A relationship can be as empowering and scary as a handstand. Both can be interesting, fun, intoxicating, magical and thrilling and yet also disappointing, confusing, draining and painful (especially when you fall flat on your back). And they both take practice. When I first started doing Yoga I couldn’t fully understand why a handstand was considered a Yoga pose and why we needed to try it in class. Various emotional highs and lows were experienced (and still are) whenever the teacher told us to set up for a handstand. I tend to avoid them and experience similar emotions about relationships. I don’t understand why we feel the need to have them, why they cause pain and waves of indescribable joy and ecstasy. I hardly ever know what the right thing to do is. My relationships have so far been messy. I get nervous. I need control. I hold the wheel. I choose the movie and make way too much popcorn (my analogy for ‘giving’). I demand a certain amount of attention. Keep it interesting and fun or I might lose interest.
Hey before you start judging me, I’m not the only one. There are many many (yes lots) others who feel and act the same way. They just don’t talk about it openly like I do. The truth is that most of us can’t help but to want to get caught up in relationships. They are either thrown in our lap or we get pulled towards them. Either way, it’s one hell of a ride. There are lessons to be gained and joy and heartache to be felt. One way or another we are all meant to practice them. It’s how we grow. Personally I have been through a couple and each time, there have been tears as well as laughter, good times as well as not so good times. The thing that I have come to realise is that as much as our interactions, expectations and timing vary, the common theme in all of them has been to trust myself. To not settle for anything less than what I feel my heart longs for. The big lesson continues to be to keep my heart open no matter what and stay true to it.
Like many others I too have put down love. I too have pushed away those who tried to show me the most beautiful love one can possibly ask for; the kind of love that is filled with respect, sexual, mental and spiritual understanding, freedom, appreciation and validation. It is not the kind of love that I grew up with. Not one I witnessed my parents share with each other. Does this mean that I am asking for too much? Does this mean that what my heart wants does not exists?
I believe that life has somehow given me insight into what my heart truly desires through the relationships I have experienced so far. Our experiences help us gain clarity about what we want and to make better choices for ourselves, let go of fear and know our worth. Instead of living in regret I am choosing to believe in endless chances. You see, we never miss the “boat” because there are a continuous stream of boats. The keys lies in knowing which boat to jump on and which adventurous ride you feel is right for you.
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
– Dr. Seuss
Recently I’ve been involved in making some difficult decisions. Surrendering to what my heart knows to be good for me can really suck at times. The idea of being true to me can feel far from straight forward. It has the potential to cause pain not only to myself but also to those whom I care about. It is easier to ignore the guidance of my inner voice, especially if what the voice is telling me will be an unpleasant, painful experience. It can be tempting to rationalize my way out of listening by justifying, doubting and not following through. Even when a decision is made, the doubt doesn’t just go away. It lingers on and teases you for as long as possible. But life has taught me that if I continue to ignore my inner voice, whilst I may be able to dull it temporarily, it never goes away and often ends up coming back louder and stronger than ever. It could be about anything from a relationship not feeling right, a job not being right or a lifestyle choice that might be jeopardizing my health. Deep inside our heart always knows what is best for us, but often our head doesn’t want to listen. It may not want to acknowledge that it is time to move on or let go of something. Our head seeks to eliminate pain, so it pretends that everything is fine the way it is and yet the little voice deep inside continues to remind us that it is not.
“The most important property of humankind is the capacity to form and maintain relationships. These relationships are absolutely necessary for any of us to survive, learn, work, love and procreate. Human relationships take many forms but the most intense, most pleasurable, and most painful are those relationships with family, friends and loved ones. Within the inner circle of intimate relationships we are bonded to each other with ‘emotional glue’ – bonded with love.”
– Neuroscience researcher Dr. Bruce Perry
So far everything I have read or heard on the topic of relationships suggests that we don’t enter them merely in order to experience fun, romance and love. There is in fact a whole undercurrent of motivation that we are not consciously aware of when we make our choice. Many psychologist, therapists and spiritual teachers highlight that in fact we are drawn to our chosen partner and relationship by a series of unknown factors, such as what our childhood was like (the modeling behavior of our parents, their beliefs and what we felt was missing) and the needs in ourselves that we desire to fulfill. That it is in fact the life lessons; growth and healing we need to go through that guide our choices. By understanding why we make the choices that we do, we begin to see that each partner, no matter how outwardly unsuitable, teaches us something, helps us grow, realise and heal from something we have experienced or feel ourselves lacking.
Yes relationships take work and commitment whether we have chosen to be with someone highly compatible or not. What I find amusing is that even when we are in a relationship with someone whose actions and behavior (or lack of them) can drive us somewhat mad and trigger emotional pains within us, we can still miss them or experience a yearning desire to be with them. Is love really meant to torment us?
Somehow I doubt that.
It makes me think that perhaps at times what passes for love may in fact be a need of some form? The need to be needed can often lead to one sided relationships where we try to fix a problem or the other person, when in fact we are feeding a personal hunger for validation. This is what they call codependency where there is a form of attachment to the other instead of two individuals choosing to share their lives together. This type of connection can last, but offers little satisfaction or personal development. Co-creative relationships, however are enjoyed by two evolved people who choose to share a life together. But to achieve this both people have to consciously work at creating a space of trust where all the bulls** can be faced and dealt with in a nurturing, loving way. I trust that this is the richness to aim for.
“One of the deepest feminine pleasures is when a man stands full, present, and unreactive in the midst of his woman’s emotional storms. When he stays present with her, and loves her through the layers of wildness and closure, then she feels his trustability, and she can relax.”
– David Deida
Quite frankly I have no idea what is “right” or not. I am simply sharing my thoughts and as usual there is an exchange between what I have experienced, what I feel to know and what I intellectually choose to know. In a way writing this piece is my way of facing my current challenge of surrendering and becoming comfortable with not knowing it all.
Due to the complexity of this issue, I figure that the safest bet is to trust my own instincts, despite experiencing uncertainty and doubt. But no matter what our choices may be, when we get hurt in a relationship, there is still a gift to be gained (and it may come much later). No one else can know why we choose one person over another, a mystery often even to ourselves. Why do you love whom you love, and how long will it last? Frankly it is easier to predict the weather. Either way there are no guarantees. It is the unknown nature of love that makes it an irresistible ride.
“Relationships are ‘assignments’ in which people are brought together for maximal and mutual growth opportunity. They can be trips to heaven or hell, depending on how we choose to interact with the other.”
– Marianne Williamson
One of my goals in my yoga practice is to be able to do a handstand (without the support of a wall). It is a pose which both empowers and frightens me and requires great deal of practice. But I haven’t spent much time practicing. My focus has mainly been on exploring a strong “wall” (i.e man) instead of on my alignment or my breath. I don’t really like to admit that. But you gotta love honesty hey. The awareness, the lessons and the ongoing learning that comes with it are simply priceless and for this I am grateful. The journey has so far been interesting (to say the least) and helped me realise the below mentioned richness pointers. As much as my wants, needs, emotions and opinions are forever revised and modified, I somehow doubt that I will ever settle for less than what my heart truly desires. Once awareness is gained, it’s hard to undo it no matter how afraid one might be of ending up alone.
For now I will keep practicing, in relationships and in staying true to myself by following my following ten insights;
- It is important for me to be with someone who enjoys being together and exploring nature.
- Existing in a healthy relationship means that there is only one version of me and not two (one with friends and family and one with partner). You would be surprised how often this happens in relationships.
- Love is a verb and I will put my intention on a partner who is ready to love and who is willing and determined to create a safe space of trust where love can flourish. In the words of my dear grandmother “if he doesn’t fight for you, he ain’t right for you.” If someone is withholding their love for you, it’s about them and not you. It takes great strength to love someone and frankly not everyone’s got the courage or the desire.
- No matter how much love, a sense of space is of great importance. There is “me time” and there is “team time”. Ideally I hope to find someone who can be my best friend and balance the two.
- There is a difference between needing someone to validate who I am and needing someone to encourage me to be who I already am. There is no better feeling than being with someone who encourages you to be the best version of yourself, to do what you are passionate about, what feeds your soul, what you are already pursuing and who challenges you (in a nurturing way) to stay focused.
- Listening is important and unless I can talk about anything and everything openly and freely, conversations eventually get edited to a version that you will both end up disengaging from.
- That physical intimacy, touch, making out on the couch or on the park bench and S.O.S (Sensuality, Orgasm & Sex) is of great importance and just like bread, needs to be made regularly. Frankly most women want to feel desired, appreciated and ravished.
- There is a process to relationships and to love. You meet someone; there is an initial spark, a friendship develops, first date, first kiss, meeting friends, meeting family, moving in together, getting married etc. The process is there for a reason, and I shouldn’t try to rush it. The more I try to hold on to someone (even the idea of them) or force my dreams on to them, the quicker it all slips through my fingers.
- Being afraid is part of letting go and falling in love with someone. But fear is a feeling of refusal and mistrust. In order to overcome it, both people have to be remain open through those fears and really see one another. This is why communication is key and no matter how much love or how long you have known each other, neither of you is a mind reader. As the saying goes “assumptions are the mother of F***ups” and “expectations lead to disappointments”.
- No one is perfect and we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. But that the small stuff are the real pay offs. So do go out of your way, but do it only from a space of love and effortlessness or it will lead to resentment.
“Sexually and in everyday life, when your lover can feel your energy and skillfully guide you to deeper and more passionate flow, your body relaxes. You can trust him, and surrender to the depth of his loving command. When he seems unable to feel you, then you naturally withdraw your trust, take control, and do your best to lead yourself.”
– From “Dear Lover,” a book by David Deida;