“To love is to experience, pain and pleasure, gain and loss, at every second…and, be grateful for it.” – King Ayles, author
“Holly had another side…a vulnerable, soft side.”
Holly was a young, assertive, almost arrogant, woman who had trained a nurse. She had a manner of someone who commanded respect, and expected to be listened to, and obeyed. She lived in a small town and was now director of the regional hospital which she supervised with an iron fist. Apparently, even the doctors feared her.
But, Holly had another side…a vulnerable, soft side. Holly wanted to be loved. She had been married to Carl for three years, a man who owned his own construction company. Carl built customized houses for people with the money to build the best. Carl did well, with his quality work and solid reputation. He was a very focused person, who loved his work, and spent many hours at it.
Having gleaned this information from our initial conversation, I asked Holly, how I could serve her.
She replied, “How do you make someone love you?”
“Who do you want to love you, Holly, that doesn’t?” I asked.
“My husband, Carl! He loves his work, more than he does me! He even loves our dog more than me!”
“…like expecting a prince to slay your dragon!”
“What would Carl have to do to prove his love for you, Holly?” I asked.
“That’s simple…every woman knows what that is…love is putting me first, putting me before his work, before the dog…putting me, before everything else!”
“Holly, that’s not love…that’s support without challenge…that’s infatuation…that’s fantasy…that’s like a Disney movie!”
Holly was taken aback…she stared at me in disbelief for a second, and then got angry. Her face flushed, she pulled her shoulders back, and stuck out her chest and said, “If I can’t have my husband love me the way I expect, then….then, I don’t want him in my life!”
“Holly, it sounds like you want…what you want! Your challenge is whatever you want will always be within the natural systems in which you live. So, the love you want from Carl will always be half support and half challenge…it’s nature’s way! To expect otherwise, such as more support than challenge, is to expect the impossible…to live in a fantasy world of fairy tales…like expecting your prince to slay your dragon!”
“Holly, with respect, it sounds like you haven’t been loving Carl!”
“Ken, I’m a very realistic and reasonable person! I don’t expect the impossible! I expect to be loved for who I am! I deserved to be loved for who I am! Don’t I?” she said hesitantly, her anger disappearing as fast as it had erupted.
“Holly, with respect, it sounds like you haven’t been loving Carl! You have been infatuating him as a sort of saviour who was going to protect you from the challenges in your life…take away all your pain, and give you only pleasure!
“Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” – Khalil Gibran, poet
She got very quiet for a few moments, looked by me…I suspect, deep into her past, then she said.
“Ken, it is interesting you mention Disney…I have been to Disney World twice! And, I went to the one in France, as well. There is a truth to what you said…I do look for pleasure in my life, without any pain. I guess it goes back to running away from my childhood pain!”
“Holly, we are all biologically designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain to focus our learning and so our survival…there is no shame in that, at all! But to seek one without the other, to seek pleasure without equal pain in some form, is to deny our awareness, and slow down our learning, dramatically!”
“But how does that work, in the day to day stuff of life…?”
“Ken, are you saying in my relationship with Carl…if I’m smart, I will expect both pleasure and pain, equally?”
“Yes, Holly!….Because it will ensure your evolution, his evolution and your relationship’s evolution!”
“But how does that work, in the day to day stuff of life, inside our relationship?
“Would you give me one example of your toughest challenge with Carl?”
“That’s easy…he works at least 12 hours a day, six days a week…and I’m alone, by myself a lot…I get really lonely at times!” she said, her eyes moistening.
“Let’s get more specific! Tell me the worst experience in your relationship where this occurred!” I said.
“That’s why I’m here! It was just last week. He texted me saying he wouldn’t be home for supper…there was a late delivery of some rafters he had to wait for…he wouldn’t be home until after 8 PM.”
“Holly, at that second, what did you do?”
“… that’s exactly how I felt…all of those, but especially, abandoned!”
“I was pissed off and I texted him back, and told him so! Then I called my closest friend, and we went to that new movie everyone is raving about…I forget its name now!”
“So, Holly, you know the pain of that moment…the disappointment, the hurt…feeling unimportant, ignored…even abandoned, perhaps?”
“Ken, that’s exactly how I felt…all of those, but especially, abandoned!” she said, her tears reappearing.
“Holly, can I suggest to you… my best guess, of the pleasure for you at the same, exact moment which made that moment, a loving moment, between you and Carl?”
“You sure can because I don’t see any pleasure at all!”
“The first one which occurs to me is you asserted yourself by honouring your own values and challenging Carl to reassess his; next, you strengthened your own spirit by creating the self esteem and self confidence needed to deal with feeling abandoned; you also used your independence to reached out to your friend and strengthened that special relationship even further; you also raised your self worth by defining more clearly how important you are to yourself; in addition, you protected your relationship with Carl by showing him what you expect in the future from him; you also protected your joint financial future with Carl by alerting him to your values about wealth whether it is money, work or time together; and you protected you physical health by managing the stress of feeling abandoned; …Holly, you got smarter and stronger in many ways at that very moment!”
“Geeze, Ken…why didn’t I notice all of these pleasurable things happening at that moment”
“…not to be happy…rather to grow your sense of being Holly!”
“Holly, you need to be aware, there is an equal pleasure in every pain, if you are going to look for them…and you need to find them yourself, in your own relationships, if you are to prove to yourself, the truth of this natural law! This awareness and commitment…are the same two skills required for a healthy relationship!” I replied.
“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” – Anais Nin, author
“You are really saying, being with Carl, let’s me be me…but, you are also saying being with Carl, let’s me grow me, too! Is that correct?”
“Yes! That’s the real purpose in you being with Carl…not to be happy…rather to grow your sense of being Holly! Being with Carl enables you to be who you are, and to do what you need to do, so you can have what you need to have, to honour yourself!
“When I look at it that way…my anger and frustration disappear…and I’m starting to appreciate him for who he is and what he does! I’m almost grateful he is Carl because I am seeing why I’m in this relationship…to be me!”
“Now Holly, you’re talking like a wise woman! Congratulations! But, please always remember, we all must pay for our wisdom…it’s nature’s law! Let me offer you one more thought and, perhaps insight, into this event!
“OK!” she replied with a touch of uncertainty.
“I suspect, if you look through your past, long before you met Carl, you will find several other significant, similar events that required you to stand up for your values, assert your independence and protect yourself. This event was just another one which required you to be yourself, do what you needed to do, to have the life you need to be OK with yourself. So Carl, by being Carl, with his own value system, enables you, with your value system, to grow smarter and stronger! And it works both ways!”
“Ken, I think I’m getting it! Before we talked, I was infatuating Carl, from now on, I’m going to love him, instead. Thank you!” she replied.
“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
– Epicurus, philosopher
Until Next time…
So, remember, instead of infatuating or resenting your significant other, truly love them, by expecting and offering, both support and challenge, so you both can grow yourselves, while appreciating each other.
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