Needs in Relationship
Pat and I had another revelatory session with our couple’s counselor yesterday. It caused me to look at my needs in relationship, and brought up a number of helpful, though challenging, insights about other relevant matters.
My conscious needs in my life have been primarily outside the realm of relationship. In my own private world I am aware of needs and set about to satisfy them. I am quite comfortable in this private world. But in considering my needs in relationship I freeze up. What are my needs, my real needs, in relationship? And if I knew them, could I reveal them to Pat or others?
My conscious focus in relationship is the needs of the other. What do I intuit that the other needs, and then how can I help meet that need? While I intellectually accept that I have many unconscious needs myself, I find I am challenged to share even those needs of which I am vaguely aware so why would I even want to explore deeper and more profound needs in relationship that are buried in my unconscious?
This pattern saddens Pat, of course. By not sharing, or even knowing, my needs, a big part of me is not showing up in relationship. Yet while Pat is eager to know me at this needs level, I find I am skittish, even terrified, to enter the waters at this level of relationship. “Let’s swim, Gary!” But her very words cause me to contract. The waters of intimacy in this arena of needs are too dangerous. Part of me does not trust Pat, or any person, on this level of vulnerability of my true needs.
Suspecting that my relationship with my parents has had something to do with this, I reflected on my sharing needs with Mom or Dad. Or with any authority figure. Even God. My God-Image came up: God (authority) will tell me where I’m messed up and what I need to do about it. There is no concept of “relating” in this image. All fear, no love. Even the “good news” of the “Gospel” tells me what I have to believe to be right with God, never mind that I cannot “make” myself believe anything. This tough authority model is a young but persistent God image. And I suspect it relates to my relationship with Pat as well.
During morning coffee, after my private meditative reflections, Pat and I discussed these matters. After I shared my challenges emerging from our couple’s session, Pat said, “I need connection!” She went on to say, “I need your connection, your presence, interest, encouragement, respect for my vulnerabilities, your receptivity.” She reflected on aspects of this missing in her childhood.
While unnerved by her cogent, “I need connection,” I softened as she elaborated. I responded, “To me, ‘I need connection,’ is an intellectual theory. Not knowing or rather not recognizing, the experience of connection, connection becomes some vague sense but not a concrete longing.” I went on to say that I can recognize “connection” in others or in the movies, so it must resonate with something alive in my soul. I am aware that this connecting is seeing it more in man/woman relationships, not in family relationships. I could not really relate to the family structure of connection in, say, “The Little House on the Prairie.”
Pat asked what some of the first steps for manifesting connection might be. What practices would help? We talked about young love and romance, the craziness of it all and yet the tastes of connection that come out of young eros. Then Pat hit upon a key notion in stating that what we are likely looking for is connection to our own selves, our respective beingnesses. As she observed this, I felt some relief. Somehow I had felt tension when she talked about connection to me. But now the doors were open to go deeper into this matter of connectedness, a connectedness within.
Pat observed that when one is connected to his or her own beingness he or she becomes a real attractor of relationships with others. If one pursued “romance” per se some key ingredients would be left out. I responded by sharing that I could see that my disconnection from me, from my beingness, blocks my experiences of romance. Pat responded, “Yes, you can’t go after romance ‘out there.'”
Reflecting on my first 50 years or so of life I could see that I was soooo disconnected from myself that any romantic experience would be fraught with problems, even disaster. So in our second cup of coffee Pat and I came back to our spiritual practices that begin with getting to know ourselves ever more profoundly, including our needs, vulnerabilities, defenses, mask selves and higher selves, and then slowly beginning to develop such that we can trust and manifest from within Life, Truth, and Love. For Pat these practices are her Awakening Into Presence program plus Authentic Movement. For me Pathwork, Ira Progoff Journal Writing Techniques, other journal writing, and Hakomi body work. And we are looking to do Authentic Movement together next year, so perhaps more doors can open in 2010. Quite a morning it was. Thanks for listening in. Have a great day.