So again, let me say that this blog series is in no way intended as a negative judgment of unpartnered women. Much of what I am offering can just as easily apply to men or women, partnered or unpartnered. The central aim here is to offer some uncommon possibilities that might provide food for thought leading to some kind of healing integration and the lessening of suffering.
Over the last year or so, I have had contact with an increasing number of single women who have disclosed a preference to me that they wish they weren’t. They are all lovely, intelligent, spirited women, thus I found their struggle somewhat surprising. In contemplating their situation, I’ve come up with six possibilities you won’t find in Cosmo or Elle magazine that I thought might be worthwhile offering for consideration. Rather than simply offer six capsule summaries, each week I’m offering a different possibility in-depth…
Possibility Four: Unfinished Business from the Past
Shortly after Stephen Levine’s book, A Year to Live came out, a friend and I invited a collection of courageous people together to meet weekly. Our intention was to support each other in asking and answering The Two Perilous Questions in order to help us make changes in our lives that we would absolutely make if this was going to actually be our last year alive (Side note: the friend I co-led the group with was hit by a bus and killed a short time after the Year-to-Live Group ended).
At a time that long predated The Bucket List, each of the people in the group went through Stephen’s book and began to rank the areas of their lives they felt needed the greatest amount of attention. When everyone’s list was complete, by far the greatest need uncovered collectively by the group was to begin taking steps to finish unfinished business.
Relaxation Makes It Happen
Unfinished business remains unfinished for many reasons. Chief among them I think is our discomfort and reluctance and lack of supportive training in softening our neurophysiology. When we relax our hearts, bodies, minds and brains, we also relax our habitual defenses and our brains begin dredging up and secreting buried memories, sort of the way we eliminate embodied toxins during a cleansing fast. Often these memories are painful ones: being betrayed by my best friend in high school; discovering my business partner spending money our company didn’t have and then hiding it; a series of ungrieved losses resulting from significant relationship ruptures. For many of us, the list of painful, unresolved and unintegrated memories is often a long one – a collection we’d much prefer to drop in a bucket and keep buried in someone else’s backyard.
Even so, I’ve written here and here and here about the importance and need to finish unfinished business and repair ruptured relationships. The relationships we repair with others essentially works as an internal remodeling and rebuilding process. Reconnection and forgiveness are important neurological reconfigurations: it’s our own heart/brain/mind/body that we’re restoring. It’s our own neural capacity for processing energy and information that we’re increasing. Unfortunately, that’s a work too easy to forget or make low priority – who wouldn’t prefer to simply move on and “accentuate the positive?” – and thus delay or avoid attempts at repair altogether. For finishing unfinished business often requires re-enduring some degree of pain, since current evidence suggests neurons holding stored traumatic memories need to be actively firing in order to be able to reconnect back up to the neural network. Most often we have little real choice but to “feel it in order to heal it.”
For me, feeling painful things and going through them once, was more than enough. My greatest wish of course, is to be “one and done.” Except that’s not the way our brains are built – their very structure and function requires us to pay attention to the pain in our lives. Not necessarily to retain painful memories forever, but rather to get access to them and express them skillfully and constructively (and perhaps ideally, creatively) in the world when we no longer need them to protect us in the present moment. Think: artists creating art or spring closet cleaning and hauling the many things we’ve stored and accumulated over the years off to the local thrift store. The donation will, more often than not, help connect and strengthen altruistic impulses hiding out in our tangled, forgotten compassion centers. As we begin to feel kindly and compassionately toward ourselves, when we are no longer struggling to “get enough of something that almost works,” those feelings begin to present an energetic picture to the world which I predict increasing numbers of people will invariably find themselves drawn to. Increasing the odds of becoming partnered?
Finishing Unknown Business
According to University of Texas fetal origins researcher, Peter Nathanielsz, “We pass more developmental milestones during life before birth than we do during life after birth.” Unless we were born of mothers living in Nirvana, able to take eustress to the apex of the stress cycle and rarely top the curve, how many of us passed those in utero milestones without incident?
Which, when you think of it, makes for a pretty challenging after-birth assignment: how does one uncover, address and remedy developmental milestones that might have been problematic in utero? Especially when we don’t even know what missing pieces in our unfolding development require us to do? Unfortunately, these aren’t questions I have good answers for, yet; might some of you?
What I do have, though, is great food for thought, intended to inspire even more interesting and easily answerable questions. Click HERE to partake.