Lives Hanging in the Balance
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
When I was a little girl, I loved playing on the see-saw. It required a Â partner of some reasonable level of equalityâ€”one who wouldnâ€™t Â get me near the top and bail on me, one who was content to alternate flying through the air, one who delighted just as much as I did in getting to that point where we were in perfect balance with our feet off the ground and Â hanging in the air at the same time and grinning at each other.
â€œBalanceâ€ is such a big buzz word among counselors, therapists, Â and Â coaches. Â The Â only Â terminology Â I Â hear more often is when people talk about relationships being â€œequalâ€ or â€œ50-50.â€
I never quite got the 50-50 thing. More explanation was always needed because I saw the 50% as the relation- ship being balanced by the near-equal giving of both, but sometimes Â I Â think Â itâ€™s Â interpreted Â as Â each Â giving Â 50% rather than each giving 100%. And I always felt inclined to Â emphasize the giving rather than the receiving, code- pendent that I was.
Iâ€™ve noticed that people tend to talk more about relationships Â being Â equal Â and individuals Â being Â in balance. Iâ€™m now able to identify Â that many of my â€œequalâ€ relationships were themselves out of balance, and thatâ€™s why many of them ended, whether I wanted them to or not.
At some point in each one, I realized I was no longer being heard. The relationship Â had tipped to a point of parent-child dynamic, with me in one role or the otherâ€” almost Â always Â the Â child Â roleâ€”but Â never Â switching and never near the middle of the dynamic. No see-sawing of the balance, just a thud of my ass hitting the ground or of someone leaving me suspended and refusing to let me go where I wanted. Iâ€™d let the weight of the otherâ€™s opinions become more important than my own and even when I realized it, I kept deferring to them.
Of all the symptoms of an out-of-balance relationship, that is the single factor that I can recall in the breaking of friendships, partnerships, Â and romantic relationships: Â not feeling heard.
Iâ€™m very aware of my weak fifth chakra and how I sometimes have to yell (literally) to be heard. My voice is thin Â and Â disappears Â into Â the Â more Â delicate Â frequencies that the first sign of hearing loss will nullify or a lack of attention to whatâ€™s important to me will miss or a misunderstanding of what someone else wants as what I Â truly want will allow to float away unnoticed.
Like the times I said so often, â€œThis is what I want more than anything,â€ and no one seemed to realize that I really meant it.
Like the times I said so often, â€œI donâ€™t want to talk aboutÂ thisÂ because Â it Â hurts,â€ Â but Â thatâ€™s Â what Â came Â up again and again.
Like the times I said, â€œI need support in this area,â€ and Â all I got Â was Â why Â it would Â never Â work Â orÂ how Â I should just give up.
Like the times I said, â€œThis is really importantÂ to me and it would Â mean the world to me if youâ€™d be there,â€ and I was alone.
Like the times I said, â€œI really donâ€™t want to do this,â€ but thatâ€™s what we did, and I deferred to the parent in the relationship, as always.
At the Â point Â of Â the Â relationship Â breaking Â or Â after- wards, almost in every case, Iâ€™ve heard the other person say, â€œYou never told me thisâ€ Â or â€œWhy didnâ€™t you say something?â€ But I did. Again and again and again, but I wasnâ€™t heard.
Bless my daughters. Â Theyâ€™ve always heard me. There were times in my marriage where Iâ€™d said something four or five times, only to be told Iâ€™d never mentioned it, and my girls would point out calendar dates and events where Iâ€™d said it.
But for most instances, I havenâ€™t had the girls nearby
to record my voice in relationships. And really, if I have to tell somebody three or four times how important their presence is at a special Â event, what does it matter if my announcements can be corroborated Â if the other person in Â the Â relationship,Â Â friendship, Â or Â partnership Â doesnâ€™t show up when it counts?
I didnâ€™t know when I was in the relationship Â that it
was out of balance. The scales had to tip all the way over and dump me Â out on my ass before I got it. Itâ€™s some- thing I can see only from the outside, but at least I now have Â a better clue Â of what Â makes Â it Â unbalanced Â and I know what to look for to prevent a repeat.
I know what to look for so that my future relation-
ships will be in balance, whether they are â€œequalâ€ or not. Iâ€™m being Â tested Â already on this discovery, Â telling Â both new and old friends, â€œYouâ€™re not listening to me. Iâ€™ve told you several times that this is important Â to me and you keep discounting my feelings.â€
In one case, just last week, Iâ€™ve said it for the last time, which Â pains Â me, Â but Â sheâ€™s Â made Â it Â obvious Â that Â our friendship will never be in balance and she will always put me in the role of child even when I havenâ€™t auditioned for it. Iâ€™ve had other Â opportunities, Â too,Â and Iâ€™ve kept Â my boundaries set.
Keeping with Â the Â see-saw Â analogy, Â I Â guess Â I Â donâ€™t
mind the ups and downs of a relationship Â so much as long as things are still moving and every now and then we can just hover in the air in perfect balance.