Scenario: Things are feeling smooth and harmonious again finally – with friends, with my purpose and direction, with life. I’m finally feeling comfortable in my aloneness again and I’m finding joy in my everyday once more…then BAM things happen and disrupt life in an instant. I guess that’s nature in its full glory isn’t it?!
In my instance, due to an event that triggered pain drawn from my past relationship experiences, I unloaded the full force of my relationship anxiety onto a new friend. This split second moment of neglecting to be mindful of personal boundaries has had significant consequences and has taken its toll on this particular friendship. I have had a similar meltdown before with a different friend that has fully mended since, but this time I’m convinced I’ve really blown it.
Life is ever changing – some relationships aren’t always going to remain constant in our lives. The nature of relationships (platonic, familial, romantic) wax and wane. Some people drift and come back to you. Others drift and never come back. Some relationships are only meant to be situational and transient- serving their purpose then expiring like they never happened.
Emotionally reactive faux pas like mine can inflict fatal damage- especially when the relationship is only at the fragile sapling phase, (rather than the fully-established, weathered oak tree-type relationship). Not being able to regulate yourself emotionally as an adult can have detrimental consequences. Reality hits when you grow up and you learn that relationships are often conditional beyond childhood. People as adults are less forgiving. People as adults have less tolerance for other’s sh*t as we realise we’ve got our own sh*t to deal with- spilling over from our childhood. For many of us, the toxic overspill finds its way to every corner of our life eventually. We are essentially emotionally-wounded children walking around in our adult-suits.
I believe that as adults, everyone (at some level) is seeking solace in something or someone outside of theirselves. Why? Because, somewhere along the line, every individual has certain childhood needs that were never met. Everyone is filling a hole in their own personal way somewhere in their lives.
This concept of the conditional relationship triggers my thinking – everyone has a “shadow side” and an “ugliness” that we try to cover up as much as possible. But if we are forced to constantly cover it up- when are we allowed to be our authentic selves? When can we express the full range of our emotions- the “good”, the “bad” and the “ugly”? How are deep and raw relationships forged without a safe place to allow true expression of self? Are we only meant to have a limited, superficial connection with those around us in order to keep the peace, to protect other’s sensibilities, to keep on people’s good side, and to ensure continued acceptance from our herd?
I’ve realised that yes, it is very important to have people around you that offer love and support (and you them)- to hold space for you when you need it, to hold a mirror up to you and shine the spotlight of awareness on certain things and to even call bullsh*t on the ego-generated lies we often tell ourselves and others. But even the support and advice that our dear ones provide have their limitations and biases- influenced by their own experiences, shaped by their past joys, their past hurt.
I guess what I’m saying is that we are entitled to receive support from others but they aren’t (and shouldn’t have to be) responsible for us at the end of the day. Furthermore, when we constantly force our healing into another’s hands, boundaries will most certainly be crossed one way or another.
So what can we do about this?
We can learn to stand, fearless, in front of ourselves in all our raw, naked, wild, ugly and beautiful glory without feeling that we need to censor ourselves.
We can learn to lean into ourselves to simultaneously provide and receive the unconditional nurture and healing for our own wounds- healing that we are all longing for to some degree or another. To give ourselves the unconditional support and acceptance we required and craved but didn’t receive during our formative years. To hold space for ourselves.
We can learn to trust ourselves unconditionally. Trust that we are capable of holding ourselves time and time again. Trust that we can always rely on ourselves to provide the stability and support that we need. Trust that we can come back to ourselves constantly for the answers we seek, as, inside of every single one of us is an endless fountain of wisdom. And when we can allow ourselves the time to sit in glorious solitude – we can tap into our innate wisdom every single time. And for free.
To me, that is the true definition of an unconditional relationship- the relationship with self.