So many people crave love and connection and yet, they feel utterly disconnected in every relationship they’re in.
And maybe that’s something you have experienced too – I know that I have. It didn’t matter who I was with or what I did, I just didn’t feel how I knew I was meant to feel, how I knew I could feel. Deep down I just knew this wasn’t it … but I had no idea how to get there or what I was doing wrong.
At the beginning of a new relationship, I was excited because I was hoping and anticipating that this time it would be different.
This time, we’d truly like each other and keep liking each other. This time, we’d really connect on a level neither of us had ever experienced before. This time, we’d stay madly in love. But ‘this time’ never happened.
We couldn’t keep the spark going or make the connection happen. No matter how hard we tried. It all fizzled out pretty quickly and whoever I was with soon started to tend to their own interests and projects.
I, however, lay on the sofa crying and feeling hopeless and depressed. Sadly, I wasted years like this. I didn’t think it was ever going to happen for me.
I never took action to change because I thought that that’s just what it was like for me. I didn’t realise that this was something that could be changed or that it was something only I could change.
Every now and then I had little spurts of hope and motivation and it was during one of those spurts that I began learning about healthy relationships.
It was mind-blowing!
I had always thought that I knew what a healthy relationship required. It was things like love, loyalty, commitment, trust, respect etc. but I was wrong.
What I interpreted as loyalty was really only self-sacrifice. What I interpreted as commitment was self-abandonment. What I thought of as love was codependency.
And the root cause of codependency is disconnection. Disconnection from yourself.
I had no idea how to make sense of it all or how to use this knowledge to my advantage. There weren’t any instructions and I didn’t meet many people who knew about this.
It took me many years of study, introspection and self-exploration to figure it all out but I did it. I stepped out of the vicious cycle of despair and instead of asking “Why me?”, I started asking, “How can I change this?”
That’s when things really changed for me. I became proactive in a way I had never experienced before and it was truly empowering. It felt like finally growing up – in a really good and satisfying way.
While I underwent this transformation I had no idea what was going on or what I was doing. I intuitively followed little nudges, tried out new things, failed, tried again, failed again but eventually I’d always find a new way of being and doing things that little by little improved my life in a way I had never thought possible.
Before, all I had experienced was suffering, fear and shame. I was scared of being left, of being alone, of being rejected and of being unloved.
What I hadn’t realised was that that was everything I was already doing to myself.
It didn’t matter whether I was in a relationship or not. The pain I experienced came from being disconnected from myself.
I wasn’t there for myself – I had checked out a long time ago.
I wasn’t interested in how I was feeling – I just wanted me to stop inconveniencing myself and everyone around me with my ridiculous and embarrassing feelings (they weren’t, of course – that’s just how I judged them).
There was no part of me that loved how I was and yet, I expected others to love me.
It simply made no sense. It couldn’t happen.
The disconnection I felt in every relationship was only ever a projection from the inside out. It’s what was happening within me. But constantly turning away from myself, I couldn’t see that.
I was disconnected from myself and so it was impossible for me to connect to others. I just couldn’t do it. I thought I could and often blamed my partners but I was not emotionally available for connection – not for myself and so by extension not for anyone else either.
This changed when I started to focus more on myself so I could get to know myself better. And while it wasn’t always a comfortable or easy process, it was simple and extremely liberating.
It is now something I teach to my clients because I know that everyone that wants to get the love they need, can get it.
If you want to stop the hopeless cycle of going from one relationship to the next in the hope that next time it will be better and that you will feel less disconnected, you need to stop now. It will never work because it simply can’t. Please know that I am saying that with the utmost respect and compassion. Continuing this cycle is abusive, self-abusive. Learning to break it is self-care. It’s actively practicing self-love.
To have a better experience in your relationships and to experience the connection you crave, you have to learn to connect to yourself.
It is time to allow yourself to let go of the pain of disconnection and finally take steps on a new path. A path that leaves you feeling connected and complete.
Because that is possible for you too. I promise.
Marlena Tillhon is a psychotherapist who helps people create richer, more authentic and more meaningful lives. She is passionate about helping people understand themselves better so they can reconnect with their innate wellbeing and unleash their full potential – no matter what has happened to them in the past. You can find more informaiton on her site here.
Image courtesy of Ilyuza Mingazova.