I discovered that I had a piece of work to do on expressing genuine love and affection when I’m angry or hurt – I would go into my ego and get into some all or nothing thinking where I couldn’t give my partner a real warm hug for example when I was feeling hurt or angry. It would take me a while to warm up to him after there had been some discord between. I don’t think that has to be the case, nor do I think it’s a very strong demonstration of the depth of my love for this person. I want to be a person who has a heart that is more open than that – I’d like to be a person who doesn’t play games, however unconsciously with my love and trust myself to not withhold my love from my partner when we’re having a problem.

Further to that point – I realized that I had a hard time identifying the feeling or experience of true, deep, mature love – I seemed only to be able to identify sensations of happiness or approval and sensations of hurt/sadness/anger or disapproval – so if I wasn’t feeling the happy/approval thoughts I would assume that perhaps I’m not loving this person anymore and so I would feel inauthentic hugging him or expressing my love as openly and freely as I would have a moment before the disagreement. As I became aware of this pattern I also became aware that I was doing what Pinkola-Estes spoke of: Namely, I was seeing the death stage of my relationship and judging it as bad or wrong and then withdrawing and protecting myself from the “inevitable” end of the relationship. I didn’t know about the next life phase because it had never been modeled to me and I hadn’t experienced it myself. I really didn’t have a clue what deep, true, committed love was so there was naturally a difficulty in me feeling open and connected and loving through tough times.

As I recognized this I knew that I wanted to have a sensation or thought of solid, mature, deep, love that was present for my lover regardless of what poopy event was taking place in him, in me or between us. This meant I had to stay tuned! I had to hang in there as openly as I could for the next phase of rebirth and life. Then the true love would be present. Then I would actually have something deeper than my romantic, on and off again love to carry me through the rough patches. It’s no wonder I didn’t have the ability to feel warm and loving towards my partner during those early times of distress. For me there really wasn’t anything deeper to hold on to. Not because I lacked the ability to love more deeply but because I had never experienced it and hadn’t yet accessed that part of myself.

I also began to recognize in myself (big ego here) that I would say or do things specifically to try and impress my love. Funnily enough it was often these things that he later brought back to me as things that he felt hurt or disappointed by or felt demonstrated a lack of integrity in my or respect for him etc. I would do things like point out my ex-boyfriends car (fancy black thing) when we drove by his building (only did that once by the way! but I did it not for any other reason than I thought it would impress my sweetheart and make him find me more of a good catch) – yes, I admit it! I behaved like a 10 year old more often than I’d like to admit. I’m half cringing/half laughing as I admit this but it does need to be said and most importantly, worked through and left behind. It seemed that every time I did or said something that was meant (from a very gamey/insecure place I’ll admit) to make my sweetheart love or want me more it would actually disgust or offend him. In hindsight I can absolutely understand why those things didn’t go over well, if not only because of the insecurity and lack of groundedness I was revealing to him in needing to prove my worth – let alone the silly things I was saying and doing to try and impress him. The most interesting thing for me about that pattern was that a moment before I would say or do one of those silly things I would hear my higher self saying “um, Michelle, you probably don’t want to say this” and I’d have a strange feeling in my tummy but I’d say it anyway and lo and behold we’d have a disagreement or at the very least my sweetheart would have reason to step back and wonder about the health of our connection.

This of course being the exact opposite effect from what my 10 year old self was trying to achieve which was this: I wanted to be so incredibly desirable; so incredibly perfect, and wonderful, and fabulous, and irreplaceable, that he could not possibly ever consider leaving me. You see, on some unconscious level, I believed that if he would never leave then I would finally have the safety and security that I so craved since I was a little girl and my father abused and then abandoned me. That little girl was still believing on some level that it was something about her that wasn’t good enough and that she just needed to be prettier, thinner, smarter, funnier, wealthier etc. etc. and then no one would ever leave her. Well, surprise, surprise, people did leave her – leave me. And they were right to. I was confused. I was inauthentic. I was manipulative. I was desperate and needy and I placed the responsibility for my happiness on them rather than owning it myself.

For me this pattern could begin to change only when I realized that I was “good enough” already. I am perfect just as I am. I wasn’t responsible for what happened way back when; for how my father did or didn’t love me. That was his stuff, I couldn’t have done anything any differently and I couldn’t have influenced his behaviour and “make” him stay or not be harmful. It wasn’t about me, therefore, I didn’t need to keep carrying the story that I wasn’t good enough. Therefore, I could drop the games. I could centre and ground myself in me and see myself as a person of worth a deservedness and love and beauty regardless of who was or wasn’t in my life. Only at that point did I become a healthy and safe person to have a relationship with, before then ……not so good!

All this is to say that through the experience of coming face to face, time and again with the death cycle of relationship these pieces of growth work (my unfinished business), were revealed to me. As I opened myself to their message and stepped up to do my work my relationships got healthier and finally had the chance to deepen into something worthwhile and lasting. I couldn’t have had a healthy, loving and lasting relationship prior to this moment because I didn’t know what was alive in me that was preventing my connections from being deep, intimate and healthy. Now that I knew I could do my work. In having these realizations, some only very recently, my authentic self could finally settle down and relax. It could let go and trust me to handle relationships in a mature and respectful way (for me and my partner) and not in the old co-dependent way. That in itself my friends, is well worth the price of admission!

Have a great day out there and should the death cycle rear its head in your romantic partnership – don’t run the other way – embrace it, love it, revel in it, thank it, for it is the doorway to something beautiful.

Author's Bio: 

CEDRIC Centre founder Michelle Morand is a recovered compulsive eater and counsellor with over 17 years of experience in the field of recovery from eating disorders such as compulsive eating, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, as well as casual factors such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Author of 'Food is not the Problem: Deal With What Is', Morand is a skilled educator and lecturer and frequently appears at live health shows, on radio and V, and in print media. Michelle is the editor for Insights Into Clinical Counseling (IICC) and won the BC Association for Clinical Counsellors 2010 & 2011 Communications Award which recognizes a member or individual/organization from the media field who has provided regular, continuing, or special assistance in promoting counselling and/or mental health issues in the community.

Visit The CEDRIC Centre website and sign up for the free newsletter at http://www.cedriccentre.com