Beware of “judging” too soon...a lesson from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
If you happened to click on this article because you had a suspicion it was going to irritate you, let me start by sharing this widely-accepted notion. “The truth will set you free – but occasionally, it may really aggravate you first...”
I think we all intuitively “get” that there are many good reasons why you might not want to feel like you “need” your partner. The truth is – life, by its very nature, is uncertain so there is some comfort to be found in not getting too “attached” to things you can’t control. In fact, it’s easy to make the case that it’s actually smart (which explains why the people who do this most often are usually highly intelligent and successful). However, I suggest there may be another very different – and far more empowering – way of looking at that. In order to illustrate that, I want to share a thought-provoking, real-life story.
A Judge of Character
Recently, I saw an excellent interview that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor did with Oprah. Clearly, she is a brilliant and very hard-working woman of superior intellect, dedication and compassion. While I’m not here to “judge” her in any way, I do think her interview featured what our President would call a critically important “teachable moment” and I want to use it to serve others. Who knows, maybe it will even get back to her somehow...so I offer this perspective with deep respect, admiration and appreciation for her.
For those who don’t know, Justice Sotomayor married her high school sweetheart who she described as very generous, kind and loving. Despite her obvious love and appreciation for this man (which you can see for yourself in the clip below), they divorced seven years into the relationship – yet still remain close today. So it begs the question – with so much love and appreciation still evident decades later – how did it all go wrong? And why has the Justice never remarried?
Justice Sotomayor was so beautifully introspective and vulnerable as she took full responsibility and admitted that she was completely consumed with her work as an up-and-coming attorney. As she says in her own words essentially, one day, her husband realized that no matter how hard he worked, he would never be as successful as her...and his inescapable conclusion was – “does she really even need me?” As painful as that realization was for him, her response was even more devastating...as it would be to any man. She said, “I loved him & I knew he loved me. But did I need him in the way that he wanted me to need him? He was probably right...that I didn’t...”
See the video clip for yourself:
An Open-And-Shut Case? Not Exactly...
Despite the fact that her ex-husband was not interviewed in the clip, my heart went out to both of them due to what seemed like a painful impasse that seemed intractable at the time. I would suggest that a better resolution may have been possible with one simple but powerful shift in perspective. The fact is – all relationships are governed by certain spiritual and emotional “laws” and perhaps a better resolution could have been negotiated from a more empowered place. In other words, what if this painful, final breakup had less to do with resources and everything to do with resourcefulness?
Let Me Give One More Quick Example
A somewhat similar situation came up for one of my clients recently because her own man was looking for some evidence of her “needing” him and she dug her heels in like I’ve never seen her...so I had to call her on it. She kept saying, “I want him...but I don’t want to need him! Why can’t that be good enough?” Clearly, and understandably so, it became obvious that she still had some lingering fear that hadn’t been resolved from their very painful previous breakup. So we handled that and I’m delighted to say they are back on track and doing very well.
Here’s The Truth From A Man’s Point Of View:
No man can really tolerate being in a relationship for long with a woman who will not allow herself to need him because it eats away at his very soul. That’s right. I said ALLOW herself. Here’s the truth: these very intelligent women aren’t really afraid to need a man. They’re afraid to be VULNERABLE – and that is a very different issue. The fact is – a man who doesn’t feel needed CAN’T stay without swallowing that very painful realization that tears him up inside. If he doesn’t honorably walk away as the Justice’s ex-husband did, he will probably seek what he NEEDS elsewhere and have an affair as a means to be free. I’m not making that right – I’m simply making it known. You can’t rob another human being of what they need to feel complete and whole and expect no repercussions. (Remember...this isn’t a theory. It’s a law – and ignorance of the law is no excuse). A human being will eventually violate their values in order to meet their needs.
There's one other important factor also. Whether it's a job, your kids, family, friends, vices, whatever – any time you make something else more important than your intimate partner...trouble will soon follow. Of course, it's important to focus on your career, mission and finances...but it would also be valuable to note that no one ever said on their death bed: "I sure wish I had spent more time at work..."
So How Does A Woman Reclaim Her Vulnerability – And Be Safe?
As I shared with my client, when you give someone a gift, you automatically claim the superior position rather than the neutral or inferior position. Think of it this way: when you give a gift, you are bestowing...awarding...presenting...honoring or gracing someone with something. That is far from a position of weakness – and that’s the root of the issue. Far too many people confuse vulnerability with weakness. I submit to you that standing in your vulnerability is actually the ultimate strength because it takes real fortitude and grace to stand in your power and say “Yes, that’s right. I am who I am and I stand here willing to to consciously take the risk of loving AND needing you simply because it is the right thing to do – and by the way, it lights me up and makes me feel incredibly alive, too.”
Can you imagine how a man would light up when he heard – and felt – words like that? Even better yet – how proud would YOU be if you graciously held the space to love your partner from that position of empowered generosity and abundant love? I promise you this: it is a total game-changer and it will welcome in more joy, love and passion than perhaps you’ve ever experienced. But don’t take my word for it...try it for yourself...
If you feel how empowering and life-changing this shift can be but don’t quite know how to get there on your own, I invite you to contact me just to chat. Let's talk about how you can finally heal any old wounds that hold you back, realign your priorities with what's really important and fully welcome in all the love you truly deserve.