5 days ago
Monday, December 1, 2008
Single (the second in a series about relationship...)
(image from: uic.edu)
I'm finally adjusting to being single. Woo hoo!
Now, you can lower those raised eyebrows-- I'm not talking about my marital status! I'm talking about my sense of self. You see, unlike most people, I did not come into this world alone. I am a twin-- I have a twin brother. Since my first cell divided I have been with another. My first night sleeping outside the comfort of mom's womb, I was not alone. I was never just "me" in school-- I was "one of the twins" (kinda like "Seven of Nine"… ha!) So, it has shaped my sense of self in an unusual way.
When I first started dreaming of falling in love and getting married, I assumed that Mr. Right and I would have such a close bond that we would effortlessly know each other. I think my vision of a mate went beyond the typical best-friend and soulmate ideas, because I already knew what living as part of a pair entailed.
My brother and I were always together when playing. We helped each other throughout development. He made me laugh when I got frustrated. I pushed him around on a wheeled giraffe when I was first to walk. He fixed broken toys for me, I helped him with his homework. We often finished each other's sentences. And, to the frustration of my sisters, we frequently communicated nonverbally across the dinner table, laughing at unspoken jokes.
As we grew into the teenage years, we drifted apart, had different friends and different interests. I developed a strong, stable, healthy individual self. But my vision of a soulmate was already formed.
To make matters worse, I am an "Idealist" personality type. As Keirsey says in Please Understand Me II, Idealists are unique in their approach to mating. The other temperaments are realistic-- they assume their mates to be fallible. But Idealists look for "more than life partners in their mates-- they want soul partners, persons with whom they can bond in some special spiritual sense, sharing their complex inner lives and communicating intimately about what most concerns them: their feelings and their causes, their romantic fantasies and their ethical dilemmas, their inner division and their search for wholeness. Idealists firmly believe in such deep and meaningful relationships-- they will settle for nothing less-- and in some cases they try to create them where they don't exist." (Does this sound familiar those of you who are also Idealist types?)
Yep. That's what I did. But as I'm growing and experiencing life, I'm learning that such idealism does not lead to true intimacy. It can be taken too far. As much as an idealist would love to have a mate who fits their vision exactly, it is not reasonable or realistic. An idealist's vision of how things should be, can frustrate or even stifle others in their lives.
I've learned that for two to become one, they must first be two complete individuals. The early stages of a relationship feel like oneness, but that is fantasy. When a couple first falls in love they lower all internal boundaries and experience the feelings of merging with each other. Lovers often say that he/she "completes me". But this is not true oneness. True oneness can only develop over time. And the prerequisite is two complete people, each able to do all that relationship requires (according to Drs. Cloud and Townsend in Boundaries in Marriage ): give and receive love, be responsible, be independent and self-sufficient, live out values honestly, have self-confidence, deal with problems and failures, live out their talents, and have a life. My initial vision of a soulmate looked more like the merging of two incomplete people (very romantic, but not healthy!)
So, for the first time in my life I'm drawing boundaries around my "self" so that I can assess where I need to grow to become a more complete individual. It's exciting! I'm rediscovering the core of my self that is independent of any connections or relationships (a rather large task for me-- see part one). As I strengthen her, I will have more to give to others. And that is the basis for a true soulmate relationship!