In relationships we have to trust and we have to communicate. It’s a constant leap of faith to say the things that we think they won’t want to hear and we won’t want to hear the answer to, to constantly face the fear of rejection and hurt.
But if you do take that leap of faith and trust, then it’s my experience that life constantly surprises you. It’s such a beautiful thing, but it’s scary, terrifying in fact. I’ve been with Martyn for 15 years and it’s STILL scary. I still have to take a breathe at first sometimes before I say something that is tender and edgy for me, something that I’m not sure of his response to.
This feeling of fear doesn’t disappear over time, you just get used to it. You learn to know it, you even learn to love it because it tells you where your edge of comfort is. It never fully feels safe to share those things that you don’t want to share, because it’s NOT safe. It never feels safe because when you reach an edge of yourself it’s ALWAYS scary. It’s not about the other person, it’s about you. It feels scary to you because you can’t guarantee the response and that’s terrifying, and that doesn’t stop.
If it does then you’re living out of truth and in a fantasy of your own making, because the truth is you can NEVER guarantee what’s going to happen, or what someone’s response is going to be.
So speak even though it’s scary, give them and yourself a chance to deepen and grow. Relationships aren’t easy. They never stop being a constant leap of faith. It’s very much a part of it, and that leap of faith is happening every single second if you’re lucky enough to be in a nurturing relationship. If you’re lucky you are relating new and fresh every moment, every second without reference to past or future and that is both wonderful and terrifying.
It’s opening your chest up, your heart, and trusting. Sometimes your heart gets hurt, but if it stays open life and love goes even deeper than the hurt and that is truly magical. Because with great risk comes great reward.
That risk is terrifying, love is terrifying, so it’s okay to honour that and feel that. But I encourage you to step forward even so, to open your heart wide. Only you can do that. Love is magical, love stretches you to capacity and then stretches you some more.
Love is all there is.
I was asked the other day how I deal with being around others, particularly when there’s a level of pretending or not speaking your truth that seems to be required of you.
I too know all too well this feeling of suffocation in the company of others. The subtle unsaid permissions of what you can say, which topics you can touch on and how deep that can go. The unsaid permissions that someone can’t give for fear of threatening their own sense of Self, views and place in the world that they hold so tightly so as to keep the facade of security and knowingness intact.
I think this is why the idea of Sanghas can be so enticing, a place to commune with others who were of like mind and place in their journey of unfoldment, of seeing. A place when you can find common ground and openness, common experience and views. Alas it’s not as easy as it sounds to find the ‘right’ sangha!
You are lucky if you can find this in a partner or in a close friend or two – this is what I have with Martyn and this is what I am eternally grateful for. Alone together and full permission and delight of me to be me and him to be him. The freedom to be as we are, the freedom to plumb the depths and go anywhere – no ‘sacred cows’ that are off-limits.
You asked how I deal with the difficulty of pretending with others. Firstly I take plenty of time to go into my aloneness, isolation and unknowingness and revel in the freedom to be. This place of ‘only don’t know’ is such a beautiful place to be. Beautiful and vulnerable. Delicate, embracing and loving but powerful and full of strength. It’s in this space that we can truly see ourselves and breath in the fullness of existence. Taking this time of solitude is incredibly important, especially for me being the hermit and introvert that I am.
But these days when I am with others I find myself laying it all out to bare, trusting in this process and letting the chips fall where they may. Standing in my truth, being open and honest and trusting. Trusting that even if I get push-back or hurt that I can handle it, that they can handle it too and the freedom to be me, the freedom for them to be them is much more important than any particular outcomes. It has meant the loosing and changing of many relationships, but it has also meant the discovery of those relationships that can withstand this vulnerable nakedness of openness and truth that I find myself standing in.
Then of course there are those relationships where masking and pretending is absolutely necessary. Practically speaking I try to minimise the amount of time spent in these types of interactions, that certainly helps. Making sure that I do have plenty of alone time and nourishing relationships where masking and pretending isn’t needed so that there is capacity for those relationships where it’s not possible. Also in those interactions to find as much openness and compassion as is available in any given moment. To not shame or blame the need to protect, defend or set unsaid boundaries, but honoring and accepting those boundaries where we find them. Understand that they are often there for a reason, even if it’s a reason I (or they) can’t see or understand.
From a broader view of this topic generally for me it was the attachments to outcomes and desires in terms of interactions and relationships that had to go. The attachment to the desire of people liking me, people seeing me, the desire to looking a certain way, to be loved or even liked. Even the attachment to the desire to connect deeply or in a certain way, to be understood and acknowledged.
The power in the lack of attachment has been enormous for me, scary but completely freeing. I have nothing to lose, I have no rights to certain outcomes of how I think things should go. I just am who I am in any moment, it’s raw and risky feeling but it’s real and honest. And so in this I’m eternally grateful for what I do have, for all that comes across my path, forget about ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
There is only so much that one can repress and suffocate themselves, the cracks begin to show. The holes start forming and things start to escape in more violent and unpredictable ways.
I encourage you to breath into the fullness of your experience, let the chips fall where they may and find those moments, those people, those spaces, those pages even, where you can freely be YOU.
Again and again life has recently been showing up with this question of what is compassion? What is love? Compassion can look like a lot of different things, but for the moment I wanted to talk about compassion for those around you that act in ways that you don’t understand, don’t like and don’t find their behaviour to be acceptable at all – maybe they’re behaving like a complete asshole.
The most compassionate thing you can do is not write them off. Bring them into your heart. Their asshole-ness is covering up a non-acceptance of Self in themselves. When you accept your whole Self, when you accept all that you are and all that you experience, all the ‘world’, then you aren’t rejecting anything. You aren’t creating a sense of separation – all is you. So pull into your heart that someone, see that
“There’s nothing more beautiful, intimate and vulnerable than another person saying “I see you, all of you.” Be see-through, be transparent, embrace that vulnerability, dare to look in the mirror that they hold up to you and share yourself with open abandon; with great risk comes greater rewards – freedom.” – Imogen
The image of relationships and enlightenment don’t normally go hand in hand. The stereotyped image of the ‘enlightened monk’, shunning the material householder life is something that’s been around in spiritual traditions for a long time. So out of this there comes the common misconception that you can’t be in a relationship and be successful on the ‘spiritual path’. But being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that awakening can’t be there too. The relationship doesn’t have to go, only the attachment to the relationship has to go. Don’t get me wrong, the result of that dropped attachment may actually be that the relationship ends. Ultimately that’s what was meant to happen, and all attachments do eventually fall away – what’s left is what’s left, maybe the relationship will be there, maybe not.
I was talking to a dear friend the other day about how to be present for others. Everyone’s had the experience of sitting with someone but not really being present to what they are saying. You are physically there but there’s a sort of ‘half listening’ that’s going on. There’s also the commentary or stream of thoughts going on in your mind.
What’s at the heart of it is to deal with your own stuff. Through the acceptance of what is arising in you there is space created that allows you to be completely present to them. It’s like when your cup is full, there is no space; but if your cup is empty there is space for them. Your emptiness comes from your ability to abide in the present moment and allow what is arising in you to arise. To not be met with any resistance, or to indulging and encouraging whatever is arising.