“The only real conflict you will ever have in your life won’t be with others but with yourself.”
Shannon L. Alder
Let’s sort this out, you and I.
“I” have been so deeply hungry to be loved by “You.” I have watched your emotionless face, sometimes your hysterical face, look at me thinking, “Don’t you love me?” I felt the empty, sinking dread of realizing that, perhaps, you don’t. It affected my sense of self. I thought if I just left you and found another “You,” it would all be better. Then, I’d find myself in the same predicament again.
We play this game, don’t we? The game of you and I. I need you to love me more. You complain too much. I don’t feel like you give me enough. You get so angry that I feel trapped. I can’t remember the last time you made me happy.
We play this game as if someone can win. And what happens when someone wins?
When “I” get “You” to do whatever it is that I tell you will make me happy, does it make me happy? Does it really? Instantaneously and immediately? Forever?
You know, like I know, that “You” cannot really do anything for me. “You” cannot fix my pain. Sometimes, “I” get these little strange glimpses of reality. I feel like your behavior has nothing to do with my reactions, like I’m stuck in some vortex all on my own and everything that I blame on you is actually not your fault. “I” get these, don’t I? But I discount them easily for my powerful fear-fueled emotions.
“I” fear abandonment. I fear isolation. I fear rejection, stagnation, and judgment.
I hope that “You” will not inflict these upon me and, for a while, you don’t. And then you do. I’m crestfallen. I search for another “You.”
I played this game too, until I realized—well, “I” realized—that “You” and “I” are no different. “I” treat every “You” the same. I love you only as much as I love myself.
What “I” love about “You” is what I love about me. What I dislike about you is what I dislike about me. What I fear about you doing is what I fear about me doing to you, to myself. There is no “You” to blame for anything. There is only me. Only “I.” And, within that “I,” there is every “You.”
So when I search for the perfect “You,” what I’m really searching for is myself. I’m searching for the “I” to love me, accept me, connect to me. What I deeply crave is to look in the mirror, every day, and feel powerful, unconditional love. What I really want is to be happy and feel confident, no matter who’s around or where I am. When I beg you to listen to me, I’m begging for me to listen to myself.
My relationship with myself will always precede my relationship with any “You” for I am the measuring stick against which I hold each and every human being. Compared to a rock or a monkey, “You” are my identical twin. I will only give “You” as much as I give myself, whether love or punishment, whether judgment or acceptance.
You are my greatest tool of self-awareness because, in you, I see myself.
So, maybe, today “I” will stop blaming “You.” I will take a moment to look at myself and realize, truly and completely, who it is that I’m angry at, who it is that I deeply crave to be loved by, and who it is that’s really neglected me all this time. It’s not “You.” It is only me.