By Michael Kimmel
Relationships are humbling. All relationships. Whether it’s with your partner, your child, your parent or your best friend … all relationships are humbling because they show us our flaws, fears and weaknesses. And yet, they are also the best path to wholeness. My grandma used to say, “You can’t get to heaven by yourself.” I interpret that as: “You discover who you really are by being in relationships; you can’t do it alone.”
We won’t learn who we are by sitting at home, isolated and obsessed with our phones. Nope, we’ve got to go out into the world and be around people. This doesn’t invalidate quiet, alone time. We need to find a balance between being with people and being on our own. But, for many of us, this balance is skewed. We spend far too much time on our phones and on social media in “virtual” relationships and not enough time with “real-life” in-person relationships.
There’s not much wholeness there…
The title of this column, “Shoving each other towards wholeness,” came from a client, who used those words to describe his challenging but rewarding relationship with his boyfriend.
It’s a great image. Two people lovingly shoving each other in a direction that benefits them both. And relationships do involve a lot of “shoving,” don’t they? Not physical shoving (I hope), but mental, emotional and psychological shoving. We think we know what would make us or the other person happy and so we push in that direction. We want them to change and they want us to change and neither of us really wants to change. Therein lies the dilemma.
Two years ago, I wrote a book, “The Gay Man’s Guide to Open and Monogamous Marriage.” Initially, the book I wanted to write was about relationships for all of us: gay/straight, married/single, male/female. But, since my agent couldn’t sell a book like that, she suggested that I write a book about gay marriage. She was right. She sold that manuscript to a publisher and they published it in 2017. My next book will probably be a book about relationships – straight, gay and/or bisexual – based on my years of working with couples of all ages, races and sexual orientations.
On Saturday, March 30, at 1 p.m., at the brand-new Hillcrest/Mission Hills Library, I am offering a free 90-minute workshop on “shoving each other towards wholeness” – the give-and-takes, tugs-of-war and power struggles that arise from loving someone and being loved in return.
I imagine that it’s what happens in fairy tales after the “and they lived happily ever after” part of the story. I always wondered: how did they do that? What did he do when the excitement of their sex life wore off? How did she respond when her partner became too controlling or too passive? How did they turn that into “happily ever after?” That’s what this workshop is about.
Now that we’ve defined what I mean by “shoving,” here’s my definition of “wholeness.” Being free of wounds or injuries with nothing missing and everything complete, perfect and unbroken; free of any mistake or impairment.
That’s a pretty lofty goal, right? And this is where our loving relationships can (potentially) take us: to this really amazing place … or, they can put us in a living hell. We have the choice which direction we “shove” towards.
The workshop/author talk will be experiential, it’s not a 90-minute lecture. I’ll give you questions to consider and you’ll be talking about them individually with a few other people and then in a group. You’ll get to meet new people in an easy way (which is good for you shy folks). And, I’ll talk a bit about the book too.
The Mission Hills-Hillcrest Library is located at 215 West Washington St. The community room is on your left side of the main entrance of the library.
I hope to see you there! Any questions? Call me at 619-955-3311 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.
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