When we successfully disengage from the superego / inner critic our relationships change dramatically.
If the judgmental behavior of the other person is an unusual occurrence and you are successfully confronting it through defending yourself, the disengagement will separate you from that specific attack without damaging the ongoing relationship with that person. Defending yourself in this case will tend to clear the air and allow the relationship to return to a more familiar ease and openness. However, when you disengage from a long-term pattern in a relationship, you are separating from the ongoing relationship as it has been defined. If you are successful in defending, you have stepped out of the assumptions that have defined how you and this person relate. Suddenly you are there and the other person is there, but the relationship is no longer there—there is nothing in between. No conversation, no words, no images—as if an empty space suddenly appeared between you.
Remarkably, you are now simply present with another human being with no images clouding the air, no familiar patterns of engagement interfering with direct and immediate contact with this other being. This may be a moment of delight and freshness, enjoyment and relaxation. Or it may be an acute encounter with the unknown. Who is this person when you don’t have a relationship with him or her? Who are you when you don’t know what your relationship is based on? At this moment of disengagement, the opportunity exists for contact without relationship, not unlike what you feel when first meeting someone. If you have a history with this person, the challenge is to relate without returning to and getting lost in the “relationship.” Is it possible to simply be present, open, and in touch with the reality of each moment?