In order to maintain your most important relationship, where you honour the phrase “to thine own self be true”, you must really know what is true for you. Recently, I had one of those ah-ha moments, and it both amused and informed me. It made so much sense that I wondered that I hadn’t put it together before.
Once upon a time, as a young single woman, I was playing cards with a friend. Getting bored, we decided to make a bet and the loser had to do a chore for the other. I have no idea what I agreed to do if I lost, but as the winner I do recall that my friend agreed to clean my apartment. She did a great job, every surface shone and not a thing was out-of-place. It was very nice, very appreciated and very unlike my usual style.
Part two of the story is where this set of circumstances set the foundation for years of misunderstandings, upset and arguments. Picture my new boyfriend coming to visit. He looks around, appreciates the very tidy and clean apartment and draws the silent conclusion that this is the way I always live, that it is my way of being. It was not and is not.
As I write this piece, there is a sink full of dirty dishes, a floor that needs sweeping, and clothes to be put away. I am very comfortable leaving those chores until this writing is done. It will get done, but it does not weigh on me. I have come to understand that for some, and I was married to one of them for twenty-nine years, it is the same sensation as fingernails down a chalkboard. Intolerable.
The healthiest relationships start with self understanding and acceptance
Why does this matter? Because if we don’t know, understand and accept ourselves, we can hardly begin to form healthy, functioning relationships with others. If the “way I am”, is very different from the “way you are” we either find a middle ground and a way to negotiate the differences, or we limit the relationship.
In this period of transition, after the end of a twenty-nine year marriage, I have begun to unravel what I thought I knew about myself. My challenge is to create a kinder, and more loving relationship with myself. Single or in a relationship, parent or not, to really succeed in any relationship, it is best if you know who you are. What matters, what doesn’t, and what’s negotiable.
As you know, I read a lot and where I can, I converse at a deep level, with people willing to “go there” with me. Books, blogs, articles and conversations, all help me better understand myself and the world in which we live. On this journey of “me, myself and I”, I want to better understand myself in and out of a relationship. The information is from all sources – business people, comedians, psychologists, coaches and friends. All helping to uncover what is hidden from my view or the missing pieces I want to develop.
One of the books I stumbled across, is a slim little book called – The Compatibility Matrix: The Qualities of Your Ideal Mate, by Heather Collins Grattan and Joseph Cristiano. When reading through the chapters, based on an acronym of R.E.S.P.E.C.T, I could only smile and shake my head. One of the letters stood for “Environment”, as in how do you like your personal surroundings. Well, that provided the ah ha moment and the understanding of where things went off the rails in that aspect of the marriage.
It seems a small thing, yet no one does well if their personal surroundings don’t match what it is they need. So simple and yet I understood why we couldn’t resolve it. It would mean that we would have to change a fundamental aspect of who we were or accept what was and find a way to negotiate. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t relax about it all and he couldn’t understand why I didn’t see the folly of my ways.
Self-discovery allows you to live authentically
The period of self – discovery, and that truly is what it has been, is perhaps the biggest gift I have given myself. As I become more free to be me and to understand the how, why and when I have let myself down by not being true to myself, I can see all the ways in which I can now emerge as the best version of myself.
Relationships, old and new, will benefit from this self-knowledge. All any of us can do, in fact what we must do, is be true to ourselves. When we are, we have so much to offer the world.
Do you have an “ah ha” you would like to share? Please do, we are all a part of the collective journey.