As women we are no longer in a society where we cannot exist without a man. Men have never really been trumped by these rules – they could always live without a woman. Procreation aside the idea of this article is to talk about having a relationship to self. Feeling an urge to be married is passé . We are all able to get an education, hold down a job, pay our bills, buy houses and cars. Yet as we continue to have many with ultra conservative thinking in our society, and mothers and grandmothers continue to focus on grooming girls (and even boys) for marriage, women and men are still desperate to find “the one.”
The one is you. If you have no consciousness of self first then you will not be able to choose another. Too much crap will be in the way of making a responsible decision. This is the reason why women are still looking for James Dean types and men are still looking for “the one who got away.” Neither of these marriage partners will be right for you because you will never change them. If they got away guys, that is for good reason. They knew you weren’t right for them. Don’t be fooled into thinking some excuse about how they weren’t ready or you scared them away and “if only…” She just wasn’t into you – to quote another. Or she actually trusted her instincts.
The one must be you first and I think the Talmud makes the most important reference in its holy writings when it says “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
So many times when I look into the eyes of young people I have worked with, I see this glazed look that comes over their face. It means they are not here, they just exist. When I mean here I mean really knowing your existence. What do you want out of life? What will you want five years from now? (Being conscious that what you want now won’t be the same 5 or even ten years from now, and so on.) How will you go about getting what you want? How will you go about making sure obstacles do not get in your way? (uh this is where the words birth control comes into the picture – this is the only real obstacle you have a choice about).
People with the glazed look over their face may be you. It means that when you were 20 something (or now if you are), most likely you married too early or had a baby out-of-wedlock. It means that you had or have no clue about the future, only that you will keep working because you have no other choice (or so you believe [d]). Life is over as far as you are concerned because you take each day as it comes without being at cause of what happens. Usually this is the single parent who lives on own forever raising the kids or marries someone for the sake of not being alone and tells everyone that “he is good with the kids.” Once the kids leave the house, they have no idea what to do with their life.
Then there are the people who have a plan. They know they will go to college and do. They use birth control because children are not part of their plan right now. They work hard to make money while in school to set aside for when they get their degree. Everything is mapped out, including the person they will marry once they have finished college. These people have it made except one thing. While they are on the right track, often (not always), the partner becomes part of the plan. When she/he fits the bill 1. makes the right amount of money or has the right connections, 2. looks good in society, 3. has the same goal as you in regards to plans for life and family. So this person meets the person that looks good and fits right into their scheme of things and then 5-10-20 years later they can’t take it anymore and have an expensive divorce.
Now that you see what I mean, let’s go back to relationship to self. Most everyone fits into the categories above. A married woman I used to work with would say all the time that she envied me because I was older and knew what I wanted from a relationship. She stated that she loved her husband BUT, she knows that if she were making choices in a partner now, it would be so much different. She brought this statement up almost all the time with me when we went on long work trips together. I felt sad for her because I understood exactly what she meant. She wouldn’t leave her husband, because she did love and care for him after two decades of a life together that they had built. However, she wasn’t really happy in life. She probably wondered what it would be like to be with a man who she truly had an intellectual connection to. This is what happens to all of us when we get to the stage where we begin to look around us and begin to know exactly what it is that we really want in life. It is when divorces happen, cheating begins, people visit therapists and we enter an identity crisis. What do we do?
If you aren’t 20 something, you can’t go backwards in time, you can only face what you are realizing now. The rest of your life is going to make so much more sense. If you are 20 something, you have the potential to be the person you want to be right now at a young age.
Remember: if you don’t have a relationship with self, you will always be with the wrong partner.
How to be conscious of self:
1. Spend time figuring out what you want in life. Get a notebook and think about what you really want in the world (don’t focus on your children if you have them). Make a collage of your goals so that you can see them in front of you when you wake up each day. Have an affirmation that you can focus on. (you can get affirmations from the author Louise Hayes).
2. Don’t be obsessed with a partner. Spend more time with same-sex friends to begin to understand your gender more.
3. If you are a woman read: Marianne Williamsons “A Woman’s Worth,” and for older women Jean Shinoda Bolen’s “Goddesses in Every Woman.” If you are a man, I understand that Sam Keene’s book “Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man,” comes highly recommended by Ms. Williamson.
4. Open your eyes and begin to experience the world around you. Smell the flowers. Touch the bark on trees. Walk barefoot on the grass. Think about the Earth and the life of nature you are touching and smelling and seeing. Think of your relationship to nature. Take time to taste the food you are eating and for goodness sakes EAT HEALTHY!!! Use your senses to awaken your consciousness.
5. Question your faith. I don’t mean go away from it, just think about what it is you believe in and what does it all mean? Don’t just follow the path each day/week without understanding what it is that the text is saying. I don’t mean learn it by rote either and I certainly don’t mean well our minister/priest/rabbi, says… What do you think? What does the phrase mean when it says X, Y, and Z? How does this effect you?
6. Embrace the arts. Whatever your genre is whether it be art, movies, plays, operas, books, etc… Never done this? Begin. Choose an art by exploring different ones and then really focus on the piece (you like) and think about what it is saying. Already doing these things? Do the same thing. Focus on it. What is happening in the piece that reflects on your life?
All of these things will begin to get you involved in your self. When you begin to understand what it is that you want out of life, you will begin to see yourself. You don’t want a partner until you want yourself. You can’t love someone else until you can truly embrace your own self-worth.