Changing Your Leitmotif
Life is full of patterns. Of themes. Of issues and problems to resolve. Repeatedly. The most common and recurring vehicle for all of this is in lessons in our relationships with others.
I have written that I struggle with worth. How I value myself in my relationships has been an issue for the whole of my life. If you look closely at how I relate to others, you wouldn’t have to look hard or far to see that failure to value myself over and above others is a leitmotif - a dominant recurrent theme.
I think part of the reason I have struggled with this so much is because I am also selfish and self centered. I have kind of landed myself in this trap that I can’t spring where I stay in things much longer than I should because I am afraid that I will never find anything or anyone better...but that is no reason to remain in any relationship. That is inherently selfish. And shows an incredible lack of worth both for myself and the other person.
I am beginning to think about worth and selfishness differently. It is selfish for me to not tell the truth about what I want and need. I used to think that accommodation of others was a good thing and perhaps it is when used with some discernment. But the way I did it was unhealthy. I allowed what you wanted or needed from me to just be ok with me, especially if like 75% of me was inline with what you wanted. I largely believed that the 25% of me that was in disagreement could just be ignored, cast aside and steamrolled into compliance. But I have found that it is always that 25% that fucks it all up in the end. I have realized that perhaps my unwillingness to give voice to that 25% is the reason. I am beginning to believe that the 25% is not that important in its own right, but that my refusal to share my own inner conflict with someone with whom I am trying to have a relationship with is the reason. Percentages become far less important than having a platform and manner to share all of my feelings, needs and issues with a particular person or relationship.
Accommodation of others is an issue when it is used as a vehicle to cut out and off my connection and to keep hidden that which should be shared. I got it wrong again! Not sharing that I do not completely agree isn’t a noble, selfless act, it is selfish because the other person needs to know where I stand...always.
And that is the issue at the central core of me...I have not been able to take and maintain a stand. I vacillate because what I want has been so dependent upon what you wanted. I could take a stand for myself but that was always going to fold if someone I valued or loved, needed or wanted something different from me. I didn’t want to be left standing alone...
And there we have it. My leitmotif for my life - my greatest and most enduring fear, if I tell you the truth, you will leave.
It is this more than anything else that has driven my life. I see that so clearly now. I also am privy to seeing that I have no power to make you stay - no matter how much I might accommodate you or give into you or do what you want me to, you always and forever have the ability and right to leave. And there is absolutely nothing I can do to change that...ever.
Regardless of how much we love others or value them, each of us as individuals has the right and ability to walk away. To move toward or away from another. No matter what vows we make or take, we are really all in this life alone. Our one true and enduring purpose is to be honest about what we like, what we don’t, what gets us off, what doesn’t, what makes us feel loved and cared for and what does not. Being true about our core, about who we are and what we do, that is most essential for lasting honesty in whatever relationship we might find ourselves. When we stop sharing who we are, the relationships begins to die right there. And no one can ever be everything to someone else, there is no relationship where if we are being honest about who and what we are, that the other person is going to love that all the time.
And that is where worth comes in. Believing that being who you are, warts and all, and being able to show that in your relationships, knowing that the other person can reject that at any time takes a lot of fucking, sustained courage. And I have lacked that...repeatedly. So much easier to lie to you and accommodate you and keep you in the dark about who I am and what I need.
I have this visual in my mind about two people meeting on a bridge. Each pulling with them a large bag behind them. Each person coming to the middle of the bridge and sitting crosslegged in the apex. Each person in turn pulling out things about themselves from their bag and being willing to show it to the other person. Each person saving parts of themselves that they think hard, difficult or unacceptable for last. Each time that one person offers up this part of themselves to the other, fearing the rejection and alienation that can and might come at any moment. But each person being willing to make a pile on their side for the thing about the other they can keep and those that they cannot.
Isn’t this what we are really doing the whole of our lives?
How many things are we leaving in the bag?
How many hostages have we taken in our relationships out of fear to really show what is in the bag - the bagged parts of ourselves controlling and dominating the relationship because that which remains unshared will find a way and manner for expression, always.
So I think it takes a lot of courage to do the work to value yourself enough to know all the parts hidden in the bag. It takes even more courage to sit face to face with another, honestly sharing all the petty little items in your life. All the things that make you, you. And offer them up, not in some sort of apologetic, embarrassed way, but in a humble, loving palming of your most honest and sincere desires to see if they can find a home in the heart of another.
In the end, it is really about acceptance more than love. Each of us possessing the ability to accept or reject things about the other that we will allow and things that we will not.
My leitmotif has been about lying. Failing to be willing and capable of being honest about all the things in my bag. A stubborn refusal to not share with you all the items. An ongoing manipulation of each relationship, which has only fostered a misguided, fear dominated relationship in the end.
I am changing my leitmotif. I am going to make it about honesty. I am going to summon the courage to tell you exactly what I think and feel. If you leave, that is ok. I get it. I do not want you to stay because I have prevented you from knowing and seeing the truth. I want you to be free to reject and decide for yourself whether or not you can live with me, the real me. If you go, or limit how close we can come together, I am ok with that because I finally and really get that you are just doing that which I have been too chicken to do: be the gatekeeper in my own life by living authentically and really in my own skin. Not allowing what you want from me to be the thing that I project to everyone. Finally being willing to allow you to see all the stuff in my bag and stand there, completely exposed while you decide if you can live with it or not.
And changing the focus from trying to get you to see that you really can accept it all and moving to a place where I am focusing on what you are saying and what you are not. What are you pulling out of your bag? What are you not? I can see it now, I was so afraid about my own revelation that I wholly missed yours...I lacked the ability to be present while you shared with me who you were which resulted in me being pretty shocked later on when I finally stopped being so afraid, and saw who was standing before me. It isn’t about the courage to love another, it is about the courage to be oneself while creating an environment safe enough for both people to unpack their bags and believe that rejection of some item in the bag doesn’t necessarily mean rejection of the person as bad or wrong. Just a simple, honest truth that perhaps the other person does not care to live with for the rest of their lives. And they get to decide that...only if I have the courage to stand my ground and own myself, for myself. And that seems like a much more sustainable and authentic leitmotif...
While it may not be easy to change dominant recurrent themes, we can if we will only begin.