Longing for Connection

In recent months I have come to see the longing I have for connection. It has been, I see, a core theme of my entire life. While it shows up in many places, such as my propensity to start small support groups, gather people together to connect as we work together in business and other organizations, meet with many people in one-to-one conversations over a meal or coffee, and the like, its strongest pull is in my relationship with women, that is, the women with whom I have been in a primary relationship in my life. This has been an area of growth for me as I see how my patterns and images from childhood have molded my approaches to satisfy my deep longing for a connection with a woman.

As with each of us men, much of my patterning and image-making began with my relationship with Mom. As I explore this Gary-Mom relationship with my Pathwork helper I see a number of things that have led to images, beliefs I formed and have held onto tightly in this world of relationship with a woman.

Mom seemed to be in her own world, busy with many activities, some of which, like cub scout den mother, impacted me. But mostly she was doing her own thing — meetings, sewing, many crafts, and the like. Not unexpectedly, I took this on as being totally normal. I saw that to connect with Mom, a huge longing for me, meant that I had to enter her world on her terms. This meant being the good boy, the invisible boy, the obedient boy, the helpful boy, the performer boy. She would not come into my world to find out what I was all about, what I liked and didn’t like, and who I really was. She did not come to my world, play with me, and bring out what was of interest to me. No, she seemed preoccupied with her life much of the time. May not have been unusual, but it seemed to make a big impact on me because of my very strong longing for connection, which seemed unrealizable for me to have with Mom.

This lack of an emotional connection with Mom was very painful for me. Unconscious, but painful. As children do, I took it personally — I must be such an inept, ugly child that Mom wants nothing to do with me or my world. But then, since my psyche could not handle this pain of being so unworthy of Mom’s love, I generalized and created the image that said all women were like my mom and to connect with them I would have to enter their world. They would never enter my world or meet me half way. This way my psyche did not have to deal with feeling somehow unloveable. It’s just the way women are — they live in their own worlds. So, unconsciously, this became my modus operandi with women — figure out their world (through my eyes even, based upon Mom’s world, not truly their world) and play into it. After being in a relationship for a while of course I came to resent this arrangement, but the image was solid and could not be easily dismantled. My resentment would turn to anger and rage. But mostly I felt stuck, and I numbed out the resentment, rage, and anger that lived within my psyche in my relationship with a special woman.

Then there was the matter of relationship itself. What was modeled for me by Mom and Dad was that the husband-wife couple relationship was about having a fair amount of independence, each being in their own world, not much emotional connection or intimacy, and in relationship they come together in a dutiful way to go to church or a family gathering. This may not have been true, but it is how I experienced them. This left me not expecting much in relationship except perhaps for the sexual experiences.

The latter, of course, was a total mystery and billed as a source of danger and even evil. So I could not go there either. It seemed my whole relational life with women was lopsided and distorted, and with sex added became scary, not giving me the fulfillment I truly longed for. I did not even know what this longing for fulfillment in a complete and full relationship with a woman was — it was beyond anything I could envision. Total mystery.

So to summarize, my image about women was that to connect you had to comply to the rules of their life game, and about relationship, that it had little to do with emotional intimacy and connection but more about sexuality and form in social circles. Yet my heart burned for a full multi-dimensional relationship with a woman. I just had little knowledge what this would be. To proceed I would have to let any expectation I might have about such a relationship drop by the wayside and experience true relationships with a real woman through fresh eyes.

So this is what is playing out with Pat. I must stop projecting my images on her about women — that a relationship with her means playing 100% by her rules. And she does not want me to have this image! Not for a minute. And it is not fair to her not to see her more broadly for the full woman she really is. It is not fair to her to resent her for the picture of her I myself have painted! I have to dissolve my images, hard as this is, and see her for who she really is. I need, too, to drop my image about relationships — that they are emotionless and give a lot of space for independence but little mutuality — and realize that true relationships hold the potential for reciprocity and mutuality, for surrender and sharing, and for compromising in the best sense. And I must open myself to the possibility, no the probability or even certainty that this is what Pat longs for as well in our relationship.

So intellectually I get the picture, but that is not enough to move forward. The images formed in my emotional psyche cannot be reasoned out of existence by my mind. It helps to get the picture mentally, but to move forward on an emotional level I need more. My helper reminds me that this is where asking for help comes in. Asking for help from a healthy ego, not as a little boy asking Daddy God to magically take my burden away. No, I must be in touch with my ego’s longing, and go, as an adult, to God, to Jesus Christ, to my Higher Self and ask for assistance.

This is still not easy for me. There is still a stubborn streak in me that says I need to take this next step on my own without help. So could I pray that I might see the need to pray? This comes closer to possible. Wow am I a stubborn person!  But I accept that I am stubborn, accept the consequences, and do not go into the toilet over it. All of this feels like growth.  Of course part of my longing for connection is connection with God and Jesus Christ. So all of this is up for me. The wrestling feels good. Invigorating even. Feeling alive.  Feeling love.