Our Quest for Love.
Sometimes, in an intimate partnership, we cannot help but act out of unrealistic demands, projections, and expectations, as if we are testing the limit of reality.
It looks as though we are illogical and overly reactive.
We often, albeit unconsciously, look to our current relationships to fulfill our deepest unfulfilled needs and longings, to plug the gaps in our psyches, and to heal where we have been wounded.
We unconsciously want from our intimate others what we were deprived in the past, often by our family of origin.
It is a part of the human tendency to replay the past.
We repeat the story but are secretly hoping for a different outcome.
However, this sets an impossible task for our partners.
After all, the weight of our unmourned hopes and lost childhood is too huge to be carried by any one person, or any relationship.
Rather than criticizing ourselves, however, we could look at our actions as a quest for love. It is our inner child trying to get their needs met, our innermost desire to heal and become whole is out searching for what might help.
Our efforts and attempts might be clumsy, but the intention is virtuous. If anything, we ought to have deep admiration and respect for the creative strategies we have come up with to heal ourselves.
Our fears and reactivity make sense, because, to a dependent child, having inconsistent or unavailable parents is threatening. To an infant, it can be a matter of life and death.
But these are old fears. We are now an adult who does not depend on others for our survival.
We now have the power to take conscious actions to stop looking outward for rescue but to make an honorable commitment to be our own best caretaker.
When our partner disappoints us, the situation provides valuable information that points to our deepest longings. Through awareness and reflections, we realize what we are deeply hungry for — someone to mirror our expressions, to celebrate our existence, for us to trust and occasionally rely on, or to share a sense of kinship and likeness.
But we must first be able to grieve.
To grieve the loss of a fantasy that our partner could fulfill all our longings.
If we allow the conflicts and disappointments to burn through our unfulfilled dreams, childhood lack and fantasies, we will reach the joy of seeing reality.
We could finally meet our partner as they are, not under the filter of how well they could meet our needs, and without projections and false expectations.
We do not need them to be perfect, as they do not reflect on us, represent us, or limit us.
We might still like or dislike certain things, but their limits cease to become a threat.
We can compassionately hold their good and bad together in our heart, without flipping into black-or-white thinking.
We would not be acting from a place of desperation, neediness and resentment, but out of love, and the pure joy of giving and relating.
We would be able to hop off the cycles of co-dependency and symbiotic relationships, and move towards independence, self-containment, and freedom.
Then, we would have taken a giant leap towards a soul-fulfilling partnership with a fellow journeyman.
A life where you are truly alive would not be devoid of pain and letdowns, but rainbow and roses too exist.
I hope you make the best of this journey we call love and life.
Imi Lo is an award-winning mental health professional, a psychotherapist, art therapist, coach, and author of the book Emotional Intensity and Sensitivity. Her mission is to inspire intense, sensitive and gifted individuals to rise from being the ‘misfits’ to being the leaders of the world. Leaving home at a young age, Imi has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, the USA and the UK. She has been a suicide counselor, social worker, artist, mindfulness teacher, Yoga instructor, holistic healer, art therapist, psychotherapy trainer, and lecturer. She has also enjoyed an art model career, during which she toured around the world. Her work reflects her passion for the emotional and existential themes that connect people. She founded Eggshell Therapy and Coaching, where she works with intense people around the world. She also owns over a thousand Japanese comics, and eats broccoli every day.