph. What are the requirements for this woman to be able to write this paragraph? To know herself.
Well, this woman is me. In all my relationships I felt like I had to escape, and a part of me still does. I did not feel accepted and my need for freedom and space was not welcomed. It was judged. But did I ever express it this way? Barely. I used to shout, cry, and expect my partner to figure out what I need. When he did not, I would simply run away. Like a criminal that needs to escape from his sentence. Because this is what relationships are without acceptance. They are a jail.
A jail between two people who cannot keep their boundaries because the distance between them is so small inside the cage (hypothetical cage), two people who expect each other to be perfect and get disappointed when any of them isn’t, two people who have barely accepted themselves.
The truth is if you go to an ice cream shop and just stare at the sales guy, will he guess that you want strawberry or will he give you whatever flavor he thinks you will like, probably his own favorite. He will give you vanilla, and then what? Will you eat it or throw it in his head? Well, you should not do any of the two. I know we spoke about clairvoyants in the previous article, but I doubt they can really guess what you need.
I remember many times my therapist asked me what are your needs. Well, here is a million dollars question. I have no clue. I am starting to know them now. One by one. It is really taking me a lot of time though and not only because I cannot recognize them, but mainly because I cannot even accept them.
Let’s take the example of freedom, I know I have this need because it is so strong in me, but do I accept it? No. I feel guilty and bad whenever I fulfill it. When I calmly take time away from my family or partner to enjoy my freedom, regrets and questions, and fears take over my body. Why? Because I am not accepting myself. My dog else does not mind when I travel for 2 weeks and I leave her with my housekeeper, why would my family and partner?
Because pets have something beautiful to teach us, acceptance if given wholly creates the most powerful bonds. When we allow ourselves to be who we really are we can allow others to be who they are. This is love, the rest is prison. Sometimes I wonder if the term relationship is changing so much before it finds its own new definition.
Before there was: we meet, we get married, we have kids, and we stay together forever.
But what about now? How can two people who are so different and who each of them keeps growing to stay together forever? They can, only if they treat each other as an individual and not as a continuation of their own. Why would my partner want to go to the beach and learn how to ski if he hates the sun? Why should I go to a mountain wedding with him if I hate the cold? And what if they do not stay together forever? Is the love really lost?
No, it is moved in a new way in a new relationship. We can stay partners and not live together, who says we cannot? Who made the rules of the partnerships that we are all following? Isn’t better if we all make our own rules according to the way each of us is designed?
To do this we each have to continue to search for the answer to the most important question, who am I? Once we can answer this question, we can start building relationships that give us freedom instead of relationships that feel like jail.
The more people work on finding out who they are the more it will be the beginning of the new kind of partnership, the free to be yourself partnership.