"I Demand" Meets "I Refuse"

Saturday morning I was feeling melancholy. Why? Friday had been a satisfying day, a day where major decisions were made and things seemed to be moving in a good direction on all fronts.  Yesterday started as a blue-sky day, and everything seemed to build on that. So I’m curious. Where is the sadness coming from this morning?

Over coffee our conversation begins with looking at my melancholy. I quickly identify that some longings exist in me related to aspects of our relationship. And I was feeling powerless in where to go with this. Resignation doesn’t seem the right solution, but I really am baffled as to what to do. At the same time I see the matter as mutual, with my lacking capacity for manifesting what I long for in our relationship as a real part of this. It’s big to own this, in my gut, not just as a theory in my head!

Pat: I see some “I want” energy in you. In me, when you are in this strong “I want” energy I am aware that my energy is “I’m afraid,” or, “I can’t have.”  You can always have and I can never have. That’s what arises in me.

I risked in response: Perhaps “I can’t have” is “I won’t have.”

Pat: Yes! The energy actually is stronger even that “I won’t have.”  It is “I refuse!” And it goes back to childhood. “I refuse” to be the “good obedient girl.” I have a strong “I refuse” energy in me. This energy is beyond resistance, which is more mental. “I refuse” comes from my gut. I can really feel it.

Gary: And perhaps my “I want” is more of an “I demand” energy – and it meets your “I refuse” energy. Two very powerful energies clashing.

We could smile at this insight. It was good to see the raw energy of it. A strong “I DEMAND” meeting an equally strong “I REFUSE.” All of this energy has been underground in our unconscious, boiling away, as it were.  Good to look at!

Gary: My “I demand” energy could have begun early, most likely it began with my demand for Mom to give me what I wanted – love, approval, whatever. Whatever “it” was that I demanded was not forthcoming, but I could not let the energy of my “I demand” out with Mom. So the raw energy of my “I demand” went underground and was repressed in my shadow. I dare not let the force of that energy out – not with Mom, and subsequently not with other women.

Though I could not be forthright with my “I demand,” the longing prevailed and came out indirectly, and with a lot less energy, and not clean energy. My strategy, my pattern, became, “I’ll be good,” “I’ll perform and be successful.” “I’ll give you whatever I think you want!” This was how my “I demand” energy came out sideways and unconsciously.  Never would I dare to tap into the raw energy of my “I demand!” And I carried this weak manipulative behavior into all of my primary relationships with women.

Pat and I started Stillpoint Center for Therapeutic Massage in 2000. Pat wanted the business, I wanted a relationship with Pat. So if having this business required me to take a 75/25 business investment arrangement, that was fine by me. Whatever Pat wanted. As off as this was, it was the only strategy I knew to get my longing met without my “I demand” bursting out!

And this manipulative strategy still plays out. “Where do you want to go eat tonight?” Pat could ask. I would not know. “Wherever you want.” My image or belief is that “What I want you won’t want so why ask.” We see the immaturity of this and acknowledge that these exchanges on simple day-to-day engagements do not feel good. They are painful for both of us.

Pat: When you are so indecisive or indirect, I start feeling there is something wrong with me. The painfulness of “Something is wrong with me” is severe. It is less painful for me to say, “OK, I’ll decide.”  And thus her pattern dovetails with mine.

I hate this.  Pat hates this. Each of us has these independent stances that have served us well through life, at least from a surface perspective. And there is momentum, inertia, to keep that pattern in play. It is so challenging to force movement and change on behaviors so entrenched.

But we have a choice. We do not have to stay stuck with the “I Demand” facing the “I Refuse,” but all buried in our unconscious. Rather, we can set our intention of wanting to live a mutual, loving, conscious relationship. But this is hard work. Each of us has so many patterns, images, wrong conclusions about life, and defenses to overcome.

Whew.  As we conclude coffee time we realize that we could not imagine living with anyone else.  Where else can we bring these issues out, face them, and work, by the grace of God, to dissolve them.

Feeling exhausted – but grateful!

PS And it just so happens I have been working with my recording of Pathwork Lecture 72 The Fear of Loving. It is powerful and hits our situation from many angles.