At the beginning he said I kissed like a camel. Towards the end he said he would burn me and my family if we ever broke up.
Four months after coming out of an unhealthy seven year relationship, I was feeling somewhat sorry for myself. In the wee small hours, spurred on by cigarettes and Stoli, I had the urge to purge. On two sides of narrow-lined A4 paper, as I reflected upon the demise of my first ever relationship, my attention wandered to what I was looking for in a man.
The Look of Love
I wanted a nice, gentle, but firm, man who liked similar things (music, films, food) and had a shared attitude. Someone solvent and reliable, who called when he said he would and liked to chat on the phone. Someone happy and comfortable in himself. Someone I could spoil, and who would spoil me – not with grand gestures, but with tokens that showed my thoughts and feelings had been heard, considered. We would share intimate looks and touches, laugh about life’s absurdities together. I wanted a man of contradictions in just the right proportions, illustrated at the right times.
Two and a half years later (after several delightful, yet, disastrous dalliances) such a man found me. He turned my head. Danced his way into my heart.
From the beginning I felt at home with him in a way I hadn’t with others. Within a matter of months, I said to my friend that “I would marry him tomorrow if he asked me”, which was a surprise because I never wanted to be a wife. My family tree has had multiple branches pruned due to divorce. You’d be hard-pressed to find even one couple, in over three generations, who built a long-lasting relationship with the mother / father of their offspring.
Let The Games Begin
His marble blue gaze held me, melted me, but unknowingly, I kept a little of myself back.
Something inside wasn’t open to yielding. At times, I tormented myself with a cloud of insecure thinking. I believed the cruel words that teased through my mind. Sometimes, my eyes turned green. Sharp sounds would spill from my should-have-been-bitten lips. The softness that swelled me often failed to find voice, never reaching his ears as sweet somethings. Another thought would take its place… the moment would pass. An opportunity for warm closeness, missed.
As a consequence, our relationship has not always been paved with ease.
Over the years, there have been times when we have danced out of step. We have been distant, disconnected, distracted, causing our daughter to say, “you’re supposed to be in love” and “just tell me if you are getting divorced; I need time to prepare…”
We have resorted to bickering, complaining and cold-shouldering. Been masters at silent score-keeping – the art of secretly totting up the amount of dishes washed, toys tidied, clothes folded, bins emptied, meals cooked and hours slept in a bid to find out who has done more than their fair share of keeping house and raising a family. These score-sheets never balance. They only serve to further distance ourselves from our mate, and the discouragement we feel is corrosive.
I was at a loss to understand why we played these games in our relationship.
Wedded bliss is a reality for us at times. Light-footed and laughing, we fluidly dance in rhythm. We’re in tune. Harmony reigns in our household. At other times, the music is discordant. Our partner has changed. We dance on the back foot, rigid and awkward, with an undercurrent of tension. The gap between us widens. We (deliberately) step on each other’s toes. In a beat, we have gone from elation to deflation.
I thought there was something wrong with me, that I just wasn’t cut out for marriage, but what I had fundamentally misunderstood was where my experience of my husband was coming from. I thought I was feeling the truth of him, but I was always just feeling my thinking about him.
It is not only beauty that is in the eye of the beholder. All of our experience comes to us via the principle of Thought, and is brought to life by the principle of Consciousness, even if we are blind to it in the moment. Our human operating system is a closed circuit, one way street. We were off-beat because that is what I innocently invited to show up at the dance.
S.O.S (Stillness, Oneness, Softness)
In a moment of clarity a few weeks back, I saw something new about relationships.
I had always believed that the heart-thumping, belly-jumping, breath-taking flush of love came from some hot thang we were lusting after, but it suddenly struck me that this could never be true.
“If I am only ever feeling my thinking, then that super surge of love must come from me…”
I stood still on the street as I absorbed the enormity of this. We don’t get turned on. The spark belongs to us, even when it looks as if someone else is flicking the switch. We feel the current of love that we are made of. Not even death can part us from this connection to life.
I saw that the amount of warmth, closeness and love I felt for my husband directly corresponded to the tiers of thinking on my mind and how seriously I was taking them. More tiers, less love. I saw that my loving feelings spontaneously arose when I quieted down; it is in their nature to do so. As I settled into the ever present stillness, I felt myself open up, expand. I felt at one with my mate. Softness is a natural consequence of this and it sweetens our connection.
I realised that there was no game to play.
Our problems occurred because we lost heart. When we expect love to look a certain way, it is easy to feel saddened when it doesn’t. We miss the mate we have made up in our minds, but this is simply ego-borne conditional love, not timeless, truthful love. There is no freedom to be found here.
Real love just is.
So What Happens Now The Game Is Up?
I am not sure, yet, what implications this fresh glimpse has for our relationship, though it certainly feels like much more solid ground to be stepping out on.
Getting boxed-in, at times, danced into a tight corner, is inevitable in this rhythm of life. There will always be unexpected twists and turns. It is helpful, when I lose the beat and step out of time (or on toes), to realise that it is not a reflection of my partner, the music or the dancefloor, rather more a case of me getting swept up in my momentary thinking.
There is nothing to fear in surrendering, in losing ourselves together in the magic of the dance, because, ultimately, when the lights come on and the music stops, love still remains.
There is power in knowing that we already are the love that we seek. It means we can playfully relax into life.
We are all held in embrace by the mysterious energy behind life, but isn’t it divine to have a hot-blooded love to lean into sometimes?
“only with a peaceful mind will you see the beauty around you”
Sydney Banks, Second Chance (p.100)
This article was first published on the Born Happy website, a site dedicated to pointing people towards their inbuilt, natural born happiness.