“Again and again it defeats me—This reliance on others for bliss.” John Welwood, “Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart”
This last weekend, Ed and I attended a couple’s workshop. The subjects included love, money, power and intimacy, among others. It was a great opportunity to relate in an environment that provided a good mix of intellectual discussions with other couples and heart connection with one another. One of the highlights of the workshop for me was Ed agreeing to participate with me in Saturday night entertainment: we took turns writing short love poems and haiku over the lunch hour then read them to one another in front of the group later in the evening.
Like any good workshop, it also presented an opportunity for a mis-connection—and the resulting process of ironing out the wrinkles and coming to a place of understanding one another’s perspective. I won’t go into details—other than to say that on Sunday morning, we had a series of disconnects that left me feeling upset and confused. And in subsequent discussions with Ed, I understood that the source of my upset and confusion was myself: I had unspoken expectations about how I wanted Ed to respond/react to me, and when he didn’t meet my unspoken expectations, I concluded that there was something wrong with me.
As is so often the truth, what I discovered is that I’m fine just as I am and Ed is fine just as he is. And rather than interpreting his response or lack of response as an indication that something was wrong about me, I really needed see that we simply had different mindsets at the time. Thus, what I learned is this: whether my partner (or friend) can meet me in any given energetic space has nothing to do with whether I am ok. As long as I offer myself unwavering and uncompromising approval and self-acceptance, it is perfectly fine for my partner and I to think and feel differently.
As I was processing all of this, I couldn’t stop thinking about the above quote from John Welwood’s beautifully written book on navigating relationships with others—and with ourselves. When I first read this quote in 2012, I thought it was bleak and isolating. However, this weekend, I finally got it: while other people are vital to my life, to adding richness, depth and meaning, other people (even my long-term Sweetie) are not responsible for my bliss. That’s on me, through self-approval and acceptance. Ed is entitled to occupy his own space and to have his own needs. When we connect well, it is bliss; when we do not, I can still have my bliss, as long as I stay connected to myself.
“Perfect Love Imperfect Relationships” is a gorgeous read—for anyone—whether in a relationship or not. I highly recommend it!