We all have our stories of relationships, beginning with parental and familial relationships, moving on to friendships and romance.
When we are young, we think that our parents are the entire world. We cannot imagine life without them. It’s only natural. In youth, we are like sponges soaking up everything we see and hear. As we grow older, many of us rebel from that. As a teens, we try to become our own persons; breathing room is needed.
But sometimes a dysfunction comes when another isn’t willing to let us think for ourselves–let us breathe and become. It an absorbing position to have, avoiding being yourself, sitting on the ledge of someone’s perceptions of you. I’ve been there. Many have. Some are still there. In some cases, you don’t even realize it’s happening.
There’s a certain inseparability. You feel that the happiness of the other is your responsibility. If there’s sadness, you’re the only one who can leaven it. If they feel anger, your willingness can dampen it. And if you’re not there to help, you might garner blame, or be made to feel guilty. To this other person, you are almost too important; you are everything in their world. Without you physically there–or without your willingness in mind and spirit–they will become a casualty. They will drift like one more rudderless boat without an assured course. Without you, they have nothing.
Because we are so dreadfully, detrimentally important, we cannot go our own way. We cannot go out with friends, because we will be at risk of coming under a different persuasion. But people who truly love us (people who know what loves means) will give us a rest. They will encourage us to mingle with others in the world; encourage us to look for ourselves, and come to our own conclusions–not just to see the world as they see it. They will want what’s best for us instead of just what’s best for them, what earns them praises or makes them feel good and in control. What matters in life is not just what matters to them. What matters in your life is what matters to you. And if they hurt that bad when you leave the room, the problem isn’t with you, it’s with them.
Manipulation can be very covert sometimes. And sometimes we just assume it’s the way things are supposed to be, calling it closeness in a relationship or strictness in parenting. Do you feel that it’s easy to mistake healthy love for unhealthy, stifling love? What does an unhealthy relationship look like anyway? I think an unhealthy relationship involves a silencing of one side for the loudness of another. Many relationships can unintentionally fall into this. But people who truly love should be willing to learn to allow their partner to speak their mind, and have feelings apart from their own. People who don’t intend to let you be yourself, who cannot handle feelings apart from their own, can only have their own interests at heart.
If someone said they wanted “to be my everything,” I’d have said, “no way.” There’s no way another human being can be “my whole world.” But another person can be my partner in life. They can be very important to me without encouraging me to float adrift on a subjective, other-directed sea. Sure, sometimes, sure, you affect my mood. And sure, I will be there to support you when you need it. But the reality isn’t a complete melding of selves. I have my own feelings, and you have yours. We are strong together because we respect each others individuality. Because you respect my independence, I love you more. If we can’t healthily disagree then we can’t healthily be together, either.