Wrestling to Reach Human Connection

Coffee time on Friday Morning

In meditation the thought arose in me that I validate myself by taking on responsibilities not my own – such as agreeing to do the videography for Karen’s Memorial Service, or all the committees on which I serve, or the finance work. Pat: But yet these activities are fulfilling and also manifest out of your generosity. Gary: True. Not black and white for sure. But I am aware that the video work, for example, is something that somehow did not seem to come out of my generosity.  It was an “ought to” or not being able to say “No, not this time” to those who asked me to do this.

Pat: Perhaps what’s up for me is related. This morning I sense that I am living removed from the Life Stream, from my Real Self, my Essence. This includes feeling removed from the various groups of which I am a member, even my spiritual group. Now others do not recognize that I am removed. They think I’m really THERE.

For example take the situation 12 years ago when I was a part of the Group Spiritual Direction gatherings that you helped to form. All of a sudden I left the group and did so without feeling the loss or without needing closure. How could I do this, “just leave,” if my Essence were really there? Somehow I was just going through the motions but not really connected. So leaving was nothing for me, but you and the group were dismayed, thinking I was “WITH YOU.”

Gary: I resonate with this. I was not truly present to and committed to my 34-year marriage. And when I left the marriage Jane was in shock. She had no idea that I was not really in the marriage. Ditto with my family of origin. When my parents were killed I seemed to be able to recover and go on.There was not a time of true mourning.  And while I would have said at the time that we were a close family, I now look back and see that I seemed to be distant, removed and in my own world growing up.

Was it that these central people in my life really didn’t matter to me? Was that why when these most significant relationships with my parents and my wife ended they could end without shattered feelings in me? Later several relationships did matter to me, or so I thought, but still I did not experience the shattering that I would have expected if I were truly present in these relationships. And at another level not only did the “other” not matter, but “I” did not matter – I betrayed my Essence in my marriage, my career, and my other relationships. I simply did not know how to connect to people in a warm human-to-human relationship.

Pat: In me this is a core split – beyond the psychological. I’m removed from “Pat Peterson” and everything going on with “Pat Peterson.” And who is the “I” who says “I’m removed”? I am not fully embodied – I am fragmented, not whole. So the challenge is how to love that which is here, fragmentation and all. Can you relate?

Gary: Yes – I feel this fragmentation, clinging to my periphery, my mask self, not dropping into my heart space. Heart space is too unknown, too scary. Pat: There is something here to appreciate, to be understood. It seems I must let something die, my ego, perhaps. Mom said I was afraid of everything growing up. I seem to be missing the basic trust in the goodness of life. Some it seems are in touch with the basic goodness of life and trust that goodness of life. Perhaps somehow they were “loved into” that place of trust. This was not so for me.

Gary: I trusted my own world – my hobbies and interests, my intuition. But I did not come to trust relationships. Rather, I would be in a world of my own with my mind, my intuition, and my creativity. But I would not know how to be in a world with other people. Pat: Yet your longing for engaging one-to-one was there. Gary: Well not that strongly. There were girlfriends I wanted to relate to but could not. I see a lot of immaturity here. Sex was fascinating, but I did not have any idea how to be with sexual feelings. Girls would reject me, and in the end I gave up. So in reality I betrayed myself, and Jane, by entering a marriage that I had no idea how to be in. There was no Eros, and yet my ego overruled that “signal” and entered marriage. I feel such remorse for that.  Jane, and I, deserved more than that from me.

Pat: You and I each had a core wounding with our moms. The depth of that pain was beyond what we could bear. We built up an entire defense structure to protect ourselves from this pain of not connecting with our moms. People who are wholehearted can be with people easily and smoothly. We don’t know if that will come to us. You and I have a prime opportunity to for movement, however. But in your relationship with others, like with Mid-Atlantic Pathwork – you are giving it one more try, but does that really work for you? Gary: At Sevenoaks I feel like an object. People want me for what I am willing to do for them. The video and audio recordings are prime examples. I feel like I am a “means” by which others can get what they want. I feel no personal connection with those asking beyond getting their desires met. And of course this brings up resentment in me. AND I realize it is my own patterning that causes me to experience others in this “cold” way. They could be the warmest folks on earth, but I would not know how to be with that, how to meet them there.

Pat: Once again it is your obedience, your “being the responsible one,” and your performance that count. You resent this being a “performance object,” a “puppet.” A voice inside of you says, “SEE ME!” not my performance. Gary: Yes, exactly. I don’t matter beyond giving others what they want from me. There is no sense of my being a source of pleasure in their company. And, of course, no sense of their being a pleasure in my company. This “being a pleasure” to each other is just not an experience I have allowed myself to feel. I have no sense of, “Gary, come forth” for the simple joy of my being in their presence. Rather, I hear, “Gary, give me what I want.” And vice versa!

It seemed to me (in my own patterning and defenses) that Jane and Mom wanted the same thing of me – a Norman Rockwell family. What did I want? I never dared to ask myself. Actually I did not know what I wanted in relationship. I had not experienced what I truly wanted from Mom, so how could I know what it was I longed for. Pat: So this is our opportunity: for you and me to really know ourselves, the other, and the experience of a warm, full human connection between us.  Gary: Amen. May this be so!

Shared in love, Gary