It has been pointed out to me on a few occasions lately that I can be “difficult.” The vicissitudes of difficulty usually have to do with those around me feeling slighted. At these times I have been described as “condescending, disgusted” and other variations of that same theme. What is particularly interesting to me is that my internal experience is totally different than the other person’s perception. Depending on how safe I feel within myself or with the other, this excruciating provocation could be talked through or it could involve a premature dissolution of the relationship, depending on how the challenge is met. It occurs to me that this kind of incongruence can be happening all the time, and I thought I would explore, dismantle, transform and share about it. As I teach something, I integrate it more deeply into my own Work. Thank you for being a Witness to my process.

Initially, when confronted with this pattern, I felt a sense of liberation, both because I instantly recognized the source of this projection as well as how to transform it. I clearly remember being on the receiving end of this “expression” as my mother demonstrated this unconscious pattern frequently. There is a book that has recently come into circulation that was written by a comedian, the title of which says it all: If It Isn’t One Thing, It’s My Mother. This title expresses so well the primal relationship with one’s biological mother and the liberation that comes from resolving the issues that come up in this relationshiop.

34719_3379703924777_1591458156_nAs I began to delve deeply into this pattern in myself, I bumped into a certain level of shame. Shame is usually the culprit when one meets an unconscious pattern that has been repeatedly problematic in relationships. The fact that I have caused other people’s suffering as well my own elicited much sadness. Once I felt the sadness, I was able to move into a state of empathy. Empathy is the antidote to negative states of mind as well as the likely outcome once more difficult feelings are felt. I don’t mean to imply that reaching empathy is an easy process. It takes a good deal of internal work and maturity to reach this state. The process can be complicated if one has the pattern of becoming defensive. Defensiveness usually shows up as an anger reaction that is a manifestation of resistance. The common pitfall almost always has to do with shame being present. Once shame has been identified and felt fully, healing can proceed.

I’m fortunate to have done enough work on myself to not succumb to this insidious complication very easily. That doesn’t mean that in my quiet moments with myself I don’t struggle with a level of self-hatred. Fortunately I am able to work through that privately so that the interpersonal relationship doesn’t become impeded in the moment. My goal is to spend less time in this state of self-hatred than before, and I notice that this intention seems to be manifesting well in my practice.

Much of the conflict that shows up in interpersonal relationships needs to be worked out internally. Knowing one’s own triggers is vitally important, and shadow work is essential in understanding the pitfalls that are sure to befall all intimate relationships. My triggers often have to do with becoming afraid. I’ve covered this frequently in my past blog entries; fear has been a trusty traveler along my journey toward healing. Fear is usually the culprit in most of my relational breakdowns. In processing the latest version of this pattern in a very valuable relationship in my life, I, much to my surprise, recovered a memory from high school. I can remember being told when someone unfamiliar to me and I had a meaningful interaction, that she (it was always a SHE) “didn’t realize how nice you were, I thought you were a snob!” Even at that level of awareness, I recognized the significance of this memory. The word I used to describe my emotional state at the time was, “shy.” I realized even then that this pattern was operant and that “fear” was more encompassing than “shy.” Of course I went through many years of being afraid of my fear. In our culture, fear is demonized. I suspect it is demonized because fear is very much a part of the collective human shadow and when it is unconscious, fear is often met with more fear.

In physical therapy the other day, when being transferred to my stationary bicycle, I had a revelation. I shared with Harald a very significant insight, the depth of which surprised me. I asked him to remember a game we probably all played earlier in life, where one person would stand in front of another and fall backwards in total trust that the other would catch him or her. Harald remembered doing this with an expression of joy mixed with trepidation on his face. I told him that this is what my life is like on a minute-to-minute basis. It occurs to me that this sort of life curriculum can only be necessary when mastering a significant feeling like FEAR. It is times like that when I feel tremendous gratitude for my particular process.

During my marriage ceremony in 2004, my friend, Alexandria, proclaimed, “Aliyah’s life has always been about transformation.” I didn’t realize how true this was at the time. Most of my adult life has been spent being a student or a teacher and often both at the same time. I feel so much gratitude in my heart for the wise people in my life, my friends, my children, the caregivers. Each encounter allows me to practice this Sacred process of intimacy that never ceases to take me to my depths and which makes it possible for me to reach my heights.