Be the Partner You Wish to Have
- 2012 May-June
In our quest for wholeness, we often try to make up for our internal emptiness by seeking completion in another. Many of us have taken this to an extreme, believing that fulfillment is only possible in the arms of a soul mate.
Romance. The ultimate dream, especially if Hollywood has anything to do with it. The best thing that can ever happen to you: finding your dream partner. Yet until we heal our relationship with ourselves, we will see our own dissatisfaction reflected in our intimate relationships. My own relationships used to go swimmingly at first, but with time, the judgments would start to kick in. Why doesn’t he put the cap on the toothpaste?! or If he really loved me, he would pay me more attention. My illusions were soon shattered, and as I looked more closely at my partner, I began to see things I didn’t like. In other words, I began to see myself. In my obsession with finding external fulfillment, I had come to neglect the most important relationship of my life: my relationship with myself.
Our relationship with ourselves tends to be the one we attend to last. We often have our needs on the bottom of the list; we think that loving ourselves is selfish. Yet until we learn to love ourselves, our intimate relationships will be filled with need and codependency. Need leads to manipulation and the need to control; all the little games we learn in order to get the other person to do what we want. Yet where is the love in all of this? Manipulation and control do not come from love; they come from fear. When I began to look inwards and make the journey towards self acceptance, I became increasingly aware of an underlying fear that had accompanied me in all of my relationships: a profound fear of abandonment, the enduring legacy of my childhood adoption. I hid this behavior from my partners, terrified that if they saw my neediness I would appear fragile and unattractive, but although I ignored it, it wouldn’t go away.
I repeated this dynamic many times in my life, until I found myself breaking up from one last relationship, where the fear of loss and abandonment had reached such an extreme I could bear it no longer. I finally understood that my security could not be based in the external, that I had to cultivate an internal experience of love-consciousness and find stability within myself. When we feel complete within ourselves, we no longer feel the absence of the other when they are not present, so the need to control them disappears naturally. With this sense of self-sufficiency comes great freedom and the ability to truly enjoy each other’s presence. I used to think that if I let go of the attachment to my loved ones, I would lose them, but when I finally did so, I discovered that actually the opposite is true. When you love without conditions, even if your partner is not by your side you feel closer to them than ever before. For you have found them within yourself.
Excerpted from the book Love Has Wings. ©2012 by Isha Judd. Printed with permission from New World Library.