When I was about 13 years old, my mother said something to me that I will never forget. She said, “No man will ever be able to contain you.” I didn’t quite grasp what she really meant until just recently and after many failed relationships. I grew up the middle child. I had an older brother and a younger sister. Both of my siblings were very affectionate and for the most part would pick one activity to participate in and leave it at that. Not me. I was quite the opposite. My mom would tell the story of me as a baby and how I would never tolerate being in any type of containment. I would try to escape from my crib in the middle of the night and would be found in the kitchen taking out all the pots and pans to create some sort of musical instrument. In one incident my mother set me down in the kitchen while she went to the car and came back in to find I had discovered the joys of syrup. (It took her 2 hours to get it out of my long blonde hair).  When someone would try to hold me I would throw a fit, because there was just way too much to do and I wouldn’t be happy until I was free to explore.  I was a baby in the early 70’s before baby proofing became the norm. My parents told me that they would run around the house trying to anticipate my next move, because they were sure that I would certainly end up burning the house down. By the time I was in 8th grade and when my mom made her comment about men not being able to contain me, I was participating in gymnastics, dance, band, and was the editor for the school newspaper. I was still on the go. I am still on the go.

Growing up my favorite animal was a penguin. I have always loved them.  Penguins to me always look like they are having so much fun. They always seem to me to be having a party. They slide off the ice into the water. They swim, cavort and they appear to be so free. As a kid I had penguins everywhere. I still do. (Of course now thanks to Morgan Freeman we all know they aren’t partying, but huddling together for survival,  but I don’t like to think of it that way. I like the Coca Cola version of them partying with the polar bears at Christmas).

I’m telling this story of my background for a very specific reason. It’s important that to understand healthy relationships and ultimately domestic violence, that we have to understand the life a person was meant  to live. I was meant to fly. I was meant to be the penguin who plays with her friends. I was meant to swim freely, knowing home is the place I come to be safe, but the world was my playground to explore. I am the person that was meant to find syrup sitting on a table and actually enjoy making a mess in the kitchen.  I think however, that everyone is a penguin who was meant to swim or a bird meant to fly. Unfortunately, in life we often see people as “something” to possess and “something” to control. “You are mine and you will ALWAYS be mine.” Once the control begins, the penguin inside of us drowns. The bird falls from the sky and the syrup dries up. Eventually that control is what kills our spirit.

I have found in life that there are a lot of people out there who want to trap you into living the life THEY want you to live. Relationships are about compromise, but they shouldn’t be about the suppression of your personality. I am a person that has never understood why men and women can’t be friends. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why women can’t tell their partner that they had lunch or a drink with another man without following with this phrase, “Oh…but he’s gay.” Women are the same way. Why can’t a man have lunch with another woman without telling his partner, “…but she isn’t pretty.” What is it about our own insecurity that doesn’t allow us to let our partners form relationships with whomever they want? Where is the trust in a relationship when friendships with others threaten the relationship? Wouldn’t it go to reason that the more we explore healthy relationships, the more we learn how to be in them?

Another thing I don’t understand. Breaking up. Why does a break up have to be horrible and abusive? Why do break ups involve name calling and the immediate possession of things and sometimes children? Why in this society do we feel that we have possession of a person to the point of restricting their freedom, even when it’s time to go? Is it fear? Is it insecurity? Is it money? My belief is that it is possession. “You are mine and no one will have you if I can’t!” If we didn’t feel the need to possess another person, then I believe there would be less break ups and if the break up has to happen, then it will be one of peace. I’m that woman that uses the phrase that every man hates, “…but I still want to be friends.” You know what the reality is? I do! I really do. I don’t get why we can’t still be friends!! Oh my God! Heaven forbid I stay friends with someone I loved for so long. How does someone you love become someone you hate? It’s because someone in the relationship wants to possess the other one. There is so much about relationships that I just don’t understand. Why would anyone in their right mind want to stay in a relationship when their partner isn’t happy? We as a society have such a need to possess things and many times those “things” are people. Couples will fight and claw their way through a bad relationship because one or both refuse to be the first to say, “You are free. I will always love you.” If we let them go, then chances are they might just come back. We can’t control love and once we try, abuse will surely follow.

I can say with all my heart that I have never been in a relationship where I was allowed to fly fully and freely. A bird will always come home if they are allowed spread their wings and fly. I describe the men I’ve been with as someone holding on to a bright red helium balloon. That balloon wants desperately to fly. The man wants the balloon to fly as well, but only if they are holding on to the string. They want to control how high the balloon goes. When the balloon gets too high, they bring it back in so they don’t lose control of it. When the helium starts to leave the balloon, they don’t try to put more in it so it can fly. They let the helium slowly leak out to the point where it can’t fly anymore. The balloon ultimately falls to the ground unable to find its flight. The only way to control a helium balloon is to allow all the helium to leak out until there is no flight left.

To make a relationship work, both people in the relationship must learn to love the inner personality and soul of their partner that wants to fly. Supporting their dreams is paramount. Loving them…loving all of them is how you build the relationship of a lifetime. This is not just for romantic relationships, but all relationships. Let the ones you love fly and they will always return. They might not return in the form that YOU are comfortable with, but they will surely return. Love is where we were all meant to live, but no love can live in a cage and no love can be possessed.

As a woman, I don’t profess to say that women are a perfect species. We are as much of a possessive creature as a man can be. As a woman who has been controlled and had her wings not just clipped but the wings of my soul broken, I’m here to tell you that we all still want on thing. We want to be free to be who the universe intended for us to be. We have a voice and we want to sing. If our soul sings, then you will find that our love will create passions upon passions and those passions of love will flow freely into the home and into the universe. We must learn that it is o.k. to let the people we love fly, because only true love can exist in flight.