by Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
Every month, the "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
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
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
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:
- Allows for individuality
- Experiences of both oneness with and separateness
from a lover
- Brings out the best qualities in partners
- Accepts endings
- Experiences openness to change and exploration
- Invites growth in the other
- Experiences true intimacy
- Feels the freedom to ask honestly for what is wanted
- Experiences giving and receiving in the same way
- Does not attempt to change or control the other
- Encourages self sufficiency in partners
- Accepts limitations in self and partner
- Does not crave or demand unconditional love
- Finds commitment acceptable
- Has high self-esteem
- Trusts the memory of the beloved, enjoys solitude
- Expresses feelings spontaneously
- Welcomes closeness; risks vulnerability
- Cares with detachment
- 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
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
© Copyright 2002 Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway All Rights
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
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
"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
--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
--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:
How Has Your Shadow Shown Up
in Past Relationships?
Reverend Laurie Sue's Current Column
Make Your Wedding Day a Sacred and Meaningful Celebration
Reverend Laurie Sue's Past Columns:
2002 - "Finding Peace in a Turbulent World"
2002 - "Sacred Sexuality For Modern Men and Women"
2002 - "When Someone You Love Pushes Your Buttons"
2002 - "When Life Has Your Down, Remember You Are
2002 - "Plan Valentine's Day Team Date"
2002 - "Do I Hear Him Knocking … From the Other
2001 - How Do We Make Our Love Dreams Come True?
2001 - "What is the Future of Love?"
2001 - "Getting to Know
the Goddess of Good Fortune"
2001 "Can’t Hurry Love… It Will Happen In its Right
2001 "Family Rituals Help Us Grow into Loving
2001 - "Dreams Warn It's Time to Own Your Own
2001 - "A Fun Visual of Your Perfect Romance"
2001 - "Someday Your Mystical Soul Mate Will
2001 - "Enjoy the Merriment and Fun of An Ancient
2001 - "Nourish Yourself on a Date for One"
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
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
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