Self-Containment and Neediness in Relationship – Part 13
Hal and Sidra Stone
We are each basically responsible for our own lives and for our own feeling of well-being. It is necessary, in the final analysis, to be the responsible parent to our own inner child. We cannot expect our partners to carry the ultimate responsibility for this child.
One of the fantasies that we all share at some very deep level is that the relationship will care for this child and we will all live “happily ever after.” That is not the way things work in this life.
In addition to the vulnerable child, there is within each of us a very needy child, one who will cling onto our partner with the panic of a drowning person clinging to a potential rescuer. This very act of clinging makes our partner unable to help us, much as it interferes with the ability of the rescuer to perform his function when the swimmer clutches him frantically around the neck.
When you feel this extreme neediness or panic, you can know that you are in a subpersonality that requires your own attention. You may share this information with your partner, your partner may help you talk with this child, but you are the one who must listen to the child, find out what it needs, why it is afraid, and what can be done to help it so that you can take care of it appropriately.
It is important at some time in your process to differentiate between this very needy child and your vulnerable child.
Both can make a relationship more creative and both can effectively destroy a relationship. It depends on whether or not there is an aware ego that can use these energies more consciously.
In relationship, the reaction of your partner will automatically give you information as to which child is operating at any given time. Your partner will usually move in closer when the vulnerable child is present and will behave in a loving fashion. However, when the needy child is present, even if the partner begins by bonding in from the good parent, sooner or later the withdrawn parent will appear and sever all connection.
The lack of self-containment of this needy child makes relating impossible. An aware ego changes this because it knows how to express the needs of the child in a conscious way in order to get what it needs and wants. We each must learn how to express our neediness in relationship with awareness. Otherwise it will sneak out in a million different ways and ensure the development of strong bonding patterns.
When we surrender to the process of relationship, we embark upon ajourney into unknown lands. We learn much about ourselves, the way in which we relate to others, and how we might best move forward in our own process. We learn who we are and how to behave responsibly both in terms of our own selves and toward otherpeople. We learn about how to truly be with another human being and how to truly be with our selves.
We learn how to care for ourselves and how to nurture and protect our inner child in a more conscious fashion.
Self-containment is a necessary element in this kind of relationship. Knowing about our selves, defining our own limits and boundaries, setting our own priorities, adhering to our individual set of values, recognizing our own contribution to a given situation, and being able to differentiate this from another’s are all very important.
We can expect the relationship to enhance our process and to lead us further along in our own evolution of consciousness, but we cannot place this responsibility upon another person. We may help one another, but the person ultimately responsible for our selves is ourself.
Enhancing Relationships – Part 5
Hal and Sidra Stone
Sometimes, we have found an active sexual involvement in a deeply bonded relationship. With the current emphasis upon good sexuality, we have seen a surprising amount of sexuality these days that is the bonded sexuality of responsible parent to needy child.
The responsible parent is not a very sexual self and brings little excitement and depth to the sexual experience. However, a responsible parent knows that sex is important for her child’s well-being, and many a responsible mother has made sure that her husband’s needy son gets his necessary share of sexual satisfaction.
She may even keep an informal calendar in her head, knowing how many days have elapsed since the last sexual interchange. This is usually better than nothing, but it is not too great. Think of having someone make love to you for essentially the same reason that she makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the children.
When this kind of bonded sexuality persists, both partners are usually dissatisfied, but it is difficult for them to figure out what is wrong. They may have frequent sexual contact; they may even both experience orgasm on a regular basis. Nothing seems to be wrong, but still, there is something missing. This is one of the bonding patterns that can be brought to one’s attention, by personal sharing.
Another frequent type of bonded sexuality is the demanding father/compliant daughter. This is the more classical sexual bonding pattern that we have seen in the past. In this, the woman submits to sex because it is demanded of her. She may even enjoy it from time to time, but it does not emerge from her own sexual nature and she is not involved in the same way as she would be if it had.
Since sexual activity is not her responsibility, she never gets to experience the delight of her own desire or the power of her own needs. We are not talking here of the physical coercion to have sexual relations, we are just talking of the daily ordinary bonded pressure from the demanding father in the man. The pressure from the demanding father often comes about because the man disowns his vulnerability and neediness.
He has a physical need that makes him vulnerable and he has an emotional need as well that wants to be wanted. If the woman in his life does not respond to him with her own sexuality, he often feels sexually inadequate and emotionally vulnerable, and as he disowns this, he is quite likely to move into the role of demanding father.
Enhancing Relationships – Part 4
‘Dealing With Negativity In Relationship’
Hal and Sidra Stone
Most of us find that sharing our negative reactions with one another is even more difficult than generalized personal sharing of our process and feelings.
Our vulnerable child is afraid of abandonment, our critic tells us that we are making mountains out of molehills, our pleaser tells us that we have to be nice to people or they will not love us, our nurturing parent tells us that our partner is unable to bear the pain that our negativity will cause, and our protector/controller most probably will warn us that we are risking the relationship.
In addition to all this, we love our partner and, even in an aware ego, we do not want to inflict any pain. Unless we are in our judgmental parent and fully self righteous, most of us will not look forward to this part of a relationship.
But unfortunately, if we bury enough negative reactions, they have a tendency to build up and threaten the relationship. Those negative dragons have a way of growing extra heads very quickly when they are not dealt with appropriately.
There is a point in all relationships when the “falling in love” phase is over and we look at one another more soberly. Small annoyances begin to crop up. We suddenly realize that our partner does not close the kitchen cupboards after opening them or turn off the lights when leaving a room. Clothes are left lying around. Or, conversely, our partner is too neat and demands that we straighten up the house each day. One of us likes the window open, the other likes it closed. In the interest of peace, we withhold our reactions.
At some point, however, we must say something, or all our energy will be spent holding back reactions, and the spontaneity, vitality, and sexuality will disappear from the relationship.
Surprisingly enough, when negative reactions are shared through an aware ego, there is usually less discomfort than most of us might imagine. When we are sharing our reactions through an aware ego, there is no judgment and no blame. This makes it far more likely that our partner will be receptive to what we have to say.
Negative reactions, even negative reactions that are expressed through one of our power selves, are not to be judged. It is simply a question of becoming aware at some point of where they came from.
Learning to spend more time in the aware ego, and to express our negative reactions through the aware ego, becomes one of the working goals of relationship.
In a relationship that involves all of our selves, our partner is usually already aware of these negative reactions at some level. They have been transmitted in non-verbal form, energetically through body language, through our unconscious acts, our slips of the tongue or even through our jokes; therefore, they are rarely a total surprise.
Actually, the denial of these reactions has served to distance us from one another. In most instances talking things out helps to bring us back together with our partner, and, quite frequently, creative solutions can be reached that can deal effectively with many of our irritations.
Negative reactions, when brought through an aware ego, can also break bonding patterns. If both partners are in their aware egos, they are facing facts, and it is quite possible to learn from one another through these negative reactions. For example, there may be times when one or the other partner in a relationship becomes too identified with the perfectionist, too much at the mercy of a critic, too frequently the rescuing parent, or too dominated by the pusher. A clear reaction by the other may help to break the hold of that particular self and allow in something new.
Negative reactions, clearly presented, often signal the time for a change in consciousness. Relationships, when consciously lived, demand a great deal of all of us. When it is time to move on, to try something new, or to give up an old and no longer useful way of being in life, our partner’s negative reaction may well be the catalyst.
Upon close examination, we all find that our intensely judgmental negative reactions to our partners are a reflection of our own disowned selves. You have seen numerous examples of this in previous chapters.
In a relationship that encourages the exploration of these negative reactions, you are therefore quite likely to be brought face to face with your disowned selves. Working with your partner in this way can give you an unparalleled opportunity to find out about these selves and embrace them.
This is another way that you can truly get the most out of relationship. If you do not remain open to the possibility that a negative and judgmental reaction is a sign that a disowned self has been activated within you, then you not only lose an opportunity to continue your own personal growth, but you also may lock into a particularly unpleasant bonding pattern with your partner.
Your partner will then become more and more entrenched in the self that you disown, as you become more and more entrenched in its opposite. You may become more and more responsible as your partner becomes less and less so; you may become more disorganized and your partner more in control. This makes for great comedy, as anyone who has seen The Odd Couple knows, but it is not much fun in a primary relationship.