NORMA JEAN: Soul Mating

Four of my closest women friends are presently involved in very serious, new relationships. They are each single mothers, and over 35. Each has shared her fears and frustrations with me, while maintaining that "this is the big one." I listen to their complaints: 1) feelings of getting lost in the other, 2) the guy isn't able to fully support the concrete reality of her job and motherhood and behaves in a subtle way that insists his life is more important, 3) separations and distancing stemming from each person's fear of giving up their individual lives and 4) difficulty communicating and understanding exactly what each person wants or expects.Waking up and realizing that a relationship is not some magic carpet ride into happiness and peace of mind demands that our imaginations go into overdrive while looking at the possibilities of sharing a life.According to the great family therapist Virginia Satir, when people are highly functional they have five freedoms available to them -- the freedom to:1) See and hear exactly what they see and hear rather than what they are supposed to see and hear.2) Think what they think rather than what they are supposed to think.3) Feel what they feel rather than what they are supposed to feel.4) Want what they want rather than what they are supposed to want.5) Imagine what they imagine rather than what they are supposed to imagine.Demystifying relationships is about coming out of the isolation of our self-to-self trance and owning these five freedoms. We tend to hallucinate in relationships -- both negatively and positively based -- on what keeps us safe; we love confusion as a way to remain in a trance, and we hide by becoming caretakers or fixers.My women friends vacillate between ecstatic involvement and extreme pain and doubt while navigating through this new "in love" terrain. Crisis and separations seem to punctuate the dance and acts as a maturing device. Pattern interruption is another discomfort/joy of new love that breaks people out of their sleep. All in all, it appears to be about waking up to the paradoxes of the human heart.When we stop looking for love in our idealized images, we invite the scary prospect of a "real love." If we stop looking to the extraordinary few who have truly reached transcendent heights and get real about our lives, we can get into the human heart, where the possibilities and wonders of each day live. There is no formula for loving. No one can tell you how to love while making choices through the meandering of everyday life: parenting, struggles with faith or god, trouble loving ourselves, loving each other, loving the world. It is in the bare facts of our existence and in our friends/lovers/family/workplace that "soul" is most pregnant and ready to be born. Looking over these Personals ads we see a lot of people who seemingly share interests with us. After all the hiking, and the movies we love to watch, the moment inevitably comes to face our deeper patterns and 'longings to heal' that we all share in common just under the surface of our everyday hobbies and habits. Jump in the water in 1997, it just might be what the doctor ordered.Afraid to swim,Norma Jean P.S. Thank you John Bradshaw for constant inspiration.

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