I still don't like sitting and my internet connect is maddeningly inconsistent, so it's report time!
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Until we lose ourselves there is no hope of finding of finding ourselves.
-- Arthur Miller
Acceptance and relationships. Whew! Big one here. I want to explore what happens to the way we relate if we awaken even a little bit. This is the kicker, the fire with which we test ourselves. When one person meets another and the interplay of energy takes place, it pushes to the surface all the little places we pushed back from the light. Whether it's a history of violence, emotional bulimia, habitual criticism, or repeatedly having our trust betrayed -- these become like little messages that rise to the top, that come to the surface. What happens in a relationship is that your beloved becomes a mirror of yourself.
That's why it's not enough that one "fall" in love. Falling in love is based on neurochemicals combined with a limited sense of self. It's based on the grasping aspect of the mind. However, a relationship can become, if we bring more awareness, humor, and consciousness to it, a wonderful way to go deeper into living. But I get ahead of myself.
For most of my adult life my relationships with women were a series of dysfunctional interactions that either left me bruised and bleeding, or caused others much pain. My relationship history resembled a series of car crashes. My way of relating to women was screwed totally and so when I decided to make changes in my life, the first thing I did was call a moratorium on romantic relationships. I knew I didn't know what the fuckI was doing, so I wanted to stop, look, listen, and learn a new way.
I went almost two and a half years without a relationship and maintained celibacy during that time (yup).
One of the first things I learned during this time was that I couldn't love another until I could love myself. Not an earth-shattering insight, huh? And yes, I'm sure a lot of you will immediately say you love yourself, but you need to look at this a little deeper. People think if they boost their self-esteem that this equals love for one self. However, let me ask you this: if what you perceive as yourself is basically fucked up, isn't boosting the self-esteem of something inherently flawed -- still fucked up? Or, as a Baptist minister friend of mine used to say down south: "Dip someone into the baptismal waters and all you'll come up with is a wet sinner!" LOL! I used to laugh at that one.
In other words, truly learning to love yourself unconditionally is to accept yourself as you are, fearlessly exploring where you are causing your own suffering, learning how to move away from those patterns, and creating newer ways of relating. I'm sure we have plenty of arrogant people walking around "loving" themselves, but that's not the kind of love I'm talking about here, people.
So there I was, I learned to bring unconditional love to myself, warts and all, identified where I was causing my own pain and went on a long and hard road to recreate myself. I took a clear look at and became willing to undo my character defects. Along the way, I learned to relate to women as human beings, rather than as objects of my desire and made life-long friends in the process. In taking away the relationship ("I need you") and sex ("I want to fuck you") agenda, allowed me the space to relate to women as friends, as people.
And it was a great discovery for me. I mean women are totally fascinating creatures with thoughts, perspectives, ideas, compassion, etc. Okay, I'm exaggerating a little here, I knew all this before, but in not being focused solely on the "game," I was ale to meet women in a respectful way and my way of relating to them slowly changed.
Very important period of my own development, those years.
Well, time passed, I grew, I became more comfortable in my own skin to borrow a phrase from a friend, and I thought I had made great progress. And you know what? I DID! I learned for example, that I had major trust issues, that I often resisted true intimacy because I was afraid of people getting to know the real me; I encountered a fear that fueled my anger â€“ all this with an attitude of acceptance and unconditional love. In addition, I went on a program of self-discovery and improvement that made me a better person, I think.
Then I met the woman who would eventually become my wifeâ€¦
Oh boy! My marriage was one of the most challenging experiences I ever undertook. Don't get me wrong, I loved and was loved in return; I grew in ways I never imagined as a result of my marriage and I still reap the rewards of that union. But remember all those things I mentioned working on? They all came back with a vengeance!
At first I couldn't understand it, where were all these little monsters coming from? Why were all my "mini me" goblins running rampant in my love life? Didn't I resolve that anger "mini me"? And the trust "mini me"? I thought I got rid of that little fucker?!?! Like abandoned children, all my little monsters were wreaking with the tidy picture I was attempting to construct.
As I said before, relationships act as a mirror to our deepest selves and those little gremlins running around in the dark corners of our psyches will come out to play as soon as we get close to someone. It is almost impossible for us to get to know ourselves alone. There are always blind spots, unexplored corners of our past and present lurking somewhere. In this way, relationships become a way for us to put to the test all that we have learned. A relationship, especially a romantic relationship, is the crucible in which we dissolve the impurities of our hearts. It is where the dross is turned into the golden thread with which we sew the tears in our hearts.
Genuine love lies in making relationship like a practice -- a sacred discipline -- in which two people agree to make (and change) agreements, explore honesty (true honesty, not that bullshit that gets thrown around 360 posing as honesty), and questioning assumptions.
For me, awakening, or living in a more conscious manner, is a process. Sometimes I'm in a groove and things flow, at other times, I slip and really make an asshole of myself in the process. However, the thing is not that I'm some fuckin bullshit blissful guy floating two inches above the ground, that's totally unrealistic -- a spiritual stereotype. The point, I guess, is what's my (and your) general direction?