Thursday, May 10, 2012

Be Real In Relationships

Back in the days when I wished my partner could somehow intuit what I wanted, I thought I was looking for romance and love, but I wasn’t really.  I was looking for somebody who would rescue me from having to make my own decisions, from having to face all the discomfort of claiming what I wanted.  From facing my own fear of risking being in my power.

So it wasn’t really about wanting him to be perfect, it was about not wanting to face that I wasn’t, and not realizing how truly disempowered I was and how I was scared to be real in relationships.  How could I know?  I had never experienced empowerment, so I couldn’t compare my own way of being to anything else.  

I certainly didn’t know I was scared of my own power, that I didn’t believe I had the right to say what I needed and wanted.  I didn’t know there was anything within me that I needed to work on.  I guess it's called denial.

I was 21 going on about 14 when I got married to a man with pretty diminished skills in the accountability department.  I thought I married him because I loved him, but actually it was just because he seemed to like me, and that felt like a haven.  It was more than I had ever known; I didn’t have a clue what real love and respect felt like.

In the beginning it kind of worked, because I did whatever he wanted.  I thought it was love, that he tolerated me and said he loved me.  I denied that he didn’t really pay me any attention, didn’t try to connect with me.  I denied that that hurt, and made me angry.  

We did a lot of long distance cycling trips – through East Africa, around the south of England, around Greece, and from New York to Key West.  He was much taller and stronger and fitter than me, but we always went at his pace and we carried equal luggage on our bicycles – which pretty much epitomizes the nature of our relationship and the status quo between us.

We went where he wanted to go, we did what he wanted to do.  When we stopped traveling, I got the work doing whatever I could – usually waitressing – while he played chess in the park.  At first I didn’t even realize anything was wrong.  If anybody asked me the question why are you doing it? I would say, because I love him. 

If they tried to point out that I was being used in the relationship I’d angrily protest you don’t understand.  I believed he was smarter than me, more deserving, and much, much more important.  I had never heard the words entitlement and self esteem.  I didn’t know I had any rights at all. I know it now, I've got much better entitlement and self esteem.

Many women still don't, though, all over the world.  And we all have a long way to go. We’re so much more empowered than we used to be, which is fantastic, but it’s still hard for many of us to be real in relationships and claim what we really need.