FALLING IN LOVE WITH LOVE
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Diana Sandler
28th May, 2009
I realised at the age of forty, at the end of a sixteen year marriage and three children that I was in mourning. Not only for the end of my marriage, (and feeling a failure) both as a wife and a Mother but also the loss of my fantasies. Like Cinderella, I was waiting for Prince Charming to come and sweep me off my feet, transform my life and complete me.
I was brought up in the fifties when I was led to believe that the man waiting at the end of the aisle had all the answers. This for me was a Death of romantic expectations and the loss of a Family unit. (A double whammy).
So here I was hitting forty with three children, never having had a feeling of achievement and living in a close-nit community where my real self was obscured by what others thought of me.
I was stuck in a marriage that could not live up to my expectations, seeking love and excitement outside of myself, blaming everything and everyone outside of myself. I was a loveaholic, a shopaholic and a beautyaholic, in my naivety trying everything outside myself to fill the void. I needed to love myself unconditionally.
The next ten years were spent trying a variety of part-time jobs, part-time relationships, unreasonable goals and impossible dreams of perfection.
Finally, with the help of therapy, I was at last getting the picture of how I had set myself up to be let down and how I was looking for those fixes outside of myself to feel good. Although at times I was still looking for that quick fix to feel good about myself, the penny was beginning to drop, and through my own search for internal and emotional growth I have altered my ideals to something now more realistic, which supports me to allow those people I love to be imperfectly perfect with strengths and weaknesses like us all.
I am constantly working with Clients who keep getting into the same kind of unsuitable relationships, having the same kind of reactions, encountering the same kind of employers. The feeling is all about helplessness and not having any power in the relationship. It is about deeply rooted conflicts. This usually this boils down to feelings of low self-esteem and that they do not deserve any better.
The distressed partner feels so insecure and fearful of being alone, they take back the protagonist, or choose another equally unsuitable relationship, and eh voila it all goes pear shaped yet again, why are we surprised?
“Why do we do it?” seems to be the constant cry.
It is like an unconscious fit that can get physically and mentally very uncomfortable.
The unconscious fit here is the attraction of opposites.
So many couples admire in their partner something that is lacking in themselves. Especially in the first exciting and exhilarating months of a new relationship they so admire traits of their partners; their relaxed attitude to life, their partners taking control of everything, that opposite, often becomes the biggest challenge in their partnership.
They would allow their partners to be more important than themselves. It was more or less expected that a woman would create her relationship first and herself second. We seemed to get it all back to front.
They are giving over their power to someone else. They are frightened to express their needs, their feelings, their desires.
The moment you entrust your happiness to another person, you endanger the very possibility of happiness. Because you remove your own personal responsibility from the equation.
You say to the other person, you make me feel whole, complete, wanted. But the fact is:
Only you can make yourself feel whole or complete. Love shouldn’t be about dependency, or what you can do for me, or I need you/ you need me.”
Taken from the Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy.
My clients come into Therapy wanting to change their partner, and after one session realise that it is not possible to change someone else, and that is where the work begins.
Why are we attracted to men that remind us of our fathers, we are sometimes unconscious of this other unsuitable fit and even if your experience of your father was a negative one, you do still tend to attract that familiar persona back into your lives in the guise of a good Father.
So many of my Clients come to me with alcoholic or abusive partners. I only have to ask one question to get to the roots of their angst. “So tell me about your Father?”
Like addicts, we will draw toward us experiences that give us a fix.
Judith Viorst in her book Necessary Losses says “that no two adults can do each other more damage than a husband and wife".
And her poem from the same book seems to say it all, for me.
“We hate him because he hasn’t ended our separateness
We hate him because he hasn’t filled our emptiness
We hate him because he hasn’t filled our save-me, complete me mirror me, mother me yearnings
And we hate him because we waited all these years to marry daddy-
And he isn’t daddy.”
That is the challenge in romantic and sexual love. That is the work we have to undertake in order to claim our power, let go of our unreasonable expectations and alter our ideals to something more realistic and to allow those people we love to be imperfectly perfect with strengths and weaknesses like us all.
My motivation as a counsellor comes from my personal growth and my passion to put my Clients on a path of self-love, self- empowerment and self-awareness. The unique aspect of my work is my ‘falling in love with love’ relationship counselling. This focuses on relationship issues and communication skills in order for couples to find a way to achieve realistic goals before commitment and to form honest relationships so they can develop and blossom autonomously.
In to-days climate of internet dating there is no guidance as to how to continue moving forward with the relationship after the initial meeting.
I can support you to take your dating to the next level.
The key emphasis of my work is for us to become able to help ourselves to claim our power and to have a sense of self-awareness.
This can be achieved at a pace to suit each individual’s needs.
Whether someone wants to learn new skills, to look at family dynamics and step away from unhelpful habits and increase
Self-esteem, this integrated approach leaves no doubt that you can get more out of life by working with a good therapist than struggling alone.
It takes action to create change. You are never free to do as you please when you stay with the familiar. Be brave and take chances, let your inner strength take you somewhere else. Let go of clinging on. Life is too short. Start to appreciate the positive and let go of the negative and have gratitude for the strength to change. Inner strength and a strong belief system are our only life-lines.
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