Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sublimate never

The lovely Sharon, our PM correspondent from Pacific NW HQ in Portland, wired me this last week, and it was beyond pertinent and totally worth sharing this thoughtful memo:

"You know what the one piece of advice is that I wish more mothers told their daughters?

"You are not a better girlfriend if you prevent your boyfriend from feeling anxiety or pain. You are not a better girlfriend if you make sure they are happy all the time. Their feelings are not your responsibility.

"But beyond that, child... If you guard them, it only shows your disrespect for that person. It implies that you can care for them better than they can care for themselves. And where is the equality in that? And do you really want a relationship based on inequality?

"You can't shield them. You can't protect them. And they might not shield and protect you either. But don't leap to conclusions! This is an opportunity to remember that people do not protect us because they assume we have the skills to take care of our own hurt. Do it. Care for yourself when you hurt. Heal yourself.

"You cannot protect each other and sometimes people will become aware of terrible truths in their own lives [about who they are and who they are not]. But you can support each other and care for each other in those tender moments when you are at less than your best. You can approach each other with grace and strive to understand the experience of the other.

"You can be present."

Yeah. Thanks, moms. That's what we all need to hear when it comes to lessons on emotional boundaries and how not to shrink yourself to make your partner feel emotionally comfortable.

Because we all know - there's nothing worse - nothing more soul sucking or life draining - than sublimating your feelings to enable someone's insecurities or to avoid someone's inability to deal with emotions in a healthy way. You might be avoiding conflict by not erupting their reactive outbursts, or protecting your fear of conflict, ...but what else are you turning a blind eye to?

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