Considering relationships

For various reasons, I’ve spent a good deal of time in the last few weeks pondering relationships. Some of that time was focused on specific relationships and digging deep to try to figure out what I wanted and needed from those relationships. Some of that time has been focused on figuring out what I want the state of my overall network of relationships to look like. And some of it has been focused on trying to define what an ideal relationship with a significant other would look like for me.

Ironically, this same period of time has been filled with more connecting with others than I typically encounter in a similar amount of time. There have been quite a number of unexpected reconnections with people I seldom talk to anymore: a long phone conversation with an old friend who may actually come to visit for the first time since I’ve lived here, an email from a graduate school classmate who came across my contact information through his work leading him to my work’s website, kind Facebook comments from friends I don’t often talk to, a couple of acquaintances asking for help from my new business and indicating a desire for a deeper friendship with me, and a veritable deluge of contact with other friends whom I have not heard from in some time. It’s also been a time of making new connections with a long-awaited small group finally starting this week, and meeting a few new people in various places (in-person and online). This coming weekend will be filled with even more opportunities to meet new people and to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances.

All of this contemplation mixed with these experiences has been a helpful experience. Of all of the areas in my life, the status of my relationships is the weakest area, I think. My support system is exceedingly small, and I’ve known for quite a long time that this is an area that needs my attention. The problem is that I have not done a very good job at figuring out what I want from my relationships before heading out to try “fix” things.

I still don’t have all of the answers, but I am finding that there are a lot of things shifting for me in the way I look at relationships—what I want and need from them, the kinds of relationships I desire to have, and even how I look at myself in response to the relationships I am in. Oddly enough, the process of considering what I want from relationships with other people has taught me an incredible amount about myself. This may be the first time I’ve considered in real depth what I want from my entire spectrum of relationships—from work connections to acquaintances to friends to family to a lover to a chosen tribe. It’s definitely the first time I’ve had enough detachment to really listen to my gut tell me what I want and need from these relationships rather than listening to the conventional wisdom about what I should want and need.

I’ve also discovered that I have stirred this conventional wisdom up with a whole big batch of my own shadow stuff to give what has clearly been a recipe for disaster. It’s no wonder this part of my life isn’t working well! I’m still not quite ready to share to all that I’ve learned because it’s not quite yet at a place where I can put it all into words, but it’s just one more area where I feel like the ground is shifting rapidly under my feet. The shifts are good ones and I can feel myself moving in healthier directions, but it’s also unsettling to feel so much moving and not be able to fully define it yet.

It’s like trying to watch a building being renovated in the fog—I can hear the sounds of the work being done, I can catch glimpses of what is happening, I can feel the ground shake as things shift, but I can’t really see the changes taking place. They are just beyond my grasp. I suspect that when the fog clears, I will discover that I am no longer recognizable to myself in this area, and I think that will be a very good thing.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.