First: This week at the online magazine, Subversify, I wade into the Birther Bullshit. What? It had to be done! LOL Click here to read/ leave a comment.
Today’s post was inspired in part by a Facebook contact’s question…
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-=[ Requiem for a Serial fornicator ]=-
Until we lose ourselves there is no hope of finding of finding ourselves.
-- Arthur Miller
Today 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 the trauma that comes from repeatedly having our trust betrayed -- these become like little bubbles that rise to the top, that come to the surface. What happens in a relationship is that your beloved becomes a mirror of yourself.
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 horrific 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 fuck I was doing, so I wanted to stop, look, listen, and learn a new way.
At some deeper level I realized that there was something I was looking for, or better out, I had a sense of lack -- as if a piece of me were kissing. I felt that at the core of my being there was a broken window with a fierce wind blowing through -- a void, if you will. I experienced this void as a primal wound, a profound but delusional sense of loneliness.
I am not speaking of the regular, run-of-the-mill variety -- the kind of loneliness we all encounter at some point or another. There’s this kind of loneliness that no matter how firmly wrapped we are in our lover’s embrace still manages to slither in for a brief stay every once in while.
If I were to be honest, there’s not much to say about loneliness, for it’s not a broad subject. Shit, even a child, alone in her room, can travel the complete range of loneliness, from border to border, in less time than it will take you to read this.
But though it may not be broad, it is deep. Loneliness, dearest, is a river deeper than the ocean. But even here there’s no mystery. The same precocious child is liable to fall quickly to the very bottom without even trying. And since the depths of loneliness cannot sustain human life, the child will swim to the surface, perhaps none the worse for wear.
Some of us, however, insist on bringing breathing aids with us for longer stays: sex, more sex, imaginary friends, drugs and alcohol, soul-corroding relationships, mind-numbing entertainment, virtuality, inflexible routines, and pets (pets, in my opinion, are some of the best enablers of loneliness). With the help of these aids, a poor soul can survive the airless profundity of loneliness long enough to experience its worst horror -- its duration.
I wanted a way out, some measure of, if not happiness, at least some serenity. I went almost two and a half years without a relationship and was sexually abstinent during that time (yup). For clarity’s sake, I define sexual abstinence as refraining from having sex with another human being.
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? I’m sure many will immediately make the point that they love themselves, but there’s a need to look at this a little deeper. People think if they boost their self-esteem that this equals self love. However, let me ask you this: if what you perceive as your self is basically fucked up, isn’t boosting the self-esteem of something inherently flawed still fucked up? Or put more bluntly, tell me you don’t experience yourself as alone and separate at least some of the time.
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 trying love to myself unconditionally, warts and all, trying to uncover where I was causing my own pain and embarking on that long and hard road back to my original self. 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, as equals.
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 the process of removing the “game,” allowed me to experience women in ways I never dreamed of before and as a result, my relationships changed for the better.
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 was acting scripts, some of which were written before I was born; that I had major trust issues, that I often resisted true intimacy because I was afraid of allowing people close to me (and then wonder why I felt alone); I encountered a fear that fueled my anger -- all this with an attitude of acceptance and unconditional love. In addition, I was in the process of living a more spiritually centered life and I like to think that made me a better person.
Then I met the woman who would eventually become my wife…
Oh boy! My marriage was one of the most challenging experiences. 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? That I thought I had at least partially resolved? 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 ego centered goblins running rampant in my love life? Didn’t I work through that anger issue? And the trust thingee I thought I got rid of that little fucker. Like abandoned children, all my little inner monsters were wreaking havoc 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), 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 point is the practice, not the perfection, or playing to some spiritual stereotype. The point, I guess, is that uncovering the heart means exposing the very core of the self. This is a scary move into unknown territory, even though it is a part of our inner selves that we are uncovering. The heart symbolizes feeling and intuition. Though we may be fearful, the true danger is in the death, not the exploration, of the heart. But I have learned that the uncovered heart contains both vulnerability and strength. Its strength perhaps lies precisely in that ability to open itself to itself, with an exquisite grace that invites the hearts of others to do so too.