Growing Up Together: How to love through personal growth

Many Generation Xers and Millennials are plagued with a “perpetual teenager” kind of feeling.  Not everyone, but some of us.  I know that my wounded places from childhood made me want to stay young and have fun for as long as possible as a way to make up for some of the sadness of my childhood.   Every time I made a big life decision, I felt like an innocent, looking around wide-eyed and hoping for the right advice.  I was forced to handle tough situations, but I never felt prepared.  Shell-shocked is a better description.

Part of growing up is taking responsibility for our inner and outer landscapes and asking ourselves honestly if someone else would feel at home in our emotional world and in our dwelling.   The youthful part of everyone’s soul wants an easy, drama-free, stress-free relationship.  We want to run at the first sign of dysfunction, and that is the right response in circumstances when any type of abuse is present.  However, when people are triggered and have effective communication skills, they can use these moments for personal growth. Marianne Williamson suggests that the early bliss of a relationship is just the taste “ that we will be willing to do the inner work necessary to climb back up there ourselves.”   The people who come into our lives are there to help us grow.

Williamson asserts that the holy, grown-up relationship begins when someone wants to walk with you and use the relationship to examine their own wounds and release these wounds.  However, both people must agree that this is what is occurring.  One person can’t say, “Yeah, that’s fine honey, you can work on your triggers and issues in our relationship.  I’ll stay here and watch you do that. I’m cool just as I am.”

People tend to be imbalanced in their inner and outer strength.  It is easy to meet someone with an outwardly successful life who lacks the interest and communication skills necessary to deepen the relationship, and it is easy to meet someone who is interested in spiritual matters but has an outer life in shambles, or at least in disarray.  Whichever area is your weakest area, work on that area first to bring more balance into your life.

Williamson’s work with The Course in Miracles addresses the purpose of romantic relationships in many beautiful ways.   I’ll briefly sum up the main points, but feel free to watch her recent video on this topic.

  1. Whether you are in a relationship or preparing for a relationship, the best work you can do is to deal with issues like control, anger, and neediness. Grasping at control is not sexy.  No one’s ideal mate is a desperate, needy, angry, withholding, or controlling person.  Non-violent communication is one of the ways to begin the process of talking without blame.
  2. Williamson humorously describes how after about thirty years of age, the extreme hormonal drives which can cause us to overlook messy environments and a lack of financial stability tends to diminish. We begin to see potential partners with a more realistic lens.  People need to feel good in your home and environment.  The power of Feng Shui, which suggests making your bedroom uplifting and beautiful, can lead to better sex.  Who doesn’t want that?  Clear out electronic equipment, clutter, messes, and add beautiful artwork and other embellishments that appeal pleasantly to the senses. If you hoard things, seek help and deal with this issue because when you are hoarder there is literally and energetically no room in your life for anyone else.
  3. Learn to re-frame your thinking. The greatest power you have in your world is to change your mind about it.  Instead of immediately making someone wrong, look inside yourself and say, “Do I have a hypersensitive reaction to this event or action?  Why?”  That is where your work begins, and if you have a supportive partner, this person will help you return to balance and lend you their emotional strength. Alternately, they might be triggered by some of your reactions and might need to look at how they react or avoid strong emotions in others.
  4. Keep calm and love yourself. Marianne Williamson didn’t say this, but I think she would agree.  Mature people handle disappointment with grace are not afraid to express what they want, even if they don’t get it.  I know from experience that my biggest regrets are simply not telling people how much I loved them.  My next biggest regret is not being kinder to myself through this life process.

One of the best ways to feel more grown up is to volunteer to help others on their journey.  You have the answers, skills, and peace that others might be seeking.  What you give away, eventually returns to you in some form.  Also, know that it is safe to grow up and be the authority in your life.  When you realize this, the journey and romantic relationships become easier.

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Tricia Barker

Tricia Barker experienced a profound near-death experience during her senior year of college, and this experience guided her to teach overseas, in public schools, and at the college level. National Geographic and A&E’s I Survived: Beyond and Back covered Tricia’s story. Currently, Tricia teaches English and Creative Writing at a beautiful community college in Fort Worth, Texas. Tricia’s memoir in-progress, Healed, chronicles the moment of her accident, her near-death experience, and other moments of trauma that affect many women. The book focuses on being of service to the world as one way to heal from trauma. Tricia’s poetry has been featured in The Binnacle, The Paterson Literary Review, and The Midwest Quarterly.

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