Finding Images Via Couplehood
Coffee Time Wednesday December 26, 2012
Couplehood as “the path within the path” was borne out in Pat’s and my coffee time this morning. Pat opened our Sacred Spiritual Practice Sharing Time with some of her own images (negative beliefs we hold about ourselves that become patterns for how we go through life). Her images and patterns were familiar, and we had discussed them many times before. Just seeing them and then willing these wrong beliefs about ourselves and about life away, however, does not work. No, we have to feel into the negativity in our lives brought on by our wrong conclusion and beliefs about life, examine our beliefs and their origins, come to understand why they are wrong, and let them go. So here is how the rest of our coffee time went…
Pat: I always want to play more lofty roles in the world, beyond just being in our relationship, but I see that much of what we bring to the world is the result of our working through the issues that come up in our relationship, our “Pat and Gary USness.” And to look at that right now. What is the Truth in each of us and in our relationship that is present right here and right now? Gary: Immediately I feel the terror in me arise when you lay this question on the table! You are inviting me to be here with you right now and fully. Yes, consciously I say that is what I want, but yikes, when you pose being fully present here right now I get all jittery and frightened – as if I have been caught at doing something wrong. You are inviting us to a real connection right now. And just where am I just now?
I shared with Pat all the energy I have felt these past few days in fleshing out a 2013 Vision for Mid-Atlantic Pathwork. I felt much satisfaction in this work, seeing it as a culmination not just a few recent days but of my many years in Pathwork, mining the Pathwork Lectures, and interacting with others on and off the Pathwork Council as we try to envision an enlivened set of Pathwork offerings in our Mid-Atlantic Pathwork School. Much of Christmas Day I had spent with Pat in front of the fireplace. But this time together on Christmas Day included her reading while I was working on this 10-page Vision Statement (open if you’d like to see the current version – and I am always interested in feedback as this vision evolves). So part of me was not in fact with Pat but with this Pathwork Vision, even though in this moment we were sitting together sipping our coffee and sharing.
So with Pat asking the question about where I was with her this morning I felt caught, caught in not being fully present to Pat in this our most sacred time of our day. But in the first place why would I opt to attach my energy to this Pathwork Vision statement and not to being fully present to Pat? I say I want this relationship more than anything in my life, but if that were so, would I not be fully present to her in these precious times of connection?
In reflecting further on this I was quickly taken back to my little boy experiences with Mom. I began sharing with Pat. Gary: Here you (Mom) are inviting me into a deep emotional connection with you, and I seem to want no part of it. I feel terror, and the terror feels beyond being caught in my mind and energy being somewhere else other than with you where I think it should be, however. I realize that what you are inviting me to in a connection with you is in many ways foreign to me. Going back to Mom, I had no clue what an emotional connection with Mom would have been like. So you are inviting me to an unfamiliar space and I am fearful of the unfamiliar. Pat: Why is that? Please say more.
Gary: Honoring your request for full presence of me would require me to give up what I have adopted as patterns and defenses. I adopted these patterns and defenses in order to find even a modicum of happiness in this world. What are these patterns? Here this morning my pattern is not being fully here with you but rather having energy for this Pathwork Vision and away from connection with you. It’s the bird in the hand (working on this vision, a familiar space and one that inspires me) vs. two in the bush (having an emotional connection with you – something that could theoretically give me even greater joy, but I do not know this joy experientially and so stick with what I do know that at least gives me some joy, namely, working on this Pathwork Vision Statement).
Gary: But there is an even deeper image involved here. My belief is that to have a free and life-giving emotional connection with you I would have to give up being me, being who I am. With Mom and Dad it seemed to little Gary that there was no valuing of who I was. So when in the presence of Mom or Dad I would numb out what was truly alive in me and turn up the volume on my performance mode – doing what they held to be of value. So my behavior was split between my external world and my internal world.
Pat: Let’s really slow down here and take in this plight of little Gary. This is very painful for me to sit with. How could a child tolerate not being valued by Mom, tolerate knowing that Mom couldn’t value you from her own conditioning. Gary: I was an “it,” valued neither for my humanness nor for any Divinity that was part of my Essence. And this “having no value” was sealed by the Lutheran Church and their weekly liturgy that began with the confession, “I, a poor miserable sinner.”
Gary: Unconsciously I had this longing to be valued for being who I am, and concluding that I was valueless as I was I set out on a path to prove I was of value. In Enneagram terms I became identified with my performer self, the THREE. Pat: I believe it was Goethe that said, “I have no value, therefore I must prove myself.
Gary: So here we are in our USness. I have no experience of being valued as I am apart from my performing. USness is not performing, so I am limited as to how much time I can devote to US. And it is a huge risk to give up the performer in me to see what might happen if I were naked before you and before the world in our USness. My image is clear: I, Gary, have no intrinsic value, our relationship has no value to the world, and so I must prove myself at all times. If I am not proving myself I feel unworthy of connecting with you or others, and because I am never really proving myself to my own satisfaction, I cannot connect and hence also feel very isolated and separate from you and others. So in fear I return to my comfort zone of working on the Pathwork Vision where I feel relatively safe and may even have a shot at being of value. But even here I am at risk. What if people do not relate to my vision, do not value my vision? I can see that I am creating a dependency on people cheering my Vision and seeing it as valuable – and hence ME as valuable. All kinds of binds here! Numerous negative vortexes. I love what is coming up here for me to see!
Pat: Isn’t it amazing that that real life in you showed up and fed you? Your joy in playing with your Erector Set, studying cosmology, astronomy, chemistry, nuclear physics, all the intricacies of your Lutheran Church dogma, your exploring so much spirituality outside the boundaries of your Lutheran Church, your fascination with photographing wildflowers, and even now Pathwork and this Vision Statement. Gary: Yes. And that enlivened life is precisely what I concluded was not or would not be valued by Mom and Dad. And, of course, would not be valued by me! So my life was split by these images and conclusions about life: To be valued by Mom or Dad (or that part of me that is the critic) I had to perform in some way in their world. My joy from what I valued and what enlivened me was not a factor in how I led much of my life.
Gary: So as I sit here with you this morning I must deal with the fear that I won’t be valued by you if I show up as simply me, or we won’t be valued by the world if we show up as merely US. Or that I won’t be valued by me if I show up as simply me. And so as you invite me to be me, a certain resentment comes up in me, knowing that I can’t be me. To be here with you, my little Gary believes he has to back away from the energy he is feeling for his Pathwork Visioning experience (as he did with his energy for astronomy, wildflowers, and on and on) and somehow be “different” to be here with you. I can’t be me. Or rather, I won’t be me – in defiance to you and in defiance to Life. I can feel these multiple energies in me right now!
Gary: Another image: I’d better be correct in my Pathwork Vision or for sure I have no value. And because of my image that I have no value in any area in which I have Life Energy, I will bring with me a negative intentionality that invites, even demands that others not understand and actually devalue what I have written as a Pathwork Vision.
Pat: I remember a dream I had a long time ago. You and I were at a lake. I was in the water and you were on shore about four feet from the water’s edge. I was inviting you into the water, holding your hand. Gary: And I see that that little Gary is in sheer terror! Pat: Yes, that Gary is very young. We are both very young. … What a miraculous occurrence, this you and me together, that I am with a consciousness that is well-matched to my needs for evolution as you are for your evolution. Truly our relationship is a marriage made in heaven!
Shared with love, Gary