The "Other" Parts
When I refer to the “others” in my life, I am usually referring to external others; people outside of me with whom I am in relationship—friends, partner, children, neighbors, family members, and colleagues. But “others” can be found within, as well, “parts” of me woven of lost pieces of my heart, unfulfilled dreams, half-digested feelings, and various fragments of unlived aspects of my life. Parts that exist to support my survival and well-being . . . even if those parts or “others” no longer truly serve. Just like external others in my everyday life, the internal parts or “others” long to be seen, heard, known and respected. They want to receive my undivided attention. These internal parts are not limited to only a few forms but appear in infinite ways, created and existing within me according to the circumstances, experiences and feelings that brought them into existence to begin with. These inner parts are endlessly creative in their ability to make their way into my external experience . . . to remind me of incomplete or denied aspects and facets of myself I may have forgotten, rejected or neglected. With these inner parts in mind, I am able to perceive relational interactions with others to be not only “externally” oriented, but simultaneously an interaction with the disowned or displaced figures of my inner psyche and body. Like so many people, I too have longed to be in a healthy, nourishing, mutually-loving relationship with an external other, a fellow traveler that I can walk through this world with and share in the beauty and pain of this bittersweet human experience. It is a natural longing that, for me originated in the lack of any real bonding or connection early in life. When I honor and bring attention to this longing, I can clarify my motivations and intentions for an external partnership, which are rooted in resolving a sense of distance and disconnection from my internal sense of self.
When I am unable to attend to the darker inner “others,” to the chaos and contradictions they represent, I am also not able to be intimate with these difficult qualities as they inevitably and organically emerge in my most intimate relationships . . . at least not to the degree that will fulfill the heart’s longing. To the extent I am able to empathically attune to the ways my inner being reveals herself, in all of her forms, beautiful as well as distorted by pain and disappointment, I can hold and be held by another.
I find that when I have been in purposeful, direct contact with my inner being or inner parts, the longing to be seen or met in my external world relationships dissolves. I have to question how much do any of us truly know about our inner selves relative to what drives our external relationships? How many of us would be in marriages or partnerships at all if we were more attuned internally?