When I realised I had found myself in a situation that was incredibly precious and with a person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I wanted to honour and nurture the relationship by attending to my own behaviour and my approach and attitude, so as not to replicate potentially self-sabotaging patterns from the past. In the past I always looked to a romantic partner to ‘fix’ things – and this can be a masculine instinct, to want to fix things for the one he loves – but somewhere along the way this became destructive – what if he can’t fix it? How can he fix it if you are deeply unhappy with yourself for some reason? When I began my current relationship, I had already healed a lot of wounds and let go of a lot of resentments from the past. I also had fallen completely and madly and utterly in love with myself on a profound level which I really believe to be an incredibly important component of a loving relationship.
Taking personal responsibility and cleaning up your own side of the street, not looking for someone else to clean it up for you – frees up so much more room for giving and for love – love of self and love of another. Like anything else in life where we want to yield satisfying results however, we must put the work in if we are to maintain a balanced and bountiful harvest in the arena of love and romance.
My own journey of self discovery, self love and a commitment to spiritual growth over the past several years opened me up to a great depth of information, writing and teachings about relationships, especially of a romantic nature, because I have a particular interest in this area due to many experiences of heartbreak and ache in the past.
A teacher and guide I respect enormously – Tony Robbins – says if both partners give freely to the other – doing things they wouldn’t normally do in order to please the other then how happy might the two people be?
He talks about the six basic human needs, ( http://www.tonyrobbins.com/ ):
Certainty/Comfort. We all want comfort. And much of this comfort comes from certainty. Of course there is no ABSOLUTE certainty, but we want certainty the car will start, the water will flow from the tap when we turn it on and the currency we use will hold its value.
Variety. At the same time we want certainty, we also crave variety. Paradoxically, there needs to be enough UNcertainty to provide spice and adventure in our lives.
Significance. Deep down, we all want to be important. We want our life to have meaning and significance.
Connection/Love. It would be hard to argue against the need for love. We want to feel part of a community. We want to be cared for and cared about.
Growth. There could be some people who say they don’t want to grow, but I think they’re simply fearful of doing so—or perhaps NOT doing so. To become better, to improve our skills, to stretch and excel may be more evident in some than others, but it’s there.
Contribution. The desire to contribute something of value—to help others, to make the world a better place than we found it is in all of us.
These basic needs spoke to me profoundly and while they resonate with many different human experiences and relationships, I hoped I may find myself in a romantic relationship where they were covered to a large extent…
I also read a lot of Gabrielle Bernstein (http://gabbyb.tv/), and her interpretation of A Course In Miracles idea of a ‘special relationship’. This is undoubtedly something I was drastically and detrimentally prone to in the past. It is the act of making a romantic partner incredibly special – but not in a good way. The special relationship is not based on true love. It is based on making someone an idol, placing upon someone else the responsibility of all your hopes and dreams and fears and happiness. In other words, acting from a belief that there is a special person out there who can make all the pain go away, someone who can ‘fix’ and ‘complete’ you. This is a common pitfall in modern romantic relationships. I did a lot of work to release this need, this requirement, this belief that a knight in shining armour was going to rock up to my front door and rescue me! There were many, many, times when I really wanted to be rescued! Finally I realized that I truly had to rescue myself and become my own hero before I could possibly enter a profound and healing relationship with anyone else. A Course In Miracles states:
“When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.” p. 142 http://acim.org/ ‘The Holy Encounter’.
Much of the reading and studying I embraced counseled strongly about not making another the beginning and end of your universe, rather, acknowledge that person, whether your lover or no, as an individual, as a friend and a separate human being, someone not responsible for your happiness and someone upon which you do not heap lots of unhealed expectations…
This has served me well – and I must constantly remind myself of the need to release, to let go of and allow my love to be himself, to be someone apart from me. It is not his job to make me happy – although he does – on a daily basis…
The further I got into this research the more I became convinced that we must not give anyone ‘special’ status. But…
I felt a but…I felt like, wait a minute…this person is special – remarkably beautifully and joyfully special…is this not allowed? Is it wrong to feel this blissful union, this utter connectedness with another human being? Does this mean I am doing something ‘wrong’ spiritually? The fact of discovering someone who I felt could be my ‘other half’ was jarring with the aforementioned teaching that had helped me and had spoken to me so profoundly.
I was clear within myself and my relationship that my beloved was indeed special – but not in an unhealthy, needy way. Not like I wanted him or needed him to complete me or fix me. Rather I hoped, and continue to hope, that we can, as two individuals, support and help each other, provide sustenance and nourishment, and I was happy to find that some of my spiritual teachers agreed. Marianne Williamson has written a beautiful and divine book called Enchanted Love, http://www.marianne.com/, this speaks to me on so many levels. She writes:
“Love will push every button, try every faith, challenge every strength, trigger every weakness, mock every value, and then leave you there to die. But once you begin to turn the corner, to leave love’s bush league and enter the pros, there is no worldly activity that can match the joy of flying like an eagle through the skies of a lover’s heart.”
Again this seems to speak to me of a fundamental truth – True love is not easy, it’s not something that ends with ‘happy ever after’ and a full stop, but if you work, if you keep remaining open and vulnerable and truthful and committed to your beloved, and he to you, you can both remain in the heights of love for a life time. You can grow and learn and hurt and soar and constantly retain a faith and belief in the essence of that which brought you together. I believe that initially there has to be a great deal of compatibility and chemistry and spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional connection – a beautiful and incredible connection and friendship – these are the backbone and the roots of the relationship – but this alone will not suffice, every day the relationship must be nurtured and attended to – just as every day your relationship with yourself deserves and requires the same attention.
Arielle Ford, another truly wonderful teacher wrote both The Soulmate Secret and more recently, Wabi Sabi Love. (http://arielleford.com/ ). The latter in particular is relevant to this article – it coaches and encourages the reader to approach their soul mate relationship as they would a beautiful piece of art that may be damaged in places. In other words – there is no perfection – rather there is the opportunity to love an imperfect person perfectly and constantly seek to learn and grow through sharing, nurturing and authenticity. Arielle explains the concept:
It was late afternoon on a cold November day more than twenty years ago. I was gazing out of my office window, enjoying the western sky as it turned shades of crimson with splashes of orange light around the setting sun. I picked up a magazine and came across an article with a striking black-and-white photograph of a large Asian urn sitting on a pedestal, with a long, crooked crack down the middle. The crack was highlighted by gallery light. In the world of Wabi Sabi, the urn in the photograph was even more beautiful and valued because of the crack, because of its imperfection. Singer and poet Leonard Cohen clearly expressed this basic Wabi Sabi principle in his haunting song ‘Anthem’: ‘Ring the bells that still can ring; forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.’
My previous article, ‘Love song’ (https://thedailysisterhood.wordpress.com/?s=love+song&submit=Search), was an ode to the very deep feelings and responses my beloved provokes in me. This is an attempt at a discourse and an exposition around how I am sailing this sea of true love. An acknowledgement that on the deepest and most profound level, we all feel the need and the deep yearning desire to find our other half and that is all good.
The following song sums it up well….The Origin of Love – based on Aristophanes’ wild description of how originally we were one big creature with two faces and four arms and four legs, separated and split in two by an angry Zeus – our constant quest now being to reunite with the other half of ourselves once more.
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Dr. Ellen Anne Burns is an actress, writer, mother, teacher, and student, not necessarily in that order. She was brought up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she has just completed her PhD in Applied Drama. She believes in a holistic spiritual practice, involving meditation, self love and discovery, learning and practicing forgiveness, gratitude and love every day. Ellen wishes to support and guide others on their own journey of self and love, especially with a view to romantic relationships. She is a mentor on Gabrielle Bernstein’s-HerFuture.com and is thrilled to be one of the founding members of The Daily Sisterhood Blog. If you wish to contact Ellen please message her here, and she will respond as soon as she can.