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Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway, The Romance Reverend

Soulful Love
July 2002

A Goddess is a Girl's Best Friend by Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
Rev. Laurie Sue's Newest Book:
"A Goddess is a Girl's Best Friend"

by Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway

Every month, our Soulful Singles "Romance Reverend" shares her sage insights on relationships and getting ready for soulful love!  Send your questions to RomanceRev@SoulfulLiving.com.

Relationships That Nurture and Inspire Growth of the Soul

The Romance Reverend’s Tips For Understanding Your Shadow

Dear Romance Reverend,

I have a difficult time having soulful relationships with women. Even with friends and family and co-workers. I want so much to have good friendships with females but I find I always blow it. It is as if this dark side of me comes out. With the girls I really like, I get very shy and fearful of asking them out. Then I end up getting attracted to women I would rather be friends with – for about two minutes – and make a move on them, and blow the friendship. I ruin good friendships and working relationships. But also, I have such a hard time with my family. They never abused me or anything, but I don’t feel they "get me" and I don’t like being around them too much. I am 25 and I need some direction. --Jim, Manhattan, NY

*  *  *  *  *  *

Dear Jim –

It’s great that you can see the pattern that you are playing out. Acknowledging there is a problem is a very healthy step in the direction of exploring and healing behaviors that no longer serve you and beginning to liberate yourself from habits that do not get you where you say you want to be in your relationships with women.

Obviously, the first place you need to look is at the relationship you have with your Mom (as well as other significant women in your life). In between the lines of that relationship you will find the emotional/psychological blueprint for how other relationships with women have developed over time and how you interact with other women. Soulful singer Barry White once told me "Your mother is your first girlfriend," and that sounds pretty true to me. No offense meant to your Mom, but you may be having some issues connecting with other women in a warm, familiar and soulful way because you didn’t have a great model. This is for you to explore and know in your own heart.

You may also have a tendency to sexualize or romanticize relationships with friends because the "intimacy" part is scary. It could be the old, "When Harry Met Sally" question of: can a woman and a man really be friends? Why not rent that movie and see if resonates with you at all.

It has been my experience that anytime we identify some "issues" relative to childhood and family, exploration, without judgment, and conscious healing are called for. This can be done in many forms. Therapy is always a good way to do a reality check on "issues" and get a grip on some of the more difficult ones. Don’t shy away from finding a professional to help you with the exploration. Ultimately, you have to let Mom – Grandma, Aunties, and The First Girlfriend – off the hook for anything that was said, done or demonstrated that gave you a skewed experience of intimacy. But this takes a willingness to explore, heal and let go.

We humans have the tendency to project our needs and neediness on to others, which robs our relationships of mature love and friendship. Taking personal responsibility for healing that in you that gets in the way of soulful connecting with others is essential. Healing the past will help open the door to new opportunities – and you must make conscious choices and efforts to create a new model for intimate relationships.

Just so you know, there are certain guidelines that have been established by the recovery movement to tell us what makes a relationship healthy. When we clearly know the signs of Healthy Love, our chances for a healthy relationship increase. Take a moment to review these standards for a healthy relationship, from Signs of Healthy Love by Brenda Schaeffer, (Hazeldon Educational Materials, 1986). A fulfilling and mature love relationship embody these qualities:

  1. Allows for individuality
  2. Experiences of both oneness with and separateness from a lover
  3. Brings out the best qualities in partners
  4. Accepts endings
  5. Experiences openness to change and exploration
  6. Invites growth in the other
  7. Experiences true intimacy
  8. Feels the freedom to ask honestly for what is wanted
  9. Experiences giving and receiving in the same way
  10. Does not attempt to change or control the other
  11. Encourages self sufficiency in partners
  12. Accepts limitations in self and partner
  13. Does not crave or demand unconditional love
  14. Finds commitment acceptable
  15. Has high self-esteem
  16. Trusts the memory of the beloved, enjoys solitude
  17. Expresses feelings spontaneously
  18. Welcomes closeness; risks vulnerability
  19. Cares with detachment
  20. Affirms equality of self and partner

The best relationships are those that make us feel more connected to our own hearts, where we can be ourselves, yet stretch to become more of ourselves. It is possible to have many intimate relationships in life and it is important to allow relationships to develop into friendships without there being a sexual energy or romantic expectation. Ultimately, we want relationships that bring joy, and lift the spirit, and give each person a safe space in which they can share life’s fantastic and not-so fantastic experiences.

A soulful relationship is a sacred connection, and it can’t be only defined by sexual attraction. In addition, attraction might be present – because you like each other so much – but it may not be in the cards. You have to learn the difference between the energies of soulful intimacy and intimacy that is based on romantic and erotic attraction.

There is nothing wrong with beginning the dance of intimacy by focusing on building a friendship. So many of the couples I marry tell me they were friends before lovers. The wonderful metaphysician and spiritual counselor Dr. Roberta Herzog once told me that a great romantic relationship is "friendship caught on fire."

One of the best ways to develop soulful relationships is to suspend judgment of what they should be and accept others as they are, for who they are, before assigning them a category in your life. This gives all relationships a purer start. Then you can see what develops.

© Copyright 2002 Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway  All Rights Reserved. 

The Romance Reverend’s Tips For Understanding Your Shadow

Therapy and seeking support for the shadowy issues that sometime impede our happiness and ability to love and relate to others in a healthier way is important. But let us not forget that in its own imperfect way the universe is a perfect place, here to give us experiences and lessons that help us evolve and grow!

To coin a popular Star Wars phrase, its important to remember The Force is with you. Whether you are exploring your light side, or your darker side, remember, a force that brings energy to the whole universe, and those in it, guides you. The Force, just like in the Star War movies, has both light and dark. And it is like that for a reason: the world is formulated from the balance of dark and light … yin and yang … fierceness and gentleness. In the spiritual realm, each are from the same root substance, and indistinguishable. But for a more peaceful life here on earth, we must acknowledge the darkness that exists in us all. And heal the places where the shadow overwhelms and hurts us, or mirrors to us that we must make a change. By telling the truth about our own shadow sides, we can ultimately be light bringers into these darkened times.

To add to the diversity of this special "shadow" issue of Soulful Living, I asked a few of my friends to contribute their thoughts on the importance of the shadow in our lives and our relationships:

"The non-dual philosophies make no distinction between the 'dark' and 'light' sides of human nature because the enlightened mind embraces all that is. I'm not quite there myself, but I like to look at it this way: a shadow cannot exist without light. Therefore, our shadow selves only prove our existence as beings of light." --Carol L. Skolnick, editor of www.eclecticspirituality.com.

"Greeting the Shadow is the soul mystery of unfoldment. Without our shadow we cannot move into wholeness. Shadow comes in when we are resisting change. We empower the shadow as we move to its counterpoint. Destruction comes in when we are too rigid and fixated. I have found that the key to transformation is in our rejected and disowned areas. In this place lies new vitality and you begin to live the full range that life offers you. When the tension of opposites comes together there are new possibilities. Stop trying to be what you think you ought to be and allow life to teach you what you are." --Barbara Biziou, author of The Joys of Everyday Ritual (St. Martins, Griffin) www.joyofritual.com.

"Everything has a shadow. Night is the shadow of day. Winter is the shadow of summer. Sickness is the shadow of health. Old age, the shadow of youth. And death is the shadow of life. The shadow is not the opposite of the light. A world without shadows would seem very flat and lifeless indeed. A life without shadows … shallow, superficial and false. If we strive only for the light, we lose half of the day. Half of the year. Half of our range of feelings. Half of our lives. It is only because of the shadows that we can see the wholeness, the three-dimensionality, and the complex completeness of which the dark is a part of the world around us. If it were not for the shadows, we could not appreciate the light. It is the contrast that illuminates. And there are some things that you can only learn in the dark." --Donna Henes, Urban Shaman , from Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles and Celebrations. (Perigee: Putnam/Penguin 1996)


How Has Your Shadow Shown Up in Past Relationships?


Read Reverend Laurie Sue's Current Column


Read Reverend Laurie Sue's Past Columns:

June 2002 - "Finding Peace in a Turbulent World"

May 2002 - "Sacred Sexuality For Modern Men and Women"

April 2002 - "When Someone You Love Pushes Your Buttons"

March 2002 - "When Life Has You Down, Remember You Are Loved"

February 2002 - "Plan a Valentine's Day Team Date"

January 2002 - "Do I Hear Him Knocking … From the Other Side?"

December 2001 - "How Do We Make Our Love Dreams Come True?"

November 2001 - "What is the Future of Love?"

October 2001 - "Getting to Know 'Lakshmi' the Goddess of Good Fortune"

September 2001 - "Can't Hurry Love... It Will Happen in Its Right Moment"

August 2001 - "Family Rituals Help Us Grow Into Loving Beings"

July 2001 - "Dreams Warn It’s Time To Own Your Power"

June 2001 - "A Fun Visual of Your Favorite Romance"

May 2001 - "Someday Your Mystical Soul Mate Will Come"

April 2001 - "Enjoy the Merriment and Fun of An Ancient Love Holiday"

March 2001 - "Nourish Yourself On a Date for One"

February 2001 - "Get Ready for Soulful Love"

Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway is an author, teacher and contemporary clergy person who specializes in matters of the heart and soul. As an ordained interfaith minister and non-denominational wedding officiant, it is her honor to regularly marry couples in love.

Prior to becoming a minister she enjoyed a successful and colorful 20 years in media as a widely published journalist, editor and author of several books on relationships and romance—as well as being a noted spokesperson on those topics. She was editor-in-chief of two national magazines and several regional publications, and her articles have been published around the world and in many newspapers and national magazines, such as the NY Daily News, The Washington Post, Women’s News, New Woman, Ladies’ Home Journal and Child. She evolved years of specialized reporting in the field of male-female relationship dynamics into a more spiritual pursuit that led her to train to be an interfaith minister, and then establish her wedding ministry along with a number of popular relationship enhancement programs. Her wedding ministry is based in New York.

She is also dedicated to bringing about a deeper awareness and understanding of the Divine Feminine. As a graduate of The New Seminary in NYC, the world’s premier seminary for interfaith ministers, she was educated and trained in the tenants, spiritual practice and worship of many faiths. She became a specialist in the feminine aspects of God in all the world’s religions. Today, she is widely recognized as a minister, teacher and scribe specializing in women’s spirituality and The Divine Feminine from an interfaith and all-inclusive perspective. She is on the board of directors of World Light Fellowship, heading up their Feminine Faces of God programs, and is Founder of Our Mother’s House, a cyber ministry at www.OurMothersHouse.org.

Long devoted to helping women access the "Goddess Within," she is currently working on two books that bring the wisdom of ancient archetypes to modern women. Her newest book, A Goddess Is a Girl's Best Friend, is due out from Perigee Books in December 2002.

To be placed on a mailing list for information about A Goddess Is A Girl’s Best Friend: OurMothersHouse@aol.com


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