“HOLD ME TIGHT” – SUE JOHNSON: Rosalia Cranfield

Recently, I spent a few days at a close friend’s not too far away from home. I had felt quite shaken by the fire on Lion’s Head on Sunday night – lashing wind fuelled blazing heat which engulfed the mountain above where I live.  The uncontrollable environmental destruction triggered feelings of helplessness in me.  I reached out for social support.

For many years I held onto a conditioned belief that I did not have the capacity to ever live with someone else.  This impacted my approach to relationships and long-term commitments. Vacating my flat, I sought solace at a close friend who invited me in warmly. When I arrived, she showed me to my room and asked if I needed anything. I felt cared for when she briefed me on little things, like how the lights and security system work. I was only planning to stay for the night but ended up staying longer.

I treasured this time with her and I realised how happy and comfortable I felt.  She said that I could stay as long as I liked. Although we’re both independent with busy lives, we shared periods of time together and chatted about the fact that neither of us ever thought it possible to share living space  with another. Importantly, we realised one has to find the right person to share with, whilst being respectful of their boundaries, and feeling safe enough to voice and uphold one’s own – without feeling compromised.

Since getting home to my apartment I realised that boundaries are important to me especially within my attitude toward relationships and love.  We often think about love in a romantic context, but love can also be that support of a kind and caring friendship.
In fact the Greeks had 6 words for different types of love.

A healthy loving relationship has been scientifically proven to have many positive benefits on one’s health and longevity.  Love nurtures, creating feelings of safety, comfort and stimulates oxytocin (which is the cuddle hormone).  Spending time alone is positive in many ways, but ultimately human beings are social creatures.  We seek connection, comfort and harmony in our own environment, just as I had sought out on the evening of the fire. Having someone to interact with helps to quieten some of that haunting negativity that so easily arises when one is caught in a destructive tendency.

I believe that each person needs to be aware of their own “love philosophy” as part of their value system. Awareness of one’s own boundaries and any expectations of the other’s, needs to be communicated clearly and in a non-threatening way. This solidifies the foundations for healthy interactions all-round.

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