Alanis and the E-Course: Lesson 2 (Madness)

Lesson Two of The Conscious Weddings E-Course is “Why Is My Partner Driving Me Crazy?” or “Understanding Projection”. One of the scariest experiences to have during an engagement – or any time in a relationship – is feeling angry, annoyed, disconnected, or irritated with your partner. It juts up against one of the most faulty precepts that we all hold before entering marriage which says that during your engagement you’re supposed to feel more in love than ever. We may consciously know better; after all, we’re aware that couples fight during their engagement about the wedding planning. But when it’s happening to you, you simply cannot believe that this is normal. Is it really okay to feel a million miles away from your partner? Surely it’s a sign that I’m not supposed to get married, right?

Yes, it is okay and no, it’s not a sign that you’re not supposed to get married. Unless there are red-flag issues in the relationship (abuse, addiction, betrayal, deep-seated control issues, misalignment of core values), chances are that you’re in a good relationship with a good man or woman. Most people who come to me describe their partner as “kind, loving, responsible, stable – basically everything I’ve ever wanted. But why is he or she driving me crazy?”

Your partner is driving you crazy for two reasons: One, you’re undergoing one of the biggest transitions of your life, which means that you’re terrified. It’s very hard to keep your heart open and feel loving when you’re in a state of terror. The more you work through the difficult feelings, the more quickly your heart will open and you’ll start to feel love for your partner again. And two, you’re in a state of projection. Projection is difficult concept to understand, which is why I’m so excited to reference Alanis’ song, Madness. Listen to it and read the lyrics until you assimilate the truth of what she’s so bravely expressing:

Madness

I’ve been most unwilling

To see this turmoil of mine

The thought of sitting with this

Has me paralyzed

With this prolonged exposure

To near and averted eyes

I think that I’ve been waiting

Such mileage for empathizing

Now I see the madness in me

Is brought out in the presence of you

Now I know the madness lives on

When you’re not in the room

Though I’d love to blame you for all

I’d miss these moments of opportune

You simply brought this madness to light

And I should thank you

Oh, thank you

Much thanks for this bird’s eye view

Oh, thank you

For your most generous triggers

It’s been all too easy

To cross my arms and roll my eyes

The thought of dropping all arms

Leaves me terrified

And now I see the madness in me

Is brought out in the presence of you

Now I know the madness lives on

When you’re not in the room

Though I’d love to blame you for all

I’d miss these moments of opportune

You simply brought this madness to light

And I should thank you

Oh, thank you

Much thanks for this bird’s eye view

Oh, thank you

For your most generous triggers

I’d have to give up knowing

And give up being right

You, inadvertent hero

You, angel in disguise

And now I see the madness in me

Is brought out in the presence of you

And now I know the madness lives on

When you’re not in the room

And though I’d love to blame you for all

I’d miss these moments of opportune

You simply brought this madness to light

And I should thank you

Oh, thank you

Much thanks for this bird’s eye view

Oh, thank you

For your most generous triggers

***

Your partner is, and will always be, a trigger. He or she will mirror back to you exactly the places in yourself that need attention. For example, let’s say that you can’t stand your partners’ goofy sense of humor (a very common source of annoyance for many of my clients). Every time he cracks a joke, you cringe inside. It’s always sort of bothered you but nothing like it’s doing now. What’s happening? You’re in a projection. Not only is the depth of your irritation a reflection of the depth of your fear and grief about this transition, but it’s a reflection of a critical or judgmental part of you that needs attention.

A big part of marriage is learning to accept the quarks and foibles of another flawed human being (just as you are flawed – it’s just so much easier to see it in the other person). For many people (especially women, it seems), we’ve been handed a template passed down from grandmother to mother that primes us to criticize and nag our men. You watched your mother doing it and now you see that part in yourself. One of the greatest beauties of transitions is that they’re opportunities for growth; in the vulnerable and stripped-down state of the letting go and liminal stages, you see yourself and those around you with crystalline clarity. You can run from the mirroring or you can embrace it as an opportunity to address a part of you that needs to be seen.

In Lesson 2 of the E-Course, I offer an in-depth explanation of projection as well as several articles and concrete exercises for working with this challenging human experience. The sooner you learn to call back the projection and take full ownership for your difficult feelings and wounded places, the sooner you will find your clarity, serenity, and love.

***

Sheryl Paul, M.A., is regarded as an international expert in transitions. In 1998, she pioneered the field of bridal counseling and has since counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, “The Conscious Bride” and “The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner,” her websites, www.consciousweddings.com and www.consciousmotherhood.com, and her blog, http://conscious-transitions.com. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top television, radio, and newspapers around the globe. Phone and Skype sessions are available internationally for all types of transitions and ongoing counseling. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two young sons.