Issue 98 –
Where Has Love Gone: Part 3
Being “Strong” in Relationship
Hal & Sidra Stone
Ed and Clara were at the same party that Bea and Al attended. Ed has also been flirting, though not to the extent of Al in our previous example. Clara is committed to expressing her feelings, and she lets Ed know when they get homethat she is angry with him and that she is not going to “take any of this kind of crap” and that “two can play this game as well as one.”
Ed has a difficult time standing up for his sexuality. He generally acts in the world as though sexuality does not exist in him except for his marriage partner. He also is very intimidated by Clara’s anger. She has had a considerable amount of therapy and has learned how to express her feelings very well. He immediately falls into the guilty/ victim son to her attacking mother.
Why might her reactions be called attacking mother rather than just the clearly stated reactions of a woman who is unhappy with her husband’s behavior? This is a very important question, and there is no simple answer. Here we must rely on the quality of the reaction.
There is a sound, an energy, a vibration, a feeling that one begins to tune into that makes it relatively clear as to what part of the person is expressing the reaction.
One thing to keep in mind is that from the level of awareness and the aware ego, there is no need to dominate and control anyone. Reactions that come from an aware ego do not have hooks in them. They are not meant to hurt or control people.
Reactions that come from the bonding spaces of the parental voices do just the opposite. They always operate in relationship to a dominance/submission pattern. They always have the effect of controlling the environment.
Invariably one finds that if one person falls into a bonding pattern, the other person is in the complementary pattern. In this situation, if Ed falls into the guilty son, then it is a clear indication that Clara has identified with the negative mother or the revengeful mother.
The ability to react in relationship is very important, something that all of us must eventually learn how to do. As important as it is to learn how to have access to one’s emotional reactions, Clara and Ed provide a clear example that it is too simplistic to state as a rule of thumb that one should always express one’s emotions.
Clara had learned how to express her feelings very well indeed ; the problem was that she never learned how to express her vulnerability. Her constant reactions came from a powerful parent within her and they masked the underlying vulnerability that lived in her.
“Being strong” had become her primary self and she had learned how to be powerful. She had not as yet become empowered. This next step can happen only when her awareness level separates from the power side, and only then does she have the chance to embrace bothpower and vulnerability. The effect of her reaction on Ed would be totally different under these circumstances and would lead to a totally different kind of discussion between them.
We are describing here a very sophisticated understanding of personal relationship. It is because of these bonding patterns that we find it very difficult to give advice to people about what they should do or say in their personal interactions. There are people who are constantly reacting in their relationships. They share everything and yet their relationships do not work.
The issue is not what is shared but who shares it ! What part is giving the reaction?
A reaction that channels through a negative mother will polarize the partner into a frightened, guilty, or rebellious son. A reaction given through a guilty son will activate the negative mother in some form.
Where does it all begin? What self cues off the other self in the partner? It is generally quite difficult to discover how it all begins. It is an interaction that goes on over time, and each of us discovers it at a certain moment.
During the course of our own personal relationship, we have tended to stop worrying about causality. Instead, when we become aware of a bonding pattern, we simply take it where it is and examine it as best we can. There is a certain amount of blaming and righteousness that is natural in these bonding patterns.
Over time, however, we tend to spend less time blaming, since it only delays separating from the bonding pattern itself. The righteousness that we feel must also be honored, however, as long as it needs to be present. It is a basic companion of the judgmental parent states, so when it is relentlessly present we might just as well accept it and enjoy it.