Saturday, April 16, 2022

Relationship as path

In close personal relationships, it is essential to emphasize our connectedness and the preciousness of secure attachment, leading with our vulnerability, receptivity, and sensitivities. In this, we prioritize the relationship and its value in our lives.

It is equally vital to be on the lookout for unhealthy fusion, honoring the reality that we are not only connected, but separate, with our own interiority, subjectivity, and ways of making sense of our experience.

Any secure attachment must include healthy differentiation, where at times the most skillful activity will be to honor our separateness from the other, differentiate from them and assert our views and needs, establish firm boundaries, and privilege our own autonomy and personal sense of integrity. This activity is active, dynamic, and alive.

To differentiate in this way will require each party to feel and integrate experiences of aloneness, uncertainty, confusion, and shame. Allowing one another the space and safety to metabolize this activation is the activity of love.

Once we take the risk to allow another to matter to us, it’s inevitable that we will disappoint them - and be disappointed by them in return. This will burn and ache and will bring alive our (and their) historic core vulnerabilities.

In the face of this, there can be an urgent impulse to do whatever possible to prevent the shattering of their heart and the achy (non-negotiable) confrontation with their own unlived life. But to allow the other to meet the reality of their own heart is an act of profound mercy and compassion. This will ask so much of us.

While from a transpersonal perspective, we can speak about unity and oneness, within the relative we are also differentiated and wildly unique, each with our own ways of organizing our experience. Each with our own fate and relationship with the divine, and with our own path to travel. To dissolve these differences into some homogenized spiritual middle does not honor the sacredness of form.

If we do not consciously honor the reality of our separateness, it will inevitably express itself in less than conscious ways, leaking out into the relational field as emotional and somatic symptomatology of all kinds. Paradoxically, it will also keep us disconnected with the other at a very core level, for if we have placed the burden upon them to tend to our unlived experience for us, it is simply not safe enough to come closer, for either of us - physically, emotionally, or at a deeper soul level.

In the fire of relationship, the lost orphans of psyche and soma call out from the underworld, from the depths of the soul and from within the pathways of somatic being. They long to be held and integrated and allowed their rightful place in the larger ecology of what we are. Like all work of depth, this art form evolves slowly, as it marinates and cooks in the alchemical vessel of the body.

May we be kind to our partners as we navigate this territory together, honoring the vehicle of intimacy as one of the most transformative, sacred, and challenging that we have in our modern world.

Freud said it was the dream that was the via regia, the royal road, to the unconscious; for Jung, it was the complex. But for many of us, it is relationship that is the royal road, a road that is precious while at the same time tenderizing.

Photo by Manfred Richter


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