The Power Struggle a cue for catastrophe or path to fulfilled love
I am of a mind to think that most of us are, or have been wrapped up in the power struggle. Harville Hendrix explains it as the battleground lovers enter when the romantic phase ends and the dynamics bred into us through Imago and childhood wounding lead us to 'flip' our partner perception on its tail and start to 'dislike' or feel ‘uncomfortable’ with the parts of their nature that in large part drew us to them in the first place.
Many people act out this core drama in many different ways, passive aggressive, distancing, open hostility, pleading, threatening, and silent treatment, to name but an obvious few. But the simple truth I think is that a vast number of us fighting or recovering from fighting the same war, and from my own sad experience this is a war zone!
The first stage to peace for me has been to recognize my role in the war that took place, and make no mistake, however you view yourself or your partner, if you are not one of the few to have reached vintage love (written about elsewhere), or one of the some who are still in the early phase of 'romantic love', then in one form or another you will likely be in the power struggle or trying to recoevr from it having gone through Al Turtles aptly named doors 1,2 or 3 ......
Heck I have seen, known, and been part of couples long since split up that are single or in new relationship and still fighting the power struggle deep in their psyche.
I have heard it said that love is the most powerful force in the universe, and I am certainly not going to disagree.
Equally I have heard it said, and seen it written, that hate and love are but flip sides of the same coin.
I think that is how it is with love (romantic or vintage) and the power struggle, flip sides of the ‘I want love, nurture and safety’ coin. I suppose that they are all methodologies that we drift into to obtain love (safety, security).
I guess we start this journey in the womb, encased in love and a perfect union; all of our needs met with no thoughts or request or description on our part, then we come out and it all seems a bit downhill from there, well if you look at it like that!
Hendrix suggests that we pick our partners, our Imago matches, based on the templates of our caregivers and how they treated us in childhood. His text is insightful and certainly has allowed me a deeper look into the character traits of people I have connected with as an adult. Some of those traits I now understand are disowned parts of myself, I nominated people at an instinctive level because I saw bits of me, my caregivers, and my route to here that still needed some work doing.
Often bits of me I put away in the face of my own series of childhood traumas as 'not suitable to purpose' some better (more likeable), some worse (more disagreeable). Instantly recognizable in my Imago match alongside those qualities of my parents/ caregivers that affected my path to adulthood, left holes in me.
My Imago match is therefore a cornucopia of all the bits I think at a 'lizard' level need addressing in order for me to move on, to fill in these holes of my childhood and adolescence.
But, and here is the but..........
I have been in a power struggle.....
In the cold light of day I know that I am perfectly primed to seek and be most attracted to a partner who is least able to give cure to my wounding, and furthermore that I am equally least able to respond to that partner’s needs, I am all the strengths and weaknesses that make me least able to respond at an instinctual level to a.n.others needs, and they to mine in equal measure. And so I know that I need to make those choices to help consiously
But knowing this appears not to be enough.... I look at that coal face every day, and I know I would do best to turn away from the conflict and put my pick axe back in my belt.....I would improve my growth and start to repair my own holes by stepping back and mayhap choosing to take a more cared for and caring for view than constantly entering into conflict, however subtle that may be. I know that love is a better path but that patterning of 50 years is jolly tough to resist tis the concious versus the unconcious and my lizard is tough!
And so time and again the lizard .......'How are you Douglas?' kicks in (tis a good thing to name your lizard.....mine is called .....yep you got it) and so instead of once more hacking away at the coal face, chipping bits off left and right in some vain........and it truly is vanity, attempt to get a.n.other to take responsibility for my universe, t'would be better to just offer love, seek nothing, and let the garden grow.... I think this is what Al calls entering The University of Life
The lizard is responding only it has been trained across millennia of human history. All things are either love or a threat to my life, and in some strange parody of what is good for me my lizrad has repeated over and over the very actions that most often ensure love is off the menu. Safety tends to defer to a worst case expectation methinks
Tis amazing to watch and painful to be a part of, if you are reading this I am thinking there is a good chance you may already know this….
As a baby that cries and expects its mother to intuit every need so I've whined and cajoled and castigated, and then wonder that love moved further and further away. I am able to be articulate cool calm and collected in almost every walk of my life, and yet I slipped into this sad and destructive reverie over and over.
Malidoma Some and his African tribesman I think are right when they talk about closed doors being a reflection of the strength or weakness of the psyche, of the individual mind and the village mind.
Humble strong and free, what need of a closed door?
This therefore is my power struggle warning.........as my friend Al Turtle says, it is all 500 times harder with your Imago match. I think I need to find my humility, and I strongly recommend to anyone who has identified they want to work on themselves to tread slowly, care patiently for the one you love, and yet build strong bulwarks behind each step that you take. Learn to love yourself as flawed as you are, cos you will mess up on the way
But try and remember that you at least recognize you are in or have been in a war zone, and you don't want to be there, and you don’t want to go back there, and neither do they..... It is truly not they that are pushing you toward conflict.......
I recommend start by saying or doing one nice thing, just one, without expecting in return
Perhaps then you might continue by asking yourself these questions next time you disagree with your loved one
What if we are both right? Is that possible?
What do I stand to lose if I give a little ground...... right here......right now?
What do I stand to gain?
Tis just my thinking
David 2014 (amended October 2015)