Friday, October 21, 2011

Through the looking glass (Originally published 8/16/11)

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Chances are it is quite different from what those looking from an outside perspective are seeing. For better or worse, we are not the most objective creatures on the planet. Whether too critical or overly inflated, our perception of our own self tends to vary from how others see us. This makes it all the more interesting when we find ourselves in relationships with people who share some of our same key qualities or quirks. When you look out through your own eyes and see yourself in another it has the potential to be a powerful and transformational force, again, for better or worse.

I've marveled at friendships I've had with people who share so many similarities with me, often wondering how we haven't managed to drive each other a little crazy over the years. I've found equal fascination with relationships I hold with people so dissimilar from me in pretty key areas, admiring how our differences serve to enhance each of our respective life experiences. Of course there are those relationships where the similarities or differences just seemed to be too great, too much somehow, for us to maintain a peaceful and lasting exchange. All these combinations are what makes the world go round. And to me none is quite so intriguing as the people we fall in love with and how this "looking glass" phenomena manifests within those relationships.

I gave quite a bit of attention to the differences between C. and I in my last post. I am definitely my own woman just as he is his own man. We have a plethora of dissimilar experiences and characteristics between us, yet we also have some really eery similarities. I'll focus right now on what some would consider the less desirable personality traits because it is there that the real work and the real benefit of such an intimate relationship are found. C. and I are both highly sensitive, super emotional and know how to use words with extremely pointed purpose. This may not sound like a list of awful characteristics on its surface, but when combined under just the right, or better, the wrong, circumstances, you have yourself a cocktail for one seriously explosive dynamic. We hurt easily, finding ourselves provoked at times by the slightest misstep, elevated tone of voice or unrealized expectation. And when that happens, hurt, and the fear it brings along with it, can wrap themselves up in anger, lashing out at the cause of the pain. Objectively, we both know this isn't particularly healthy, helpful or logical. We know that it really just brings more pain to everyone involved. Yet it is seeing this tendency in the other that seems to really be driving home for each of us just how much we need and want to sublimate it.

To see the man I love in any sort of pain is torture for me. So I start to really look at it, analyze it, dissect it every which way in hopes of understanding what is at play so I can help him not feel pain. In doing that, I simply cannot overlook that much of what I see happening within him happens within me as well. It is kind of unnerving really, in that it can make you wonder how you've gone so long with unhealthy patterns in your life and not quite known just how significant they were. In addition to loving the heck out of each other, sharing in all the joy and wonder that comes with soul connection, an intimate relationship like ours is also about supporting one another in becoming our very best self. We must first see ourselves clearly in order for that to happen, but since that can be easier said than done in certain instances, seeing ourselves reflected in the other is one of The Universe's clever little tricks for allowing the process of growth and self realization to unfold.

I feel such gratitude to be with someone as self aware as I am so we can share in this human experience together. Yes, it can be a little frustrating at first, and absolutely humbling, when you see the less-than-pretty parts of yourself held up right before your eyes in that proverbial mirror. But when you see them in someone you love, it helps you to love yourself a little more too, and to hopefully be a little more patient, compassionate and empathetic, both inwardly and outwardly. This really is one of the great rewards of our most sacred relationships, according to me anyway. So for all the reasons why I give thanks that C. is in my life, on the list is that he shares some of my negatives and that we get to help each other turn them into positives. I hope you can try to see things from this vantage point with the ones you love most, and be a little kinder toward both yourself and them in the spirit of being your best selves!

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