Today’s time with Dancer was a little rough. When I asked Dancer to come to the arena with me, he would comply for a couple steps but then disconnect. In my vocabulary, compliance is when we do what is being requested of us just because we are trying to get the pressure of the request to go away, not because we are really connected to the individual making the request. In my relationship with Dancer, I don’t want compliance. I want to have a mutual relationship where he enjoys doing things with me and wants to say yes to time with me.
It was obvious he didn’t want to really connect and that’s hard feed back. I have to accept that Dancer and I haven’t spent a lot of time on our relationship lately and that deeper connection can fade. But we have to start somewhere, even when we are starting again. Once in the arena, Dancer went right to grazing with a few moments of feigned connection as he tried to get the pressure to go away without fully connecting.
I took a deep breath. I knew I was not regulated. The morning had been rough when someone I was counting on failed to show at the time they had committed to. This isn’t the first time it has happened and I was irritated. I have rescheduled many times with this individual to accommodate them and today I just felt like my time was not being respected. Every felt that way?
But now I was the one demanding that Dancer connect on my schedule. So I took some time to let that go before putting some music on and asking Dancer to join me for a walk to warm up. We were both regulated and connected for about 2/3 of the song when I found my mind wondering and lost the connection with Dancer. I refocused again and asked again. And this pattern occurred for about 10 minutes. I was the one struggling to keep the connection as my mind went back to feelings of justification and irritation.
We finally found a consistent place of connection as I begin asking Dancer to detach (give me some distance) while staying connected in a circle to the right at the walk. Dancer did amazing and I was so proud of him as detachment has been a struggle in the past. He even trotted a full circle to the right and remained connected. We spent a couple minutes celebrating this success before I asked him to circle to the left.
The minute I asked him to walk to the left he disconnected and begin walking off. We worked the whole length of the arena before he would connect again through attachment. But after asking several times for detachment to the left, Dancer still couldn’t do it. At one point he gave me his right side again as if trying to communicate “I’m okay with this side, just don’t ask me for the other side, I can’t do that right now.” I spoke to him out loud and said, “I know that’s a hard spot for you but we need to work on it or it will only get harder.”
Maybe it was hearing those words come out of my mouth that finally helped me see what was going on for me. I too was guarding a hard spot. Something had happened for me in the last couple days that hurt and I was trying to ignore it. But when we ignore or avoid the hard spots, they only get bigger and they start to bully us and keep us from living our lives and fostering healthy relationships.
Dancer was very connected as I squatted down to think about what he was showing me. After a couple breaths I got up and let Dancer return to grazing outside the arena. Then I headed home to face my hard spot. I can’t expect him in our relationship to look at the hard stuff if I am not willing to. So here’s to the hard stuff, knowing that as I face it, my capacity for deeper connection and healthier relationships only increases.