Love is one of the most intense feelings I’ve ever experienced. Humans live for love. Humans die for love. Humans continue to exist because of love. While love is an amazing aphrodisiac, it also stimulates a fearful climax because it woos us onto a plane of vulnerability that defies gravity as a law of nature.
At the distinct moment we realize we’re in love, we float upward into the light of another person’s world of magic. A world colored by exotic shades of experience each lover carelessly totes from the party of their past. Too often, dusk arrives, and we stumble around drunk-like in the shadows of uncertainty. We lose sight of why we fell in love. Our partner starts to look like an imagined monster in the dark of night.
I grew up with a Christian-based life view.
A “fallen nature” was the main explanation for behaviors we labeled as “sin.” Psychology—the scientific study of human behavior was generally a threat to our belief that Satan was out to destroy us. Our power was not in understanding ourselves better, but in solely submitting our will to God. I carried this belief pattern into every single relationship, whether love or not. I never sought to understand myself and my partner better. I only hung onto relationships for dear life by submitting to my partner’s will. I’d learned that submission was the mark of a Christian woman in the center of God’s will. Perhaps a course in psychology might have saved me from years of judging myself and other sinners still at the mercy of a misery against which we had no defense. Instead, I wasted my sanity on superstition–ignoring logical and intuitive constructs that might have explained my dysfunction so I could finally be free.
I think most everyone wants to have a happy relationship. Many start out with fairytale ideas about how they’ll be swept off their feet by a soulmate who is perfect in every way. Slowly, or sometimes abruptly, our fantasies change according to circumstances we’re convinced are beyond our control. Because love is such an emotional experience, we refuse to evaluate our relationships outside of what we feel at surface level. We get stuck in patterns where each partner reads their line on queue but has no idea what the other person really intends to communicate.
At the extreme, relationships can become lethal and even abusive to the point where we must run for our life. Hopefully, you’ve never experienced the type of fear that brainwashes you to believe you’re damned to hell with no options of escape. I’d venture to say that every single person on this earth has experienced some version of prison in their love life yet lacked the tools and willpower to chip their way out of a dark, damp cell of chained torture. But within us all, is a spark of hope that can be ignited as a blaze of passion if we only have the proper lens through which to imagine ourselves free.
I’ve lived the extremes in relationships and witnessed the result of what my religion might explain as demonic forces, ignoring I had a choice to modify behaviors that could be traced back to my childhood.
I’ve found myself as a part of an uncomfortable scene, making a case for my sanity versus the insanity of someone I once loved. I’ve sat still, unassumingly with childlike wonder, building a sandcastle between my legs, when it suddenly became urgent that I draw a line in the sand between normal and abnormal.
I’ve battled complex questions like, “When does healthy inter-dependence suddenly become toxic co-dependence?” I’ve had to learn the difference between passion and obsession, compassion and martyrdom. I’ve neutralized the ground between victim and victimizer.
There are multiple layers of awareness when it comes to relationships and the brave at heart dare to discover what is inside the hidden shed of our darkest fears. This hidden shed of fears is what we’ll refer to throughout the book as, The Shadow. Late psychologist Carl Jung developed the shadow theory and stated that our shadow is the unknown dark side of our personality.
Throughout this book, I’ll use the concept of Shadow to take a critical look at how deep-seated fears manifest, for better or worse, in our love relationships.
#relationships #love #darkside #shadows #spirituality #dysfunction