Yesterday evening, Gwyneth Paltrow announced the end of her marriage to Chris Martin. She described their separation as a conscious uncoupling and emailed subscribers to her website with an explanation of what that phrase means, written by Dr Habib Sadeghi and Dr Sherry Sami.
Within that explanation, one particular passage resonated with me. They described the break down of a relationship and its attendant guilt, shame and regret. They explained that in order not to have to face these emotions, we put on a body shield to protect ourselves, like an insects exoskeleton. It is firm, rigid, keeps us safe but it can calcify and entrap us. A better process is to develop an emotional endoskeleton which means supporting ourselves from within, laying our exterior open to harm. It essentially means being vulnerable, but it gives us flexibility. We can move, grow and develop.
Until very recently as I began to write about my last relationship and the experiences I had during it, my exoskeleton has been firmly in place. It has protected me and it has limited me in equal measure. The good doctors are right. If you don’t let yourself become vulnerable, you can’t grow.
At the end of a relationship, as the sadness, grief and anger rage through you, it’s time to recognise how much those emotions really direct inwards, what they can teach you about your insecurities and how conquering your inner demons can make you stronger. Most importantly, it’s time to recognise the person you are uncoupling from as someone from whom you have learned. Your experiences together have helped you develop. The negative feelings as the relationship ends are still teaching you and guiding you towards a more powerful, strong and more amazing version of yourself.
Conscious uncoupling recognises the shared journey you’ve both undertaken that is now at an end and welcomes the new journey you will take as a separate entity. It recognises that your partner was a fellow learner and also a teacher. It respects what they have allowed you to learn and in doing so it respects them and their experience. It’s the only way to be truly free.
Thanks Gwynnie, for bringing that concept into my frame of reference. Thanks and Good Luck.