Today I’m sharing a story that is more personal, because it was one of the biggest revelations I’d ever had about my relationships. Game-changer, in fact.
A few years back, I was in the middle of taking a personal development and coaching program. One of the components of the program, which I attended once a month for a long weekend, was something called relationship research.
The first day of that weekend was grueling. We were each given a thick packet of paperwork, and asked to spend what felt like several hours inventorying our past relationships.
It was like reliving every painful thing that had ever occurred to me.
The guy I longed for in college, but who rejected me because I wouldn’t ever be happy enough staying home and raising children. A line-item dissection of all the reasons my marriage fell apart. A man I’d dated after my divorce who was clear that our paths were very different.
The list was long. And, after documenting galore, I could see it so clearly. The most obvious one was that I jumped ship emotionally in every single one of those relationships at the exact same point: when I got scared that there wasn’t a way to have what I wanted. I pretended I didn’t care, and then overcompensated by trying to prove them wrong. But I never, ever shared the thing I wanted that didn’t feel possible.
Ugh. It was a downer.
Up until then, I’d just thought all that my relationships not working out was the result of choosing the wrong person. Bad timing. Bad life circumstances.
But here it was in black and white.
I was the reason they hadn’t worked out.
I’d kept a really significant secret from each of them by not sharing what I’d wanted, and in turn, chasms had been created. So I worked really hard at the aspects of the relationship that weren’t that vulnerable, poking holes at all the things that were “wrong.” But what was really wrong was that I was avoiding asking for what I wanted. At some point, there was a gap that could not be bridged.
I cried. I felt guilty for all the blame I’d placed on them for screwing things up. I also felt a fear so deep, I was shaking. To claim the desires of the depths of my soul in front of another human being felt so confronting.
And, just like that, we were brought back together as a group. We were asked to sit with our relationship research partner. There was some reflection on what we learned shared in the group.
It ended with us being asked to stand, and participate in a group ceremony. We were told our research commitment was going to be affirmed with the exchange of rings. My partner had scored some matching iridescent gum ball machine rings, and he offered one to me.
I was feeling nauseous. My whole body was rejecting the notion of confronting my role in relationships…and the similarities to a wedding ceremony had me all the more revolted.
I could barely speak the words, but in the end, we held hands and declared our vows of research. Mine involved telling the full truth about what I wanted.
It could have been the closest I’ve ever been to a panic attack.
(Incidentally, this is part of a bigger story I’m telling over on Instagram, if you’re dying to know what happens next!)
Try this: grab a piece of paper, and list your significant relationships. For each of them, ask yourself what you really wanted in the relationship and note that. Then, see if you can identify what made you feel like you couldn’t have it (maybe it felt vulnerable, maybe you felt like you didn’t deserve it, etc.) Then see if you can find the behaviors that showed up as a result. Were these the behaviors that ultimately led to separation and disconnection in the relationship?
What do you see about your relationships? Is there a pattern to what’s been happening?
(And remember, once you see the pattern, you can change it – that’s what I’m here for. If you want to schedule a FREE, no-strings-attached call to take a look at it together, let’s do it.)