Recognizing The Space Within

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection over the last several weeks.  What was supposed to be a week long break from writing, has turned into a month of radio silence and while I am still trying to sort a few things out, if I am to be honest I have missed my outlet.

I have a rabid tendency of getting stuck in my own head and overthinking things.  While this tendency has been a partner of mine for some time now, I have noticed in more recent months that it has ramped its game up significantly.    Just a few days ago, Ian and I were discussing another international teaching opportunity that had presented itself to me, and part way through the conversation Ian stopped me and told me I was overthinking things.  Again.

I used to have the capacity to make decisions with a bit of overthinking thrown in for good measure.  It seems now though, that as soon as a decision is presented, my mind clicks into warp speed and it can be difficult to find my footing.

While still in the mire of trying to sort a few things out, I have noticed one significant change in my perspective.  For the first time in a very long time, I feel consistently hopeful. I’ve had small moments of hope throughout the last 4 months, maybe, but they haven’t stayed with me very long.

It feels a bit different this time.  I’ll try to explain it as best I can.

When I get into relationships, I have come to learn, I like to give my power to the other person.  This isn’t necessarily restricted to my more intimate relationships, but they seem to be the ones where I really give it away and struggle with reclaiming it.  It isn’t an instantaneous thing.  Interestingly enough, I am able to go for the first little while of a new relationship maintaining my power-in that I keep it.  I don’t freely give it away.  Within a few months though, I can be found serving it up on a platter to the other person.  I don’t just share it, or provide small rations of it; I give it up entirely.  What does this look like?  It often involves me relinquishing my own decision making skills to the other person.  I am more likely to go along with their choices and preferences.  I grow more quiet as I am so desperate to please the other.

I should point out here that in none of my relationships has my relinquishing of my power been voraciously demanded or expected of me.  In some of the less great relationships I have been a part of, my then partners have certainly taken advantage of the giving over of power, but at no point in any relationship-healthy or otherwise-has it been demanded of me.

When the relationship changes in dynamic, or comes to a close, I often flail around feeling overwhelmingly lost and devastated for a period of time.

Then something amazing happens.  After being adrift, I go through an incredibly significant  period of growth.  I reclaim my power, and I reinvest in myself.  I start doing the things I enjoy doing.  The feelings of being lost and crippled are replaced by an incredible sense of independence and a really lovely assurance in myself.  I feel capable and competent.  I feel strong and resilient.  I even begin to like myself.

I have had a few of these growth periods throughout my life.  The onset to them is often a shift in the dynamic of a significant relationship.

I’m aware that I am about to enter into another period of growth, and while it provides me with the aforementioned sense of hope, and even some excitement, I’ve also realized a few things about my approach to these periods.  As is often the case, it has been through some really interesting and profound conversations with Ian that this epiphany has reached me.

I’ve briefly mentioned it in an earlier blog, but for the sake of what I am fleshing out here, I’ll make mention of it again:  Ian has now left for Mexico and the dynamic of our relationship is undergoing a shift with the geographic distance between us.

This shift has been something I have struggled with greatly over the last 5 or so months.  There was a time over the summer where even thinking about the change that was to happen would momentarily cripple me.  While I’ve only known Ian for 2 years, my relationship with him has been one of those life-changing ones: profound and intimate and full of respect and love.  A relationship that has largely driven my desire to be a better version of me.  To change and grow.

To enter into a period of unknown and uncertainty now, with him geographically distanced from me has been unnerving and a bit heartbreaking.

About a month ago though, my perspective on the upcoming change shifted.  I found the intense emotional wave that would hit me whenever I thought of his leaving, lessened.  Eventually that wave stopped crashing into me.  I grew hopeful, as I thought back to other times in my life when a relationship evolved and I grew as a result.

I shared this thought with Ian about a week ago, and he brought some interesting insights to my attention.

For one of these periods of intense growth to happen for me, I almost have to be forced into the situation.  My arm has to be proverbially twisted.  It’s not necessarily voluntary and there is tremendous discomfort and unease that often prefaces them.  Still though, I am aware of what is on the other side of the momentary discomfort, and for me it makes it worth it.

As I was relaying this to Ian last week, he asked me why I had to wait for one of these moments to impose itself on me, before allowing the growth period to set in.  I replied that I wasn’t sure … in some instances it seemed easier to do when the other person was either no longer in my life, or was not as accessible to me as they once were.

Ian then shared with me, that from his perspective it tied back in with my own personal power and how I give it so freely to others.  Nathalie has brought this idea up now during both of my sessions with her-that I relinquish my power to others.  In our first session together, Nathalie told me that, on an energetic level, I was coming across as incredibly small.  Almost like a shrivelled up grape.  I seek and expect others to fill the space within me, rather than do it myself.  As Nathalie pointed out in our last session together, I need to work on getting to a place where I can be in relationship with someone else, but understand that the relationship and the other person are not what makes me whole.  The relationship may enhance my life, but without it, I am equally as whole and fine.  Its success or failure, and the regard of the other person do not define me.

Ian and I further discussed his idea that I didn’t necessarily have to wait for him to get on a plane before taking my power back.  I could do it anytime I chose to.  What was even better, was that I didn’t have to give my power away at all in the first place, as I so often do.

The thing that makes it easy for my reclaiming of it, is that it is sitting on the table.  The person who I gave it to is no longer present in the same capacity they once were, and so as it IS just sitting there, I take it back.

This makes me realize how little value I place on my power.  To give it so freely to others, and then to only take it back when there is no one there to offer it to.  Even though I am always standing there, with every right to claim it for ME.  It’s mine, and while I can recognize that on an intellectual level, I still don’t seem to always consider myself as the rightful owner of it.  Or worthy of being the rightful owner.

That’s a bit of a lightbulb moment.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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