Many of my clients struggle with preserving a strong sense of self within a relationship; be it an intimate relationship or one with their children. There is a sense of loss. A confusion over where one ends and the other begins.
I often use a powerful analogy of relationship that was described in the movie Copenhagen.
In the scene, a young man is confused and heartbroken because his girlfriend has left him after explaining that she needed space and that he had lost himself in her.
To console the young man, a friend shares the story of a place in the north of Denmark where the two seas meet. She explains that her mother had taken her to the beach in the North following a painful breakup with her boyfriend. As the mother stood on the beach, she pointed to the right where the Baltic sea lay; a beautiful blue sea whose current travels west. She then pointed to the left where the North sea lay; also a very beautiful blue sea, but whose current travels east.
The mother then pointed to the middle and said that the space between the two seas represents the perfect relationship.
"You can look to the left and you can look to the right and both seas are there. And they can meet in the middle but they never lose themselves in each other. They're always themselves no matter what."
It is always the space between that a healthy relationship exists. In this space each can bring their own sense of self to share without fear of loss. The space allows for both to exist separate from the other while at the same time experiencing and appreciating the fullness of the other.