Saturday, November 22, 2014

Understanding My Special Relationships

I had always thought a special relationship was the closest thing I could get to having a human experience that mimicked the perfect God-Human relationship. A special relationship was love and marriage, Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. But, that never worked for me. The closer I seemed to get to someone, the more intense and disturbing things became. The closer someone was to me, as I understood me, the more I was vulnerable and ended up being hurt, angry, disappointed or frustrated. My special relationships more closely resembled the movie, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff.”
What was going on? What was wrong with that picture?
In my recovering from alcoholism, I got a glimpse of what was wrong. I heard people in AA meetings say over and over: “We don’t have relationships. We take hostages.” Everyone would laugh. Then, as I began to write my Fourth Step (“… an honest moral inventory of myself…”), I began to discover how true that adage had been for me.
In the end all my relationships had been all about me – all about being the perfect giver of love and nurture and, in doing that, being in control. In short, my relationships had been all about self-image and self-satisfaction. They never lasted very long. I would begin to run out of gas. I would try to be an occasional receiver of love and nurture – but I didn’t know how to ask for love and nurture and, by definition, the one I was in a relationship with was someone who didn’t know how to give love and nurture. In my mind the perfect special relationship was one where I HAD to be the “giver” and she HAD to be the “receiver.” That’s how my control was intended to work and, when it stopped working, the relationship always crashed and burned.
After almost 20 years in my current rrelationship, I’m still discovering portions of that lesson I still need to revisit.
In A Course in Miracles (ACIM) specialness and a special relationship are defined as: [Specialness is] “The idea of being set apart from others and set above others. Having more or being more than others. Specialness is the great payoff promised by the ego. We seek [specialness] in our special relationships, where others give us special love and their special selves…. We seek [specialness] with our body, adorning our body in order to attract [specialness]. We also seek it by accumulating idols…. All ways of seeking [specialness] involve attack, for specialness requires that others must be beneath us….  A [special] relationship [is] based on the pursuit of specialness, in which we try to (a) have a special arrangement (an exclusive relationship) with and (b) receive special treatment from (c) a very special person so that (d) we can feel more special…. To keep our allegiance, the ego must provide something that offers a semblance of the love we really want, yet is still of the ego….
We can describe this relationship in stages: 1. First we search for a person different from the rest, one who is more special…. 2. Then we offer him special behaviors and gifts that give him our specialness and, ultimately, give him our ‘self.’ These ‘gifts,’ however, are attacks designed to make her guilty and so induce her to give her ‘self’ in return. 3. We (almost certainly) do not receive from him the specialness we think we paid for, so we resort increasingly to taking vengeance on him for not reciprocating….”   [Robert Perry, Glossary of Terms from A Course in Miracles, Circle Publishing, 1996]
I don’t know about you, but those definitions of “Specialness” and “Special Relationships” have pegged me right where it hurts. It was as if Robert Perry looked into my soul and concluded: “Don provides a pretty generic and accurate description of everything there is about Specialness and its Relationships.”
The definition of a Special Relationship continues, however, with a fourth stage, which states: “The Holy Spirit, however, would not deprive us of these relationships or have us throw them away. He would transform them into holy relationships through forgiveness…. [Our special relationships] are holy relationships-in-training…,” if we are but willing to turn them over to the Holy Spirit.
In Alcoholics Anonymous the Big Book [page 417] discusses much the same thing: “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” [From the story entitled: Acceptance Was The Answer]
Bottomline? As I’ve said to myself and in these messages over and over, it’s not what’s “out there” that bothers me. It is how I perceive what’s “out there.” Do I see the other as an attacker or as another version of me? Do I see the situation as an aggravation or as an opportunity to see inside me? Do I respond or react?
As it always is, it always is an inside job.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#4 November 2014
Copyright, 2014

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