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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Knowing and Relating to Form Better Relationship

  There is no being or becoming without relationship. from the beginning, we grow to sense the need and import of relatedness. We human beings have the longest period of dependency among any living creature. At birth, in total helplessness, we engage in our first coupling, mother-child, and from that time on, the more sophisticated our lives become, the more interrelated we become. In a sense, we spend our entire existence weaving one relationship into another until we've created, like the web of a spider, a complete pattern.
  Our very survival seems to depend upon our relationships. In childhood, if we are denied loving encounters with human beings, we wither, fall into psychosis, idiocy, or die.As adults we continue to depend upon our interactions in togetherness for our greater joys and our most significant growth. We take this process for granted. It seems to be only in moments when we experience disconnection, times when we are severed from close relationship-either by death, divorce, or physical separations that tear our closeness apart and leave us alone-that is becomes apparent. It is strange, then, that even knowing of our desperate need for relating, we continue through much of our lives to engage in thoughtless, vacuous behavior which only results in isolating us further.

  Like most of us, my life has been spent in trying to understand and form lasting relationships and in watching those I love attempt to do the same. There are times when I have succeeded. So many of the people with whom I have grown up, family members and long-lasting friends, are still vital parts of my life. There are times when I have failed. I think back fondly and plaintively of the many individuals I have encountered in the past with whom I have shared days, months, even years of extreme joy, but whom I no longer see. Where are they? What are they doing, thinking? Why could I not seem to keep them in my life? Happily, these were few in number. Was it easier then, or harder? I can remember the neighborhood in which I lived and grew to adulthood. I remember the family across the street who afforded us so many children from which we could select friends. I recall the boy next door, how close we became. It seems-or was imagining it-that there was so much more stability, so much less moving about. We found possible relationships in church, in school, at the playground, which remained constant year after year. They formed the permanent network of contacts from which we received our security and strength. They knew our names and we knew theirs. They were part of our great family from which we received our growing identity.
  Allan Fromme, in his book, The Ability to Love, describes this comfortable, fast vanishing time. He says:
Our cities with their swollen populations and cliff dwelling high-rise buildings are breeding places for loneliness. Neighborhoods crumble under the housing development bulldozers and families scatter in pursuit of jobs and professions everywhere. in a world of wheels, old and comfortable groupings of people have disappeared.
  Even our daily shopping once afforded us opportunities for relating. We had no super-efficient, one-stop, sterile markets. The butcher down the street who ordered the white milk-fed veal which Mama lovingly made into many savory dishes, knew each of us. The vegetable stand owner gave us discarded greens for our rabbits. The deli manager who cut the salami, prosciutto, mortadella and cheeses to order, was a family friend. Today sixty million a year change residence in the United States. They move into impersonal cities where people pride themselves in having achieved privacy in that they don't even know their neighbors. They are fearful that others may invade their world and at the same time hope that some of them will.
  I read of a young man in his mid-twenties who was found dead  in his apartment off the campus of the University of Miami, where he was a student. It was reported that he was last seen prior to Thanksgiving. When they found him he had been dead fro two months. He hadn't even been missed by anyone at Christmas. On his apartment door were two eviction notices and his television set was still on.
  We don't dare to stroll out forbidding sidewalks. Security today has come to mean elaborate alarm systems, armed guards and high-rise housing where we can enter and leave in an elevator which delivers us directly into our living room, assuring us of not one-good or bad-human encounter. More and more opportunities for personal contacts are being taken from us and the chances of forming lasting relationships are becoming significantly  more difficult. Some of us have friends whom we care about and see daily in our working environment; but in a city like Los Angeles, for example, it is conceivable that they live as many as thirty miles away. How are we expected to form meaningful relationships when opportunities are so very difficult? Though some of us give lip service to the horror of this "community apathy," we seldom do anything about it. Rather we spend our time elaborating upon feelings of emptiness, alienation, isolation, deprivation, and damn the unfriendliness and indifference of those about us and the society which perpetuates this.
  Loving relationships, though necessary for life, health, and growth, are among the most complicated skills. Before we can be successful at achieving relationships, it is necessary that we broaden our understanding of how they work, what they mean and how what we do and believe can enhance or destroy them. We can accomplish this only if we are willing to put in the energy and take the time to study failed relationships as well as examine successful ones. Loving relationships cannot be taken lightly. Unless we are looking for pain, they must not be forever approached in trial-and-error fashion. Too of us have experienced the cost of this lackadaisical approaches in terms of tears, confusion and guilt. Referring specifically to married relationships, Carl Rogers stated:
.....though modern Marriage is a tremendous laboratory, its members are often utterly without preparation for the partnership function. How much agony and remorse and failure could have been avoided if there had been at least some rudimentary learning before they entered the partnership.
   This statement is equally valid for all relationships.

Source: Loving Each Other by Leo Buscaglia


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