Every difficult situation has the potential for learning something about oneself, and changing something. I was unhappily married for fifteen years with the most difficult man that I had ever related to, and I often asked myself why. Why, of all men in the world, I chose this particular one? What was going on inside me that chose him? I had dated kinder men, more sensitive men, more passionate men, more generous men, men who loved people, men who loved children, men who loved sex, men who danced. But I married him. Why?
I read the books and did the therapy, learned about conscious and unconscious attraction, shadow and projections, unresolved childhood trauma and present choices, and I was able to understand what led to my choosing. This question was answered.
Then, year after year, I struggled to leave, and neither logistics, nor internal and external resources seemed to cooperate with my desire to end the marriage. I learned all about love, forgiveness, self love, compassionate communication and coping strategies for relational adversity, and I was eager to graduate this life lesson. Each year seemed like the 'Ground Hog Year' where I was stuck and spiralling downward in despair. What was I missing? Which lesson had I not learned? The question changed from "Why have I married this man?" To "Why am I still here with him?"
The missing piece revealed itself to me when mentored by a martial artist and embodiment genius, Paul Linden (www.being-in-movement.com) The missing piece was Power (together with Love).
Throughout the years I have been generously advised to "take my power back", "stop giving away my power", "stand in my power", "claim my power" etc, and while this all sounded like something very useful to do, nobody knew to show me how precisely to do it. Everybody is able to dispense advise about WHAT to do, and very few can show you HOW to do it.
The basic difference between couple dysfunction and abuse is, dysfunction is when two people can't get along if their life depends on it, whereas abuse takes place when there is an imbalance of power, and the abuser has the upper hand.
What are the factors determining power?
- Place. Competitive team sports fans know that the team who plays in their own home town or country are at an advantage. By being the spouse who relocated to join my husband in marriage in his own country, I placed myself in the weaker position.
- Money. Money is power, not only power of purchase, but power that liberates an individual to choose their circumstances freely. I depended financially on a man whose income was, unlike mine, substantial and dependable, who controlled the household finances and made all the money decisions on his own.
- Knowledge. As a new immigrant I lacked basic knowledge of my adoptive country's culture, legal system, politics, economy, and infrastructure. My husband was at home and familiar with politics, society, law and economy.
- Social support system. I had a very strong and dependable system of social support in my home country, and leaving all my family and friends behind, I arrived to a new home where my husband was my only relative, and I was on my own, starting a social life from zero.
- Support system. Having a team of supporting professionals is empowering, and after years of shying away from it out of both ignorance and fear, I finally reached out for help and built myself a team of social worker, therapists, healers and coaches. I attribute my survival to this team.
- Embodying power and love. This is the HOW TO that I have been learning with Paul Linden, and practicing around my husband and all my relationships. This is standing, sitting, moving and breathing is such ways that I am and act powerful and kind no matter what, no matter around who, no matter what another does or says. It is a body of knowledge and practice based on martial arts and self defence, the missing piece I had searched for years.
Neither my husband nor I have been taught how to embody power and love, and we both struggled with our current and previous relationships, feeling weak, tense and helpless. The world's cruel abusers are hardly powerful people (some are powerful but not kind), and many abusers act cruelly while seeing themselves as victims and martyrs who fight back against perceived enemies. Embodying power and love is the only answer to violence and cruelty, and the only way to address conflict and build peace.