Many years ago I was at a party given by my former partner. I had not really recovered from our break-up and so I was still feeling very sorry for myself, even more so because she was now beginning another relationship. Seeing my distress she took a quiet moment to be with me and she said some words that were a trigger for me to begin to question all that I had ever learned about relationships. Her words were “are you depending on me for your happiness?”.
I did not say anything but inside I was shocked – she had seen through all the dependency that I was calling love! Yet I could not bring myself to be angry with her because the words were said with gentleness and love and part of me knew it was time to grow up.
My former partner was an avid reader of Anthony de Mello and her words could have been taken out of his book “Awareness”:
“How liberating it is not to depend emotionally on anything. If you could get one seconds experience of that, you’d be breaking through your prison and getting a glimpse of the sky. Someday, maybe, you may even fly”
“I remember how frightened I was to say to an intimate friend of mine, “ I really do not need you. I can be perfectly happy without you. And by telling you this I find I can enjoy your company thoroughly – no more anxieties, no more jealousies, no more possessiveness, no more clinging. It is a delight to be with you when I am enjoying you on a non clinging basis. You’re free; so am I.”
I had discovered A Course in Miracles only a few months previously so I had obviously no idea yet about its teaching on special love relationships.
From that moment onwards my intimate relationships were no longer quiet so special. I had understood that my pain was caused not by the another person but by the way I was using them to make me feel good. I was no longer quite so enamoured with the cycle of “falling in love” and then luxuriating in the pain of the breakup.
A Course in Miracles helps us see that because our choice for special love is a substitute for our true love relationship with out creator it has to involve a lot of pain. Our triumph of getting the special love that we believe God denied us gives us an initial wonderful feeling but ultimately is both an attack on our true identity and on God and therefore it can only reinforce guilt. Our reinforced guilt is unconscious and so we are usually only aware of it when others no longer fulfil our needs and then our special love turns to the special hate that it always was.
Another way of looking at special love relationships is to see they are based on an inner lack or need that the Course calls the scarcity principle. Our identification with the ego tells us we can fill this inner sense of emptiness by finding someone who will satisfy our bodily and psychological needs. Once we believe this we don’t realise that using others to get what we want is really attack on them because we are not seeing them as they truly are.
One more obvious point about special love relationships that they simply do not work! They may seem to work for a while but deep down we know it is pointless to think that something external can really bring us true happiness. Others are never enough to heal the deep pain we are feeling because we believe have lost our true innocence. We also end up resenting the people we depend upon to get our needs met because they are a reminder of our inner lack. As psychology teaches: Dependency breeds contempt.
The good news is that we can choose again by choosing to look with the Jesus of A Course in Miracles at what we are really up to. We need to use the pain of the ego’s way of relating to motivate us to want to choose the miracle and see that others are not the cause of our happiness or distress.
In our minds we are responsible for how we feel and this is good news because then we are never again at the mercy of external relationships that we can never control no matter how hard we try.
“For the special love relationship, in which the meaning of love is hidden, is undertaken solely to offset the hate, but not to let it go. Your salvation will rise clearly before your open eyes as you look on this. You cannot limit hate. The special love relationship will not offset it, but will merely drive it underground and out of sight. It is essential to bring it into sight, and to make no attempt to hide it.” T-16.IV.3-7