This might be one of the most challenging blogs, stories, poems I ever tried to write. It tries to get to the heart of my life without getting too personal, which is clearly a delicate balance. It was written or is being written both at night, in my dreams, and in the daytime. We might all know or think we know what a relationship is. But maybe it’s also something more than we realize, constantly changing as we live.
Blogs often arise when I see a hint of what is usually not seen and then follow it, try to open it up, or open me up. Last night, for example, I had this feeling that there was nothing more to write about, nothing more hidden away. Then, in a dream, the hidden side of that feeling was exposed, and there certainly was something there. Something that is almost always with me.
In the dream, a young boy and a woman were sitting at a table with me. I didn’t know the boy. My dream self knew the woman, but I don’t think my daytime self does. We were talking about human relationships, particularly intimate ones, and the boy kept asking, what do you mean?
For me, like most teenagers and people in their early twenties, relationships of any type, family, friends and certainly lovers, were one of the most important aspects of life. It was not just about fun and pleasure. It was an attempt, a yearning, to get to know how another person experienced life, experienced pains and joys, challenges, and insights ⎼ and to get to know how other people saw me. Such an experience was too fascinating, too powerful to ignore. At its base was the desire to love and be loved. I thought of each person that attracted me as a mystery waiting to be revealed. But unfortunately, I only found glimpses of what I sought. I didn’t know how to go deeper. It felt like I might lose myself if I did.
Then it, like everything, changed. I met someone and realized I could truly love this person.
The psychologist Carl Jung theorized that when we’re first attracted to someone, we’re perceiving in the other elements of ourselves we’ve denied, lost, or neglected. Our attraction is an attempt to recover what was lost. We project an emotionally charged image of the other person, creating a fascination for them. And likewise, we can think this other person is responsible for our own emotions, our love.
But to maintain a relationship, we must let go of what first attracted us, let go of this image and fascination, to find the reality, find the truly breathing person. And if we think of the other as the source of our loving, we never see, never truly feel, who we are. We give up our power over our own emotions and look for ourselves in the wrong places. We get habituated to looking outside ourselves to satisfy what lives inside us. Instead, we must make a decision of sorts, to be honest about who these two beings standing here, now, are.
In the dream, I said to the young boy that a loving relationship isn’t really a relationship at all, and it’s not just between two people. But I’m not sure what the dream me meant. It sounds deep, but maybe it’s got a dream logic that makes no sense in the daylight. Relationship– the roots and etymology of the word takes us to re, meaning back or again, and the Latin relatio, or refero (I relate, refer), fero meaning to bear or carry. It can mean a type of association, kinship, where we carry inside us another being. Another being comes alive in us. Maybe, we bear the weight of feeling vulnerable, and allowing another’s well-being to be as important as our own.
Maybe the dream me was referring to the fact that we all exist in a larger setting, a community, a world. Or maybe he was talking about something else……
*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.
**The photo is of my parents.