Thursday, November 19, 2015

Into the crucible of intimacy

The invitation of the beloved, in each of his or her forms, is to step fully into the crucible of intimacy where we no longer limit the reorganizing nature of love, resisting the temptation that it conform to our endless list of requirements. And to open to the reality that the purpose of relationship may not be to provide a consistent stream of safe feelings, certainty, validation, and the meeting of our ‘needs.’

Within this container we can begin to see that the beloved has not come to confirm what we think love is – or to reflect back to us the way we have come to believe we must be seen. But rather to introduce us to the unprecedented terrain of the unknown, and to the vast, open warmth of our true nature. Here, there is no partial love, but only one that is full-spectrum, whole, and unconditional.

It can be shocking to realize that the movement of love is not organized around our hopes, fears, and preferences. In fact, love isn’t really ‘about’ us at all. While the beloved may never see us the way we want to be seen, neither will he or she confirm the trance of unworthiness. She will stay in the center and reflect back a raging sort of presence, and a fiery, unapologetic compassion.

Perhaps there will always be surges of grief, sadness, fear, anger, shame, and irritation that arise in the field of close friends and lovers. For the more we allow the other to matter to us, the more our historic, core vulnerabilities will come erupting on display, seeking the light of our awareness and holding. While we may resent the ‘other’ for reminding us what remains unresolved within, we can see that they are really not doing anything, except for being themselves. And in this we can trust them – not to produce consistent feelings of safety or to take care of our unlived lives for us – but to be themselves. What a disappointment. What a gift.

Let us remove the burden from our partners to metabolize our unresolved feelings, by taking such good care of ourselves and our emotional worlds that we release our partners from this sacred work, which is our own. Perhaps there is no greater act of love – for ourselves, for others, and for a world that has grown weary. For self-love and other-love co-arise and are one.

It is important to remember that our partners are neither the ‘good’ nor the ‘bad’ parent that we never had (or had too much of), but will regularly evoke these archetypes to unleash the activity of integration. No matter how disturbing, joyful, or irritating the material which is evoked, we can receive the sacred offering of the illumination of the forgotten pieces of our bodies, hearts, and minds.

Above all, please be kind to yourself and your partners if you truly decide to take up the way of intimacy with them, knowing that it will take everything you have to navigate, and much more. In many ways, this path offers absolutely nothing in return. Well, except for all that you have ever truly longed for.

Art credit: “Valentine Tree” by Alice Mason