If you were to look at the history of my intimate/romantic relationships in this life, there would be a theme that would eventually surface if you looked for it and waited for it long enough. In every relationship I have ever chosen and committed to in some way or another, I have constructed it so that I am in the background, the sidekick position. Introverted and insecure in many ways, I have always disliked being the center of attention for fear that if people looked at me long enough, they would see through me, see my flaws, and like myself, label those flaws and imperfections as who I am and then reject me. Consequently, my partners and lovers have generally been ostentatious and/or un-ignorable in some way, whether looks, personality, behavior, talents/skills, or any combination therein. These people are magnetic and charismatic in some way – people are drawn to them by their very nature. And with all the attention focused on them, it has been easy for me to hide in their shadows.
I have hidden because hiding is safe. No one really holds you accountable to life and living when you’re hidden. I don’t hide and/or I have not hidden in all aspects of my life. In some, I’ve been downright flamboyant and provocative. But for as long as I can remember, I have always chosen that path in my romantic relationships. And while being hidden might afford some safety, it has enormous drawbacks. One that screams for attention (ironically) the most is that of freezing in time. When I hide, it is as though who I am at the very beginning (or within the first few months) of that relationship seizes and stops and freezes in the moment. And it becomes a prison for my Self – not the relationship, but the decision to hide. I lock into a moment of my identity, my development, and I do not move forward. Instead, I live for the other person, through the boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other. And that is not healthy.
You might imagine the difficulty this creates, both in the relationship and in my Self. Because truly, my Self is screaming at me the entire time to get going, though it has taken who knows how many relationships and years to finally reach my ears and my heart today. Looking back, though, I can see that it has been yelling for a long time. My Self has wanted to continue growing, wants to continue evolving and changing. [Sidenote: I wonder if my years of being single with romantic relationships spotted here and there have anything to do with that.] But my ego has long been in charge and its serenade of “not good enough” echoing constantly in the background has overflowed like a flood into my behavior patterns.
Until today, there has only been one instance that I can recall in which I noticed this pattern and launched myself out of the situation. It was my first serious boyfriend in college. I had been dating him for almost a year and a half. We met toward the end of spring semester my freshman year at the restaurant where we were both working. I hadn’t made many friends at that point, so when we began dating, I spent almost all my time with him. As time marched on and the close of my sophomore year came, I had actually made a number of friends at the restaurant. I wanted to spend time with them before leaving the country to study abroad that coming year. My boyfriend was angered. He was full of bitterness and resentment and manipulation, attempting to guilt trip me into spending more time with him by telling me I didn’t care about him. If I cared about him and loved him, I would want to be with him more right before I left. I was able to pause then and look over the past year. I saw how different I had become, how much I had looked to him for my identity. While I’m not entirely clear on what codependent looks like, it looked a lot like that. I was rediscovering my Self, finding people who enjoyed being around me and who I called friends, and he was pissed off. The reality of the situation rocked me and opened my eyes. I was choosing these relationships to help me see what it was/is that I do and what lies at the root of it. After all, how can I break a pattern I can’t see? And while some things have changed, and I’ve made some small progress, most of the work has been band-aids over a gaping wound.
A few months ago, I started to think of the lessons I learn in terms of spirals. Frequently, I will run into a lesson that I thought I had already learned or that felt oddly familiar. At first, I felt like a failure or a fraud in that while I had thought I learned it, I obviously hadn’t if it was reappearing. After further reflection, though, I came to realize that certain lessons were revisiting me on a deeper level. I had learned the lesson at one level, successfully, but the lesson was greater and deeper and required a reprise to be able to grasp it on a different level, to grasp it more fully.
One of my recent previous posts was about self-love and self-acceptance. In it, I talked about how I had worked to get to a point where I could say I loved my Self, but that I did. I wasn’t lying at the time – I had meant it wholeheartedly. But recently, I’ve taken a turn on the spiral and come around again to this lesson because this is what is at the root of this particular behavior pattern. Just like with surrender, I think there are varying levels to self-love and self-acceptance. This relationship pattern of hiding is out of a lack of self-love, self-appreciation, self-acceptance. If I love my Self, I won’t compare my Self to others. I won’t be trying to be them instead of allowing who I am to come to the surface and make its Self known to me. And I still currently do those things.
I’ve done and I continue to do that a great deal with my beloved. My beloved is an amazing woman. Aside from being an unbelievably talented and skilled Witch, Healer, and psychic, she is the bravest, most wonderfully fascinating, and hardest working woman I have ever met. I have looked to her for so many things that I want to be instead of looking within to learn about who I am. I have forgotten and lost the goddess within. And it is the silence between us right now that finally reached my ears like a song long-forgotten whose music speaks of this lesson so that I might remember and embrace it.