The relationship path

Joey Garcia

I dated a young lady and was unfaithful, ungrateful and stoned. When I saw my self-hate and how I was slowly destroying her, I broke up. Near the end, she cheated and abused drugs. If I had treated her better, she would not have used. To this day, I have dreams where I apologize and say none of it was her fault, and she forgives me.

The young lady I dated next drank heavily and abused me. I felt like I deserved it. She had two kids, and we had a child together. I got lost raising them to right my years of wrong behavior. Two years ago, we separated. I have sole custody of our son. Dating scares me because I messed up my first relationship and my second messed me up. I have no clue how to build a relationship with my boy or how to teach him to build relationships with others. I need to resolve my issues so this doesn’t affect him.

Your desire to protect and inspire your son is beautiful. But, for your sake, remember that you cannot control what he is affected by in life. Modeling how to initiate and sustain a healthy romantic relationship is a huge gift, one that will make his life easier. However, if you err in any way, be gentle with yourself. We all fail in relationships, sometimes. The key is to discern how we contributed to problems and then to courageously make the internal changes necessary to love more fully the next time.

I can see that, after facing your physical addictions, you attempted to be different in your second relationship. However, the second relationship revealed the emotional addiction (aka codependency) that you attempted to blunt through drugs and affairs in the first relationship. Believing that your first girlfriend would not have used drugs or had affairs if you had been kind strips away the reality that she made a choice. She could have left or sought therapy.

Perhaps both women mirrored familiar problems back to you because relationships are your spiritual path. Rather than worry about hurting someone or being hurt yourself, see relationships as opportunities to become real. (Remember The Velveteen Rabbit? Read that story to your son.) A spiritual perspective on romantic relationships reveals that each new partner invites you to drop defenses, heal old wounds, know yourself more clearly, love more widely and trust the transcendent realm of life. What greater skills to teach a son? So, forgive yourself (you didn’t know any better) and try again.

I’ve read that the honeymoon period of relationships is short, but after three years, sex is still hot with a girlfriend. I want more commitment and deeper intimacy. She resists giving her heart the way she gives her body. She was adopted, and her adult history includes miscarriage, so is she taking anger out on me? Also, is it good to ask someone if they want to heal from their past? When I ask this girlfriend, I never get a straight answer. I am romantic and think that being each other’s healers is very sweet. Is intimacy here a dead end?

The “honeymoon” is the period before illusion is shattered, so both members of the couple are immersed in their individual fantasies of who the other is. This period of infatuation has continued in your relationship. Can genuine love still develop? Yes, with effort from each of you. But if your woman suffers from intimacy issues, the last thing she needs is you probing her wounds. There is nothing romantic about designating yourself as her healer; that’s just a cover for your control issues. So, channel your energy into healing your ideas about love so that you can give without manipulation.

Meditation of the week
Almost 10 years ago, seven Trappist monks were killed in Algeria. One of them, Dom Christian de Chergé, wrote to his family shortly before he was executed. “If it should happen one day–and it could be today–that I become a victim of terrorism, remember that my life was given to a God and to this country and that the one master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure,” he wrote. “Associate my death with so many other equally violent ones that are allowed to fall into the indifference of anonymity.” What do you give your life to?

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